Wednesday, August 28, 2013

One Month & A Brownie Mug

Folks, we have one month.

I have no idea what to say!

At the risk of sounding ridiculously typical -- It feels very...surreal.

Wanna know how I celebrated at midnight?

Two words: Mug brownie.

Oh yes.

This is a terrible {but delicious} photo {it was midnight, after all}:

A sweet little innocent brownie to fix my need for chocolate and celebration in the wee hours of this A.M.

i.e., I couldn't sit still or sleep and therefore felt a strong need to do something productive that involved chocolate.

Plus, my mind is zooming in sixteen and a half different directions at most moments of everyday of every week, thus making cooking real food a little difficult as of lately. So I stick to what's easy: crock pots and microwaves.

I'll be honest, usually the mug brownies I make are larger than this. In fact, this particular one from last night/this morning is actually half the size of the normal one I always sometimes make -- but I was desperate for chocolate and STRONGLY unwilling to feel guilty about it.

So viola! Here you have it -- the full recipe for a one-minute mug brownie. If you want just a small taste to get your dessert fix, cut it in half and consider it healthy!

But that's just my unqualified but totally rational two cents ;)

One Minute Mug Brownie
Serves 1-2

What you'll need:
4 tbsp self-rising flour
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp veggie oil
Splash of water
Splash of vanilla
Your favorite mug :)

What you'll do:
Mix dry ingredients in mug until completely and evenly combined. Add wet ingredients and mix until throughly combined and the texture is like that of cake batter. Add a little more water if it's too dry, but the mixture should NOT be soupy. Mix until creamy.

Pop in the microwave for 1 minute, then add sprinkles while warm. Top with cool whip if you have it on hand.

For a smaller brownie, cut the ingredients in half (except for vanilla, obvi. Because vanilla is AWESOME), then pat yourself on the back for making an excellent choice.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

That Time I Heard My Boss's Kid's First Words

My Bosslady has two precious babies and one on the way.

Awhile back, Bosslady brought her kids to work for part of the day. The girl, her oldest, is bright and energetic and has just entered the preschool age.

The youngest, at the time, was still a butterball of a baby boy with chubby legs and a contagious smile. I'd never heard him say a word except the occasional "Glaaahhhhhhh" and "ooooooohhhhh."


A few of us around the office were prepping to take some stock photos, complete with random props found around the office and cheap party decorations I'd found in the trunk of my car (because I carry things like that around on a daily basis - don't I keep getting more awesome?). One of said props was a cheap plastic hat that read, "Happy New Year!" -- you'll see the point of that in a minute.

Right as we were wrapping up, Bosslady walks in with the two children; The Girl, at her side, and Chubby Baby on her hip.

"I need to take The Girl to the bathroom," Bosslady said. "Will you hold Chubby Baby for a few minutes?"

Before I knew it, Chubby Baby was on my hip, looking up at me with the bluest eyes I've ever seen.

Ohh Chubby Baby. You shouldn't make me melt so!

Chubby Baby looked around, amazed at all the shiny objects in the room, just out of his reach.

Until he spied The Hat.

The cheap, plastic, "Happy New Year!" hat.

He reached for it.

"Oh the hat!" I said, way too eager to please Chubby Baby. "He wants the hat!"

So I handed it to him. And he giggled.

Aaaaahhhh Chubby Giggles!

It was a beautiful, peaceful moment.

Until he held it up, trying to show it to me -- and started making noises.

"Huh! Hah! Haaahh!"

Oh snap! What's going on? Asthma? Gas? Did he just realize his mommy left the room?

Part of me panicked.

"Hey look at the hat!"I said, trying to entertain. Smile, Chubby Baby, smile!

He lifted the hat again.

"Hah! Haaaaa--tuh!"


No way. No way did he just do that. I was hearing things. Surely I was. Nobody is supposed to hear a baby's first words except his mommy and daddy. NOBODY.


Yep. It happened. Chubby Baby said his first word.

"No!" I said, desperate to somehow undo this situation, then make it happen again once Bosslady was back in the room. "No hat!"

"Haaattt!!! HAT!" Chubby Baby grew louder in volume.

"Shhh!!!!" I shushed! "Shhhh!!! Stop it, Chubby Baby!"

I took the hat and hid it!

But it didn't work! Babies are smart like that.

He saw it, and pointed!

"Hat! Hat! Hat!"

"No! No! No!" Bosslady was going to brokenhearted.

I'd never be able to hold Chubby Baby again!

Finally, my co-worker (who had caught on to the situation) presented Chubby Baby with a shiny object in front of his face, which caused a sweet little "coo" followed by silence.


How long does it take for a kid to go to the bathroom?! I was growing anxious for Bosslady's return.

Finally - FINALLY!!!! - Bosslady returned with The Girl by her side and told us she was taking the children home.

BUT, before they left...

"Hey Bosslady," I said, casually and in all coolness. "I think Chubby Baby really likes this HAT here."

Chubby Baby sat up straighter, still on my hip. He wasn't going anywhere until he spoke for his mom.

"Hey Chubby Baby, do you like this HAT?!" I'm soooo subtle.

Chubby Baby reached for it. Here it comes!

"Haa--Hat-tuh! Haa-at! HAT! HAT!!"

I nodded at my co-worker.

Nailed it. 

"Bosslady! Did you hear that?!"

"Hear what?"

OH NO! She missed it again. I heard nothing. Nothing at all. {Plugging ears} LA LA LA LA!!!

"Oh, did he say 'hat'?" Bosslady said, way too casually.

"Maybe?" I said, completely calm, obvi. "I mean, I didn't really hear, I wasn't paying attention."


Oh, Chubby Baby.

"Oh yeah, haha," Bosslady laughed. "He's been doing that a lot lately...He's been picking up on a lot these days."

"Wait..." I paused. "How long has he been talking?"

"Awhile now," Bosslady said. "Why?"

"Oh just wondering."

Apparently kids start talking when they're babies.

You can imagine my surprise when I found out he could walk.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I MAY have previously declared mentioned my undying love for my beloved boy band
*N SYNC. (That's justiN, chriS, joeY, lansteN, and jC, for those of you who need to brush up on your know-ledge)

And I MAY have freaked out in a professional way of course when Mississippi boy Lance Bass visited home this Christmas, stopping by my place of employment to visit.

And I MAY OR MAY NOT have demanded begged our photographer to hand over the camera so I could be in the same room with him and shake his hand and meet him and make all of my 13-year-old-awkward-junior-high-girl dreams come true.

All of this I will neither deny nor admit.

But TODAY.....

Oh, today......

It's happening. It's FINALLY HAPPENING!!!!! An *N SYNC reunion, folks!

*N SYNC fans, unite!!!!


Lance's birthday is May 4.
He grew up in Clinton, MS and was a part of Attache' show choir (I've seen them - they rock).
Justin and JC met on the New Mickey Mouse Club (the New MMC for all of us cool kids)
Joey and Chris met through jobs/gigs at DisneyWorld.
Lance came into the picture after the first bass guy dropped out and Justin asked his vocal coach to help find a replacement.
Their first "big break" in the States as a group was a televised concert on the Disney Channel.
I still have that concert on a VHS at my parents' house.
Random facts I've retained from my childhood.


This morning, I arrive at work, only to find THIS waiting in my inbox, from a fellow *N Sync-Fan-Slash-Co-Worker:

Oh my.

Ohhhhhhhhh my.


I'm not a fan of the VMAs. I'm not a fan of MTV.

But for this?

I just might make an exception.

Who am I kidding?

I'm SOOOOO going to be there. In all of my 13-year-old squealing glory.

Only this time with better hair and without the braces.

Like, really, because, I mean, they like, are just, like, so great, ya know?


There is absolutely NO WAY to convey my excitement and happiness right now!!!!!

But this comes dangerously close:

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Only Banana Pudding Recipe You'll EVER Need

Last night I did something scandalous.

Something so deliciously scandalous.

I may not be proud, but I'm definitely not sorry!

Feast your eyes on this amazing-ness.

As previously stated, this is the only recipe for Banana Pudding that you'll ever need. EVER. Courtesy of my mom =) (love!)

Ohhhhh how I LOVED those days when I would wake up in the morning and see a giant bunch of perfectly yellow bananas sitting in the kitchen -- right next to a bag of Nilla Wafers. Oh, I knew what was coming. Deliciousness, that's what.

I'm not sure if there's a dessert I like more, although cake and apple pie come dangerously close.

I made this yesterday after we were invited to have dinner with a family from our church - there was basically nothing left.

Let me tell you, if you are ever in a bind and need to bring a "quick" dessert -- this is it.

This is sooooo it. It pretty much takes about 20 minutes, tops. If you're slow.

Once you whip up the pudding mixture, it's all layering from there. You don't even have to let it chill if you don't have time, because the pudding thickens as you go. I enjoy a cold banana pudding though, so I like to let mine sit for a few hours, even overnight, if I have the time.

It comes together, quickly, easily, and deliciously. Although it does require some sampling as you go.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Just be careful not to eat that tiny bit of sweetened condensed milk that somehow doesn't make it out of the can....

I'll admit it. I didn't even try.

I'm not proud, but I'm not sorry :p

I LOVE IT, I tell ya! LOVE. IT.

If you've ever made banana pudding, you know that it's a layered dessert. The trick is to evenly arrange the toppings so that you get incredible amounts of them in every heavenly bite.

Arrange it like this....

Then this....

Until all of your ingredients are gone with enough left for you to sample. I'm crazy in love with this dessert. Is that weird?

You're going to make someone very happy with this dish. Even if it's yourself. Because it's just that good.

P.S. Happy Friday :)


The Only Banana Pudding Recipe You'll Ever Need
Serves 8-10

4 very yellow bananas
2 cups of milk
1 package of vanilla instant pudding mix - MUST be vanilla
4 oz cool whip (half of a package)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (fat free will work!)
1 package of Nilla Wafers

Slice bananas thinly, then set aside. Combine milk, pudding mix, cool whip, and condensed milk in a large bowl and blend until even using an electric mixer. Once it's nice and combined, layer everything in another bowl in this order:

Pudding mixture
Banana slices
Nilla Wafers

Repeat until all ingredients are gone, then chill until ready to eat. Tastes great if chilled for at least 1-2 hours, even overnight.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chopped Taco Salad

WOWZA! It's Thursday folks! Al...most...there....


44 days. That's all I can say.


Deep breaths, deep breaths.

I'm at the SO-EXCITED-YET-SO-ANXIOUS phase. So excited about everything, yet scared to death it won't come together on time.

But it's okay! I hear this is normal?



I'll take it!

You know what calms me down? Food. Good food. Good food and good FOR you food.

I've been on a crazy Mexican food kick - which I might have mentioned in a previous post. A couple of weeks ago I was at work, pining away for tacos and quesadillas and burritos when BOOM. I get a text from a dear friend inviting me to eat Mexican a few days later. Joy. Pure joy.

I like to think things like that are God's way of just saying HEY -- but maybe that's just me.

Ever since then, that's all I've wanted to eat. Hence the two rounds of THESE TACOS and the abundance of chips, salsa and tortilla chips in my kitchen.

Monday night, however, I needed vegetables. I needed them BAD. And I didn't want them cooked, either. Cold, raw veggies that would cool us off inside and out during the humidity that hit The City this week.

I couldn't eat another plain salad though. I couldn't. I love salad, but after the gym that night -- I needed more.


As in Mexican.

Do you see where I'm going?

Boom. Yes - taco salad - with alllll the fixings.

I promise there are vegetables under there. LOTS of vegetables...Somewhere.

Proof! Here's a not-so-great picture -- without all of the toppings...if that's your thing (still delish):

Romaine lettuce, fresh corn, lean turkey meat, carrots, black beans, cheese, salsa, sour cream and lime juice = party in my tummy.

It was a good night that night.

As were the next three days/nights that I continued to make this.

Because of all of the veggies in this dish, it was still actually pretty healthy despite the sour cream and chips on top. But all in moderation, folks :)

I didn't measure anything in this dish, mainly because it's a salad and I always eyeball it (I've never once measured lettuce or tomato --- why start now?) - so the recipe below is simply a guesstimate. Chop and add to your heart's desire -- whatever you love on your salad!

I like to think of this as summer comfort food. Those days where you've just come from the gym and really DON'T care to work in an oven or over a stove? This is great.

Plus, BECAUSE it's so healthy --- ALL THE MORE REASON FOR DESSERT!!!

Baby cupcakes YEAH!!!!!

Anyway...make this. Salsa + sour cream = mouth watering good. I don't even know anymore.

Plus it's a really good way to prep for the scandal that shall be posted tomorrow...MWAH HA HA!

Note: This recipe is similar to THIS POST featuring Chicken Fiesta Salad. If you're not crazy about lean turkey or beef, I'd suggest the chicken! :)

Chopped Taco Salad
Serves 1-2

4 leaves Romaine lettuce
1/2 Roma tomato, sliced
1/2 pack of lean ground turkey meat (So sorry! I didn't note the ounces!)
1 can of low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 ears of fresh corn (your preference - canned corn would work too, rinsed and drained)
1 tsp sour cream
1 lime, cut in half
Sprinkle of shredded carrots
Sprinkle of shredded fiesta cheese
Salsa, to taste
Chips, to taste
Steak sauce
Salt, Pepper, and Red pepper to taste
Chipolte Ranch dressing, to taste (I only used about a tsp - you don't need a lot of this)
Small pat of butter

Wash and dry your lettuce, then chop until it's in small pieces. Place in a bowl along with tomato slices, black beans and carrots (and corn, if using canned).

If using fresh corn, let it cook in skillet with a small pat of butter until done. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Once semi-cooled, add to salad bowl.

In another skillet, brown your lean turkey meat and season with a tad of salt, pepper and red pepper. Add a few dashes of steak sauce and crumble meat into small bits as it finishes cooking. Add half a squeeze of lime juice and let it cool.

Add your meat to the salad mixture, then top with shredded cheese, salsa, and sour cream, then add one more squeeze of lime juice to top it off. Crumble chips on top, give it a nice stir, then enjoy.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday Love

It's FRIDAY folks - and I couldn't be happier. Is anyone else having a hard time focusing today?

In celebration of all things Friday, here are a few things that made me smile this week. Hopefully they'll make you smile too!

one. Jenna's recipe for Biscoff Cookies. Must. Make. These. Now.

two. A homemade biscuit with my Grandma's homemade strawberry jam. I'm thankful my place of employment is close enough to my apartment so that I can go home for lunch. Saves the DOLLAs for sure! Even better? I can run home and make a biscuit for lunch whenever the craving strikes. And my Grandma has the best homemade jellies and jams. I don't care what you've tasted - hers is the best!

three. this guy.

four. Putting the new muffin tray to good use at 11 at night by making the Royal BABY Cupcakes at last - yes, they're mini-sized! And making them with The Fiance', who has some mad cupcake skills that apparently I just found out about.

five. SEVEN weeks :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer Readin'!

Happy Tuesday peoples!

It's a mighty beautiful day here in The City - a hot, humid, breeze-less day, but a beautiful one nonetheless. Sunshine is a wonderful thing :)

And speaking of sunshine, let's talk about the beach. Namely, let's talk about BOOKS about the beach.

I love the beach. I'd be there RIGHT NOW if I could.

Fortunately, I have a job that helps me have food and a roof over my head, so I can't complain about not being at the beach.

But I digress.

This book:

Read it. It pretty much rocks.

I haven't read many of Dorothea Frank's books (yet), but I'm really digging her style right now.

Folly Beach starts out on a very heavy note - I want SO BAD to tell you what it is! But the good news is, the bad stuff lasts for only a chapter or two (maybe three, they're pretty short), and it's a great, very easy read - even through the rough patches.

Frank intertwines a play with another story that's only semi-related -- or so it seems. One chapter will be a scene of the play, the next will be a continuation of the main character, Cate's, story. At first it can be confusing, but the more you read, the more you want to know about these two seemingly different stories. Then all of a sudden - BAM - it hits you and it makes complete sense.

Frank completely pulls this style off, I don't know if I've read many books that can give you two stories in one and make them each make so much sense.

Her writing style is, to say the least, right up my alley. Throughout the rough (really rough) hardships Cate must endure throughout the story, Frank allows the character to keep her sense of humor but still seem so human and so affected at the same time. She's smart, and she's strong, and despite all that she is dealing with she handles it with grace and allows it to make her stronger. She also comes to realize the importance of family, as well as the fact that you really can come "home" again.

If you're anything like me, as you read this you'll actually be able to feel the breeze coming off of the South Carolina coast and smell the salty air as she's watching the waves. Frank's descriptions are impeccable and ridiculously realistic.

Folly Beach is, essentially, Cate's journey. When we first meet her, she's a very well-off woman of society who quickly must backtrack to her humble roots when tragedy strikes. The characters in the book are real, as is the city in which the book is set. 

It's a great book for summer - whether you're on the beach listening to the waves or sitting on your porch listening to the distant traffic. Regardless, Frank's writing has the ability to drown out any other distracting sounds that might be surrounding you, and put you in a place of relaxation such as that of Folly Beach.

And if you've read it (or WHEN you read it), you'll know what I mean when I say I REALLY REALLY WANT THAT HOUSE!!!! But that's all I'll say for now ;)

I'm really looking forward to reading more of Frank's books -- but I've got a few more in my Amazon cart that I need to cash in on!

What books are you reading these days?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Oh my, my, my....

My, oh my, people - we are getting close!

54 days if I'm not mistaken -- it's getting real. It's also feeling pretty surreal now that things are finally thankfully coming together! :D

I made a very short trip home on Thursday night so my mom and I could go to my last dress fitting before the wedding. Thankfully - after much fear, tears, and anxiety -  IT FIT and we brought that baby home! Afterward we celebrated at La Madeline (one of my favorites EVER!), talked about wedding music (which somehow made both of us cry), and picked up the INVITATIONS!!!!!! EEEK! :D

Saturday night was spent addressing invitations and sending out massive amounts of texts to gather addresses I forgot I DIDN'T already have.

This is what my dining room table looks like at the moment. Oops. Haha.

The cake topper came in -- and I can't wait to post a picture after the wedding --- and we have our engagement shots in just under two weeks -- which means I have a lot of running (literally) to do between now and then!

And on top of that - my awesome sister just got engaged last week! So the awesomeness is starting all over again - and it's going to be great. We're going dress shopping for HER wedding dress on Saturday, and I'm crazy excited.

But enough wedding talk! Let's talk about food - THAT'S a lot of fun.

Even more fun? Actually EATING the food I'm about to show you. Get ready. It basically rocks.


Because THAT seems wildly appropriate for tacos.

Summer = Tacos to me. Chicken tacos, beef tacos - I love it. I've been on a major Mexican food kick lately, and these fit the bill. So much that I made them twice in one week.

Yep, that happened. Only I didn't get pictures of the first round. They disappeared rather quickly.

That kind of happens when boys start eating with you.


Originally I came across this recipe via on Pinterest, but I wanted to tweak it to make it my own. The meaty filling has a great flavor due to a mixture of lean beef, refried beans, tomato sauce, and steak sauce. We made 12 tacos and used only a pound of beef and half a can of beans, which came in handy when we decided to make them again!

Toppings are completely up to you - I would definitely recommend sour cream and guacamole!!! For some reason there's a shortage of "good" avocados in my area, so alas, we had to skimp on the guac. Surprisingly, though, the flavor was so great that we really didn't miss it!!!!

We topped ours with sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, lettuce and a nice blend of cheeses, then served it alongside fresh corn. Delish.

These really didn't take a long time at all to make - from start to finish it MIGHT have taken 15 minutes. I'd highly recommend for a busy weeknight supper.

Hope you enjoy these!

Pinterest Tacos
Serves 2-4

1 lb very lean beef (I used 93/7)
1/2 can of refried beans
1 -8oz can of tomato sauce
1 tbsp of steak sauce (more or less, to taste)
1 package of taco seasoning
1-2 squeezes of lime juice
Dash of cayenne pepper
Dash of Tony's
Dash of Mrs. Dash's chipotle seasoning
Shredded cheese of your choice, to taste
12 hard taco shells (flat bottom works great)
Toppings of your choice: sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, corn, hot sauce, etc.

Preheat oven to 400. Brown your beef until completely cooked, then add taco seasoning and steak sauce. Let the flavors soak in, then add beans and tomato sauce. Stir until completely combined, then add lime juice and other seasonings and stir.

Spoon beef into taco shells, then sprinkle cheese on top to taste. Place in a baking pan (I used a rectangle cake pan) and bake oven for about 5-8 minutes or until cheese is completely melted. Remove from oven and let it cool slightly before adding toppings.