Friday, February 27, 2015

Now That We've Survived the Gas Leak

Happy Friday, one and all!

Well. Now that we've successfully completed a week of almost-snow-days and all-day rainy slush days, let's add "workplace gas leak" to the list of thing we've survived, shall we?

My, oh my. It has been a wild ride this week, I do declare.

Yesterday afternoon at work, we were all humming along, minding our own business and adjusting to a semi-normal day -- one that DIDN'T involve snow predictions, bridge closures, and detours through THE SHADIEST ROADS YOU'LL EVER SEE OH MY WORD -- when suddenly I started smelling something...odd.

It was faint, in all honesty, but...odd.

I had a half-cup of coffee sitting next to me, which had been there since around 8 a.m., so I thought maybe the creamer had gone sour? Nope, not it. Maybe it was my computer overheating? Nope.

EGAD what if it's me? Thankfully, nope, it wasn't.

A few people have some smaller space heaters under their desk -- so that was a possibility.

But the smell was faint, so it was hard to pinpoint exactly where it was coming from.

Just then, one of my co-workers sitting next me jumped out of her office and said...."Is there a gas leak in here??? It smells like GAS. Like really...GAS."

Immediately about six heads popped up throughout our row of cubes.


My boss flew out of her office to check with some of our managers, but none were to be found. She ran back just as we saw a nice crowd of people gathering by the front door, fidgeting trying to get out.

"GRAB YOUR STUFF," she said to us all. "We have to go NOW."

The tone of her voice said that she meant business and something scary was about to go down.

By the time we'd reached the parking lot there were probably at least 60 people outside, with more coming behind us. Confusion to the MAX.

Long story short (ish), apparently it was the building NEXT to us that had some issues, but a gas leak was not one of them and all was safe and sound.

A large group of us stayed outside for a little longer just in case, but it proved to be okay.

We still smelled like gas for a few more hours, though.

BUT. All's well that ends well, I guess. Right?


Because it's FRIDAY. And a sunny weekend is (finally) ahead!

May your skies be bright, your coffee be delicious, and your air be NOT poisoned with gas!

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time...

I lived in South Mississippi.

And we wore shorts and flipflops in the winter.

I miss those days.

For those of you who have it much, much worse right now...and my heart goes out to you.

Less than one month until Spring!!!!


Monday, February 23, 2015

From Slushtown, USA

Greetings from Slushtown, party people!

We've had a loooooooot of rain and freezing temps today, so naturally the weather is quite...yucky. Half of our city shut down early tonight due to icy roads, so we've been taking it easy and enjoying an evening on the couch with red beans and rice.

Rainy day relaxing is a wonderful thing indeed :)

We kicked off this past weekend with homemade pizza. I've always been afraid to made any kind of bread from scratch, especially since it typically involves yeast (which, by the way, the thought of which has always scared me) - but since Hubs had to work late and I had some time to kill, I set to work in the kitchen with HowSweetEats's recipe in hand.

I'm so glad I did. The recipe was super practical - we had everything on hand already! And the finished product was CRAZY GOOD. Like --- I'm pretty sure we MIIIIIIGHT be making our own crust from here on out.


You WILL be impressed.


Saturday was filled with work fun! Our organization's annual charity food competition was happening, and awhile back my boss asked me to step in for graphic design purposes. It took A LOT of learning and a team of about 25 people, but we were all mighty proud of the way our booth and theme turned out.

Plus, who doesn't love a Ninja Turtle-themed food truck that's shoving mini-pizzas in your face?

It was an indoor event, and there were about 15 other teams competing.

...which meant there were OVER 15 dishes to sample.


One of which was RIBS. And another had SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE.

It was FOR SURE a delicious event.

My belly was MUY happy that night :)

Although it was my first-ever attempt at set design, I actually had a lot of fun learning about it all and was relieved that the team seemed pleased with the results.

I plan to take a nice little break, though, before EVER doing that again, HA!

Sunday basically consisted of church, BBQ, church again, and Cracker Barrel breakfast for dinner with some new friends. It's amazing what a difference it makes that we're starting to make friends here.

Massive amounts of coffee and laughter were had that night.

We were really a delight to the staff, I'm sure.

We came home and I finished reading BooMama's newest book - which, by the way is even better than her first. Highly recommend this one, peeps...

...and tonight I cracked open this beauty, which I've heard RAVES about. I'm pretty pumped about this one.

A rainy night at its best.

I'll be the first to admit that this is NOT my most exciting post, so KUDOS if you are still reading this (!!!!!) -- there's just something about blogging on a rainy night that's just sooooo....nice :)

Have a happy one, friends :)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Thoughts

We made it! It's FRIDAY and the work week is done!

Sort of. I have to work tomorrow but it involves FOOD so WHO CARES?!

I'll be sure to report back when fun has been had. :)

Meanwhile --- a list for Friday!


ONE. Remember last week when I said I was doing a midnight experiment for the Mister's work party and then proceeded to talk about Gilmore Girls in a rather loopy fashion?

Well, people -- we had success.

Thanks to Pinterest, a last-minute Kroger run, and an inordinate amount of CHEESE, we pretty much made the easiest and most successful dish in the history of our short marriage.

Let me present to you...THE Pizza Bread.

If you're in a bind and need to bring some kind of appetizer/side dish/wow factor/etc. to a party or whatnot, please believe me when I tell you that THIS IS IT. Thankfully I grabbed a small bite before Hubs took it to work, because there was NONE left when he returned. I found the recipe on Pinterest, but you can find the original pinner HERE.

TWO. I'm trying to convince everyone around me that me getting a dog is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY right now despite the fact that we are in an apartment and still house hunting.

A friend of mine accidentally adopted a dog when it wondered into her yard and needed a home, but my friend cannot keep it at the moment. OF COURSE my puppy fever has reached an all-time high, thus convincing me that I NEED THIS PUPPY and now it's all I can think about.

Not to mention the fact that I cry and feel the need to rescue any animal I see that doesn't immediately have a human at its side.

Except for snakes, of course. Snakes are evil.
And owls. But we won't get into that.

THREE. I feel about 30 years older than I really am. Not in terms of maturity - gracious, no (HA) -- but physically. I bought WRINKLE CREAM a few weeks ago (???). I'm tired and ready to go to bed at 8pm, which means usually I reallllly want to eat supper at 5:30 p.m. Early bird special, anyone?

I also keep hearing myself say things like "I just don't understand kids today" and "Wellllll when we were their age we didn't have {insert nostalgia here}!!!"


My life is a party, I tell you this.

FOUR. Someone called me "Linda" today in an email. I have no idea where this came from.

FIVE. I made these Red Velvet Pancakes from Southern Living magazine recently and WHOA. As someone who's not a huge fan of pancakes, I kind of inhaled these. What a great recipe.

Also, I'm a lousy blogger and deleted the one picture I took of them. So this puppy picture will HAVE to do.

Yes. A puppy is A MUST right now.

Monday, February 16, 2015

You Be Johnny & I'll Be June

I can't stop listening to Miranda Lambert's new album, "Platinum." I've basically had the whole thing on "Repeat" since Thursday.


It's keeping me upbeat throughout this crazy weather and lack of sunshine.

You what else is good though?

A pasta dish that doesn't make you feel like you weigh 6,000 pounds WHILE it's busy being pretty delicious.

I made this weeks and weeks AND WEEKS ago, but just didn't get around to posting it. I found it in my phone today and thought HEY WHY NOT because wintery, rainy days just call for pasta sometimes AMIRIGHT?

I've only recently discovered egg noodles. WHY I've never cooked them, I'm not sure, but it probably has something to do with the fact that "egg" and "noodles" just don't sound appetizing AT ALL to me.

BUT --- one (very cold) night I just bit the bullet and tried them anyway because they are CHEAP and I didn't feel like eating frozen vegetables.

YES they are enriched and YES they are probably not the best for you --- but I figure a little enrichment can't be too terrible every now and then, right? Everything in moderation, I'd like to believe.

Have you ever had beef stroganoff? It's never really appealed to me, but I think I had it once in college and it wasn't too bad. This version is made with turkey though, as well as a few other seasonings, and it is SO MUCH BETTER. Just be sure to season it because you do NOT want this dish to be bland. And those mushrooms? They add SO MUCH. Please add mushrooms and you won't regret it :)

The SAUCE is the treat in this dish. It's easy and fast to throw together and really the need for those aforementioned enriched noodles is just a minimum. And THAT means we can feel a LEETLE better about eating said noodles and just enjoy the dish all around.

This all came together in about 30 minutes or less. Which COMPLETELY made up for the hour-long wait in traffic trip to the grocery store it took to make it happen.

Definitely something to consider for a rainy, chilly Monday. Happy Day, friends!

Turkey Stroganoff

((serves 2))

What you'll need:
1/2 lb of lean, ground turkey (I use 93/7)
1 small can of cream of mushroom soup
6-8 small mushrooms, rinsed and chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
dash of basil and oregano (or Italian seasoning)
salt and pepper, to taste
Tony's (or other cajun seasoning), to taste
1-1.5 cups of cooked egg noodles

What you'll do:
Saute' mushrooms in olive oil with garlic, onion, and Italian seasoning. Once mushrooms are fully cooked, remove and add turkey. Turn heat to medium, season with salt and pepper, and cook until completely done, about 10-15 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and stir in sour cream and cream of mushroom soup. If sauce is too thick, add a little water or chicken broth until it reaches your preferred consistency (I like mine slightly soupy). Season with Tony's or other seasoning to taste, then serve hot over warm egg noodles.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lauren Graham will ALWAYS be Lorelai Gilmore

It's midnight, and I'm baking again.

But it's okay because GILMORE GIRLS IS ON TV TONIGHT!

Not Netflix (even though I hear it's wonderful) - because we are NOT that awesome (read: modern). It's SOMEHOW made its way to ABC Family!

I should stay up this late more often. Maybe I shouldn't, because I'm actually an old lady that can't function past 9 p.m. Plus there's that whole "real world job" thing that really comes in handy when you want to buy a house and puppy. Preferably not in that order but hey, TOOOO-mato, tahhhh-mato.

Where you lead!
I will follow!
That you telllll meee toooo!!!!

My rendition of this theme song and its accompanying interpretive dance is CRAZY GOOD, my people. Just trust me on this.

So back to the oven.

Did your parents ever pick on you while growing up about coming home and announcing that you suddenly have a science project due the next day?

I got that ALL THE TIME.

And tonight was payback for those "sudden" announcements as a child, I suppose.

While perusing The Pioneer Woman's cookbook for her AHHHH-mazing Corn Chowder recipe, Hubs reminded me that his work is having some kind of "food thing" tomorrow and that he was supposed to bring a dish.

I looked in the fridge, and we literally had fish and frozen vegetables.

We're trying to eat healthy again. And this doesn't work well for work functions, mind you.

And the RED VELVET OREOS that Hubs brought home yesterday? Well. They're MORE THAN HALFWAY gone and therefore unsuitable for said word function as well.


So I started cooking and Hubs made a mad dash to the store to buy a few things for a little experiment we're concocting.

WHY I always gravitate toward a brand-spanking-new recipe for big events, I'll never know. Stay tuned for the results and maybe we'll get a post out of it.

NEWSFLASH. I've just realized that Paris was the Gilmore Girls' version of Sheldon Cooper. I can't be the only one thinking this. Moving on.

And OH MY WHAT the Mom from Happy Days is Granny Lorelai!

Oh Gilmore Girls. Where have you been the last few years? Lauren Graham is my spirit animal.

And that is all. G'NIGHT EVERYBODY!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sunday Shrimp & Grits

Is anybody else completely obsessed with "Uptown Funk"?

I can't help it. I'm hooked. It's basically been the thing that's getting me through this manic Monday!

But it's all good. Because you know what ELSE I'm currently hooked on?

Shrimp and grits.

Thaaaaaaat's right.

I'm cooking again!

Actually, I cook A LOT. I've just been really boring as of late.

So whether it's the 60+ -degree weather and sunshine we had this weekend, or just that I got tired of eating chicken, SOMETHING reallllly motivated me to get a little creative in the kitchen.

Okay let's face it - it was Pinterest.

I LOVE shrimp and grits. It's one of my favorite dishes to order when we go to legit seafood restaurants down on the Coast. Nobody does shrimp and grits like the South, people.

But I've never really attempted to make it myself. I've made a version or two with a few other fun ingredients added, but guess maybe I was just afraid it wouldn't be the same? Plus, when I want shrimp and grits, I REALLY WANT SHRIMP AND GRITS -- so to get all pumped about making it and eating it -- and then have it NOT turn out? Well, that's just heartbreaking.

But yesterday was different. Oh, so different. I'd found the recipe via Pinterest on Saturday night and it was all I could think about come Sunday morning. My tastebuds couldn't take it anymore, folks.

So, after church we threw some thinks in a skillet, cooked some grits, and hoped to goodness it would taste all right. And you know what?

It was a pretty fantastic recipe.

...although I'll spare you the horror of my photography skills, because it's really hard to make shrimp and grits look pretty with an iPhone camera and bad lighting ;)

You can find the original recipe here, courtesy of Southern Living Magazine (speak to my heart!), but I put my own spin on it below. It actually calls for very practical ingredients - I had basically everything on hand already except the shrimp.

Careful, though -- this dish is super filling! It's nice and cheesy and starchy and seafood-y all at once. And it's wonderful :)

Happy Monday, friends!

Sunday Shrimp & Grits

((adapted from Southern Living Magazine))

Serves 4

What you'll need:

2 slices of turkey bacon
1 lb of medium-size shrimp (I used frozen, fully cooked, de-veined, tail-on shrimp)
1/4 cup flour (I used self-rising, and it worked fine)
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (plus a little more, just in case)
garlic powder

1 cup Quick Grits
1 can low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup shredded, mixed blend cheese (I used the "Pizza Blend")
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2-3 slices Provolone cheese.
dash of salt
dash of pepper
dash of Tony's

What you'll do:

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat about a half tablespoon of oil to medium heat. Cook the bacon until crisp, then set the strips aside (drain on a paper towel if needed, but turkey bacon typically isn't very greasy). Do not clean the skillet.

Saute the mushrooms in the bacon drippings (if any), adding about a teaspoon more oil if needed (you can also add just a small pat of butter here). Sprinkle with pepper and garlic powder to taste. Cook until tender.

If needed, clean/defrost/de-vein/de-tail shrimp, then season with salt, pepper, and Tony's to taste. Dredge in flour, then add to skillet to cook with mushrooms.

When shrimp begin to brown, add chicken broth and season to taste. Let this mixture cook for about 5 minutes, then turn heat to low. This should be very gravy-ish, but not too liquid-y. If it gets too dry, add a little more broth until it reaches the right consistency.

Serve piping hot on top of grits.

For the grits:
Combine broth, milk, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Mix in the grits a little at a time, stirring with a whisk. Once everything is combined, turn heat to low and let this cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thick.

When grits are fully cooked, add in the cheese and season slightly with Tony's as you stir.

Once everything is evenly combined, spoon grits into your bowl and top with mushroom and shrimp mixture. Crumble bacon on top and enjoy!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Link Lovin'

The weekend is ALMOST HERE! Just a little while longer to push through and then the weekend is ours!


To get us through the next little bit, here are a few things I've read/seen this week that I wanted to share. Hope you enjoy these as much as I did!


This Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese from How Sweet It Is. I want NEED this in my belly ASAP. Still drooling over that one.

JIMMY FALLON. Usually enough said, right? USUALLY. But this week? DOUBLE WHAMMY. That Saved By the Bell Reunion PLUS the Fresh Prince Remix? Had me smiling all week.

If only we could all age as gracefully as these folks. WOW.

Major kudos to the writers of this. It was basically perfection.

PLUS -- did anybody notice the Screech look-a-like in the background? Or was that just me?

Andie Mitchell's Tedx talk from last year. I love everything about her presentation. Her poise, her story, her optimism, her realness. Seriously cannot wait to read her book.

Jen Hatmaker's post "On Becoming A Writer." It's been a lifelong dream of mine to write a book (or series), so naturally I soaked in basically every word of this.

The Big Boo Cast podcast. Technically, this was posted last week, but I'm still giggling about it this week. I love these podcasts between Melanie and Sophie - they are hilarious and I had to try my hardest to control my obnoxious laughter at work while listening to this one.

Today's Entertainment post on The Pioneer Woman. Romantic, rom-com, or not, these are GREAT movies. And there's a whole section dedicated to The Princess Bride. Love it!

Aaaaaaas youuuuu wissssshhh....

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Coffee Buzz

I'm experiencing THE BEST kind of coffee buzz possible right now at this very moment. I'm productive, energetic, happy, excited, and focused --- for about 30 seconds at a time.

Oddly enough? I've gotten A LOT done.

I can't help it. My attention span is so crazy short right now that the 45ish seconds I've spent on this blog post (so far) is the longest I've focused on anything in the last hour or so. But 30 seconds here and 30 seconds there keep me focused and FOCUSED HARD on the task at hand, so it helps me get things done quickly and, somehow, efficiently.

I'm PRETTY SURE this is due to the fact that I drank about 3/4 of a cup this morning, as opposed to the usual 1/2 a cup my system can tolerate.

I have so much to share! So here is an abbreviated list of a few awesome things from the week.

More to come later!

This weekend Hubs and I threw a few things in our bags and hit the road to visit my parents for a WHOLE, ENTIRE weekend. If you're a middle child like me you realize that this meant I had their complete attention for TWO FULL DAYS, and you also realize that this means it was basically Heaven.

Not to mention there was homemade apple pie involved. And that just takes everything else up a notch. Is there anything better than coming home to your childhood home and, upon getting hugs (and did I mention COMPLETE attention?) from your parents, the sweet aroma of your favorite pie is calling your name?

I didn't think so.

Not to mention there were sweet puppy kisses from this ball of cuteness.

My hometown has the best food EVER. So serious. Fresh seafood delivered daily, an awesome mix of homestyle-Cajun cooking, and a fantastic (and cheap) Mexican restaurant that you have to visit at some point in your life. But best of all is our bakery. Paul's Pastry has been around for years and years. What started out as a little blue wooden building on the side of the highway has grown into a giant of a bakery that smells like the way I imagine Heaven will smell.

Basically every time we make a fly-by trip through my hometown, we HAVE to make a stop at Paul's. Everything in that place is as beautiful as it is delicious. Just look at those magnolia cupcakes. Icing for DAYS. And those are THE BEST sugar cookies on this earth. There's nothing like it at all.

I have a beautiful, sweet, hilarious cousin who doubles as one of my best friends. We were born a mere six months apart, so we've had some wild and crazy, exaggerated-storytelling-inducing adventures together through the years. So it was nothing unusual when we spontaneously decided to hit up the Moon Pie parade this past weekend to kick off our Mardi Gras season.

Let me make it clear, though, that was a clean, family-friendly parade in a nearby community that favors Moon Pies over beads. It was only 15 minutes long, made up of some local bands and kids in costumes, but we had THE BEST time. Not to mention that within that 15-minute time frame, we racked up on nearly 80 pies.

My mom and Hubs came along, too! The laughter was unstoppable that night and my heart was so filled and happy!


Speaking of Mardi Gras --- King Cake Season has ARRIVED!
Paul's has THE BEST (have I mentioned this?) and we stocked up appropriately.

I took a cookie decorating class this week! For the first time, I was able to decorate (somewhat successfully) with royal icing and it was loads of fun! Royal icing is HARD, people. And I mean "hard" as in "difficult," because it's actually quite soupy. Regardless, stay tuned for more cookies because I am ALL ABOUT IT now.

If we're being honest here, though...there was one rather unfortunate-looking cookie that didn't quite make it into this picture and somehow ended up in my belly instead.