Tuesday, January 31, 2012


On my walk today I saw a sight that seemed a little odd for January...These pretty fellas!
There's a field next to my road, and there were little groups of these pretty daffodils all over the place.  This 70° weather we've been having is throwing everything off.  It's supposed to be snowing, not blooming!  Oh well, I think the flowers are prettier than snow anyways. :)
Right now I'm in the process of meal planning.  The first day of the month I make up a menu of meals for the entire month.  I write down all the needed ingredients, and then go to the grocery store and fill my buggy!  Things that can be frozen, I freeze until I need.  Fresh items that cannot be frozen, I use in the first week of meals.  (That normally means that the first week of meals are the best.)  This method has been working for me for about 4 months now, and has saved us money.  It keeps me from going by the store (which I hate doing) several times a week "just to grab what I need" which then results in me buying a bunch of other impulse buys.  Plus, I don't have to go home each night and try to figure out something to cook.  I just consult my list, and have the items all available.  A lot of the meals are crockpot meals too, which I can start while home for lunch.  Anybody else do meal planning?   

Monday, January 30, 2012

What's In Your Purse Episode 2

Today's the day for our first guest post of "What's In Your Purse" and I'm so excited!  Our first brave lady to bear the contents of her purse is my beautiful sister, Allie.
Allie and my precious niece, Emma.

Allie is my best friend, and one of the most organized people I know.  I miss her and that awesome little girl more than they will ever know.  Well here goes!

"Hello “The Helms Family Blog” readers! My name is Allison Lundy and I am the lucky sister of Mrs. Julie Anna Helms. I have been an avid reader since Julie Anna started her blog. She is a witty writer and has so much to share. Julie Anna mentioned in a previous post that she moved three hours away from “home” when she got married. The awesome thing about her blog is that it has somehow made her seem not so far away from us anymore. It is fun to see what her everyday life includes. 
Anyway, enough with the mushy stuff… I was honored when she asked me to be a guest blogger for the “what’s in your purse” post.  I am a fairly new mom with a 19 month old little girl. I, like most women, love purses, bags, satchels, etc. Before Emma (that is my precious 19 month old) was born I was sure that my bag always matched my outfit and held everything I could possibly need for any emergency. Since the birth of Emma, carrying a 20 pound bag on one hip and a 28 pound toddler on the other just doesn’t work (forget the matching my outfit part!). I very quickly realized that something was going to have to down size and it wouldn’t be my growing toddler. That is why Julie Anna’s request for me to be a guest blogger came at the perfect time. Earlier that day I had purchased a new “mommy bag”. This bag is totally not fashionable, a small book bag type purse that is black. When purchasing the bag, I felt a small tinge of “what has happened to my fashion?” and then I was quickly jolted back to my beautiful reality when Emma pulled on my finger and said “ub you mama” (translation “love you mama”) Emma is worth all sacrifice of this so called “fashion” that I thought would be lost when throwing this “book bag” over my shoulder.  I have realized that, while the need to be prepared is still present, I don’t need to be over prepared. One bottle of lotion is sufficient; I do not need one in every scent. This little “book bag” has been a life saver. All of my downsized items fit perfectly and a spare pair of panties for my potty training daughter fits as well. So yada yada yada…being a mommy with a mommy bag is well worth the sacrifice of “fashion”. 
Behold, the mommy bag:
   Below are my downsized bag contents. This is my old bag with its contents. The personal items fit inside the small bag…

1. one bottle of lotion for me and one bottle for Emma 
2. hand sanitizer
3. hair clips 
4. lip gloss and chapstick 
5. floss 
6. pill fob with aspirin
7. nail file 
8. deodorant wipes. 
These are the things that I designated as necessary:
9. Wallet in the middle holds all my cards and envelopes for cash. We use the “Dave Ramsey” budget system and love it!!!! This keeps me accountable for what I spend. If there is no money in the envelope then there is none to spend. 
10. Mints and gum: Evidently I like to have fresh breath with two cans of altoids and two packs of gum. 
11. Emma loves to draw, so a pen and paper are definitely necessary. 
12. The little brown and pink thing is a bag that folds up into this little pouch. This comes in so handy when shopping at Aldi. 
13. And lastly, my iphone…don’t know what I would do without it. 
All of these items fit perfectly into my new bag. The best part about this book bag it that its regular price was $62. I paid $9.99!

Thanks Allie for being my first blog guest!  Have a question for Allie or want to volunteer to show us your purse?  Comment below!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Feeling a little bit under the weather today.  My day so far has consisted of sleeping till a ridiculously late hour...showering, only to put another pair of pajamas on (the unbelievably comfortable pair my sister-in-law got me for Christmas)...and sitting on the couch with these guys:
Sounds like a ballin' time, yeah?  Thankfully Timothy went and got me some egg drop soup from the Chinese restaurant, cause that's what good husbands do.  It's not as good as my mom's homemade chicken noodle, but it has the little crunchy things with it, so I guess that makes it pretty good.  :)  My fortune cookie said "the star of riches is shining upon you."  Well right now I would much rather have the "star of a snotless nose" shining on me.  Hope your Sunday has been better than mine! 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Well hello, beautiful!

Remember in this post when I was talking about my overachieving amaryllis stem?  Well it finally bloomed yesterday.  See how pretty?
It has 3 more blooms on this stem that are about to bust open as well.  I'll try to get a picture of all of them when they do. 
Had a great day today 'cause I got to see my parents!  My mom called me last night and asked if Timothy and I wanted to meet her and dad in Albany for dinner because they had decided to camp in Cordele.  We definitely agreed and met them around 4:30 today for a little shopping and dinner.  It was a wonderful surprise for the weekend.  Miss my family so much, so it was good to see my parents even if for just a couple of hours. 
Hope everyone had a great Saturday!

Friday, January 27, 2012

What I wore today...

I mentioned in this post that me and my family are definitely bargain shoppers.  I realized today that I had forgotten to post a picture of a bargain outfit, so I figured today was as good a day as any!  So this is what I wore today!  (Sorry it's not a very good picture, I had 10 seconds to run into the frame)

 Here's where I got the items, and how much they cost:
Dress from Target: $12.60
Leggings from Walmart: $5.00? (got these last year)
Belt from thrift store: $1.25
Sweater vest from Gap: Gift from my awesome sister-in-law
Boots from Payless: $27
The thing I like about these items is that I can mix and match them with other pieces to make a lot of different outfits.  I'm especially proud of the boots, and wear them all the time. 
While I was attempting to take a decent picture of my outfit, Bing Clawsby was chilling out and totally judging me about my poses.  See:

I guess he is still kinda cute though. :)  Sorry this post is so short, but it's Friday ya'll!!!  Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Today I went 5 rounds with this guy:
To you non administrative assistant/secretary/office managers, this evil thing is a binder, used to make these pretty little presentation booklets.  Sure, it looks harmless, but believe me...it can cause a lot of headaches/broken nails/frustration.  Today at work I was binding books of data sheets for an install we are about to begin.  I had about 5 books of 100 pages each that I was trying to hole punch, and then attach inside of that black binding comb looking thing.  Sounds easy enough right? Wrong.  It all started to go awry when the hole punch side of it decided to randomly eat pages/put holes in the wrong place.  Well, I say it was random.  It actually wasn't.  This horrid mechanism took specific offense to a data sheet for a hearing impaired system, and decided to eat that specific sheet in 4 of the 5 packets.  I'm seriously considering reporting it the the ADA.
So after reprinting about 20 mangled pages and getting about 500 pages successfully punched, it was time to thread them onto the spiral comb thingy.  The contraption I was using has little fingers that pull the comb apart so you can thread the pages onto each of the 20 spikes.  Welllll......the spirals that fit this model would barely hold the 100 pages for each book and I would try to put like 20 pages on at a time only to find that the 2nd page had missed one of the spikes.  For about the last 15 pages of each book, I ended up just taking the dang thing off the separating fingers and pulling it apart with my own human fingers to thread the pages on.  While attempting to take one of the combs off, I couldn't get the fingers to let go and ended up breaking a fingernail trying to unhook it.  It took me about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.  Kind of embarrassing...but apparently not enough to prevent me from blogging about it to the interwebs.
The moral of this story is: never underestimate the complexity of a piece of plastic...and next time, use a stapler.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


This past Christmas season I decided to buy an Amaryllis to keep in my dining room window to add a little cheer.  It bloomed beautifully right on time for Christmas.  This is what it looked like on Christmas morning. (Please note it is still dark outside.  We woke up at the butt crack of dawn to be able to drive up to see everyone for Christmas)

After a couple of weeks, the blooms fell off, and I thought that was it.  Well this week I noticed that a couple more leaves were growing out of the bulb.  Before I knew it, this little overachieving sprout made an appearance.

You can see on either side the short remnants of the first blooms.  It's ridiculous!  And now there are about 5 more leaves waiting to join it.  I guess it's enjoying this absurdly hot "winter" weather we've been having.  (We've had the air conditioning on at work this week, it's been so hot)  Once these all start blooming, I'll take another picture.  Hope ya'll had a great Tuesday!  Only 3 more days till the weekend!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bag Lady

Growing up, my family always referred to me as the "bag lady."  I always, always had a bad full of things with me.  When I got old enough to start carrying a pocket book, all bets were off.  I carry my life in my purse...almost literally.  Throughout the years I have assembled a host of items that will get me out of a minor scrape, or possibly save my life.  Haha! 
After seeing another blog do this, I decided to start a weekly guest post called "What's in your pocketbook?"  I've already asked a couple of brave women if they would let us peek into their lives via their possibly cluttered or possibly organized pocketbook.  I figured if I was going to ask other girls to expose the contents of their sacred bags, I should go first.  Please note: I have not edited the contents.  (Ok with exception to the half eaten bag of pistachios, and a lot of Wal-Mart receipts.) 
Soooo, wanna see what I carry in my everday pocket book?

A list of items, starting from the top left:
1.  Half eaten bag of gummi worms - I figured this was a good place to start.  I love me some gummi worms.  Don't worry, they have a clip that has them closed up.
2.  Three different packs of gum
3.  An unopened can of Altoids I got for Christmas.
4.  A really really really squished breakfast bar - Totally forgot this was in there

Now going to the bottom left:
5.  Coupon holder - a little book with a snap that keeps my coupons from flying all around my purse.
6.  Kindle - before my awesome parents got me this, I had anywhere from 1 to 3 books in my purse at one time.  This way, I can carry as many books as I want, without all the weight.  And allows me to nurture my obsession with pristine book covers.  It's awesome! 
7.  iPod - gotta keep my tunes with me.  But notice I don't have headphones to listen to said tunes?
8.  Buttons - a person at my old job gave me these buttons, and over 6 months later they are still in my purse, threatening to stab me each time I stick my hand in my purse.  Somehow, they have never succeeded.
9.  Pink wallet - somehow one of the smallest things in my purse is the most important?
10.  Key - This key actually goes to a file cabinet.  My car keys should be in this group, but they're hanging by my door.
12.  Planner and pens - self explanatory.  Should be noted, I have never used this planner.   

Back to the top row.  Little note: all of these little items go inside a smaller bag that goes inside of the bigger bag.  They're like Chinese nesting dolls...Closer picture below:

12.  Comb - You know, for combing?13.  Medicine - from Ibuprofen, to Neosporin, to Orajel (had a toothache once and now I always carry this with me.  That cute little change purse with the flower on it is full of medicine too.  :)
14.  Lipstick, lip gloss, lip balm - about 3 of each?  Kinda overkill, and no, I don't wear them all at the same time.
15.  Hair brush - You know, for brushing? 
16.  Lint roller - Got this from a coworker 2 Christmases ago.  Awesome gift; no longer linty!!
17.  Lotion - I normally hate lotion, but this Avon kind my mom got me isn't bad.
18.  Spare contacts - I'm blind without them, so I always have spares.
19.  Floss - On top of the contact box.  For when I grab corn on the cob to go?
20.  Pocket knife - To saw my arm of if need be.  A la Aron Ralston (please note, I could not remember this guy's name so I typed into Google "guy who sawed..." and "his arm off" popped up.  You get me Google, you get me.)
21.  Fingernail clippers - Of all of the items in my bag, I get asked for this item the most.  Particularly by my brother in law.  Guess what he got for Christmas... 
22.  Fingernail files - 2 of them
23.  A string of safety pins - Can barely see them, but there are about 6 of them.  I have saved many a woman in distress with these friends.
24.  Sewing kits - To stitch up a wound...or, you know, a button.

Going from the right corner in:
25.  Clear fingernail polish - For a little extra somethin on my claws or to stop a run in the hose.
26.  Deodorant - to smell fresh as a daisy!
27.  Hair rubber bands, clips, and bobby pins - to tame my mane
28.  Round mirror - to admire myself. Hah!
29.  Starbucks napkins - You may think this is weird, but these napkins are the best for blotting your face.  Don't believe me, try 'em!
30.  Earrings
31.  Cellphone! - for texting.  Never for talking.  Never.

Oh and the purse!  Got it from my mother-in-law as a wedding gift.  It's the perfect size to hold all of my loot! 
Phew!  I have a lot of stuff.  If I had to estimate, I would say that my purse weighs about 10 pounds.  I have to juggle shoulders if I carry it for more than an hour. 

Well, hopefully I didn't bore you to death (especially if any guys are reading, though they probably stopped reading after the word "purse.")  I'm looking forward to my future purse guest posts!  Wanna share the contents of your purse?  Let me know!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Every single time I do laundry, I somehow end up with one extra sock of Timothy's.  Every.single.time.  Neither of us can figure out how this happens.  It starts out as a content half of a happy sock couple, and somewhere along that washing line, it looses it's mate.  Look how sad he is:

One little sock, all alone.  And if you wonder what those two little dots are at the toe (they kind of look like eyes in this picture! haha  I should draw him a frown too!)...I used a sharpie to mark all of Timothy's socks.  He has about 5 different sock styles that are just a tiiiiiny bit different and it's such a headache to get them paired up.  This makes it a little bit easier.  But it seems as though I am doomed to always have one random sock...makes laundry time even more of a joy.  :( 
Happy Sunday everyone!  Hope you guys in tornado danger zones, stay safe! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

DIY Paper Wreath

Today I thought I'd do my first tutorial!  As I've mentioned before, I absolutely love the website Pinterest.  For someone like me, who is horrible at creating things, but great at copying things others have done, it is an awesome tool.  I have seen several paper wreaths on Pinterest, and was disappointed when I could not find a tutorial for my favorite one, the link was just to a picture.  So, I pushed up my sleeves and got to work figuring it out.  It's hanging above the bed in my spare bedroom.  I think the pieces of paper look like calla lilies, some of my favorite flowers.  Here's my version: 

After seeing this wreath, my mom asked that I make her one as well.  I decided to work on it today, and take pictures along the way in case some of you wanted to make one as well!  Hopefully this won't be too long and confusing. 

Ok, here goes.  As the Pioneer Woman says, here are the cast of characters.  (Unfortunately, these characters and not edible.)

They are as follows:
1. Hot glue gun
2. Scissors
3. Box cutter knife (can use scissors if you don't have one)
4. Old book (that you don't mind tearing up)
5. 1 Large Plate and 1 Small Plate (or jar lid or coaster)
6. Piece of cardboard, foam board, etc.  (needs to be large enough to trace the plate onto.  I broke down a box I got in the mail for an Amazon order)
7. A coke can tab

Go ahead and plug in your glue gun, to get it heated up. 
Next lay out your piece of cardboard and trace around your plate. 
Note on the plate: use the size you want for your wreath.  Your wreath will be the size of the plate, plus about 5 inches (depending on the size of your paper).  I wanted a larger wreath, so I used a 12.5" charger (a little bit larger than a regular plate).  After tracing around your plate, cut it out.  Here's my circle.

Next, use a smaller plate that is about 1/5th the size of the large plate, to make a smaller circle in the middle of your big cardboard circle.  I used a 2.5" coaster,   Trace around the coaster or smaller plate and then cut it out.  (Quick note: please don't do what my friend in elementary school did and stab yourself in the finger trying to cut this middle part out.  You can fold the circle in half to make a center cut and then cut around the circle.) It'll then look like this:

Next, we're going to make an improvised hanger on the back of our wreath.  I found the best and cheapest thing that works is a coke tab, like the one below. 

If you don't have a coke tab, you can skip this step, or use another item to create a hanger.  Before attaching the tab, bend half of the tab forward, like this:

Next, place a little dollop, (of Daisy?!) no, of hot glue on the straight part of the tab.  Press that down on the back of your piece of cardboard, like in the picture below.  You'll see in a minute why we're not putting it closer to the edge.  When you go to hang your wreath, this tab will hang perfectly on a nail.

Now the fun and time consuming part!!  Open the book you are using.  I am using an old encyclopedia that my sister got at a Goodwill store for like 50cents.  I like using old books because the pages are long rectangles and are not stark white.  Use your box cutter, or one blade of your scissors, and go down the edge of the page.  If you use a lot of pressure and a sharp blade, you can normally cut out about 10 pages at a time. 

Ok this is the confusing part.  Hold you piece of paper longways, like a hotdog (thank you elementary school).  Grab the bottom corners and curl one side in.  There's really no good way to explain this without a video, but the finished product should look like a waffle cone.  The side that you did not curl inside should be on the outside (obviously).  Take that outside tab, and glue it down with your glue gun.  Here's a picture of what it looks like.  You can see the part above my thumb that is glued down.

Allow the glue to cool.  I went ahead and did 20 at one time so that the first ones were cooling as I glued the last ones. Once they're cooled, flatten down the bottom part of the cone.  Like this:

Now, take your cardboard circle.  It should still be bottoms up, so you should see the little tab you glued down.  Take your cones, put glue on the bottom flattened part and afix them to the cardboard and 1.5" from the edge.  They need to be close together, so that the top/fattest part of the cone sides are almost touching.  Like this:

For my size wreath, I used 20 cones for the first layer, on the back of the cardboard.  Allow those to cool, and make about 20 more cones.  Once the glue is cooled, flip your cardboard over. There should be nothing glued to this side yet.  Take your new batch of cones, with the tips flattened, and start gluing to the front.  This layer should be about the same height as the cones glued to the back, but should be glued in the "windows" or spaces between the cones on the back.  Make sense?  Should look like this:

Allow that layer to cool, and guess what?!  Make some more cones!  About 15 should be right.  Take these cones, and glue them so that the tips go to the edge of the middle cut out.  Again, find the windows of the layer above.  You should barely see any cardboard now.  Looks like this:

Allow this layer to cool and make about 8 more cones.  This layer gets a little complicated.  For these, you will actually bend the edges through the middle hole, to the back.  This way, you're gluing the ends to the back of the cardboard.  You see this in the front:

With the ends bended around to the back, like the picture below.  Glue the flap to the back. 

Now, you have two options here.  If you want this last layer to kind of stand up like the first picture of my wreath, you can do some bending and coaxing, and just leave this last layer as is.  Or you can glue the front side down.  Just put a little bit of glue on the back of the big open cone shape on the front of the wreath, and push them down, so that the front part doesn't flop around.  It should look like this:

You can leave your wreath like this, or you can add something else around the middle.  I thought this looked a little bare around the middle circle, so I crumpled up some small scraps of paper and glued them around the hole.  The end product looked like this:
Not really sure which I like best? 
Ok, hopefully that wasn't as confusing as it sounds in my head.  If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!  Hope everyone had a fun and productive Saturday!  Happy crafting!

Friday, January 20, 2012


It's Friday!!!!! Yay!  Any good weekend plans for you guys?  Me, I'm planning on staying home and doing some yard work.  I have like a hundred rose bushes in my yard and have only cut back about 1/3 of them.  I also plan on using this awesome present that my Nannie and PawPaw got me for Christmas.  A chiminea!!!
Don't worry, I know that once there's a fire in it, it can't be on the porch.  Trying to figure out a way to cook a little pizza in there too. haha.  Any suggestions?  Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I got nothin...

This is going to be a pretty short blog post.  Had a really long day today, and my attempt at a pancake dinner totally failed.  I guess that's what I get for using a store mix.  :(  Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who remedied that...with Zaxbys.  He knows me so well. :) 
Since this is such a short post, I'll leave you guys a little video for your viewing pleasure.  Some of my favorite artists, Sarah Jarosz, Allison Krauss, and Jerry Douglas.  Sarah Jarosz is somehow not well known, but her albums are great and so many amazing artists play on them.  You should check out more of her songs! 
This is a song off her new album, "Run Away"

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Taco "cupcakes"!

Dinner tonight:
Taco "cupcakes"!  These little beautes are made with wanton wrappers, taco beef, taco seasoning, black beans, and cheeeese (my fav)!  Recipe here.  (P.s.  This website has some awesome recipes.  Definitely check 'em out!)  I made the salsa as well.  Recipe here, and it does actually taste like Chile's salsa!  Just a little note: wanton wrappers are normally found in the produce section near all of the organic salsas and vegetables.  They normally come in a pack of like 50.  You only use about 25 for the taco cupcakes, so with the rest of the wrappers, I suggest you make these Pizza Rolls.  Delish!
Sorry I was MIA for a couple of days.  Had a nice and relaxing weekend, but am now battling a little cold.  :(  Bought some orange juice and hot tea, so hopefully that will change soon!  Hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chicken Parmesan

Just made this for dinner:

Husband gave it 2 thumbs up.  :)  Pinterest recipe for the win!  I even made the sauce from scratch!  You should make it this week.  Quite simple, and could be somewhat healthy (since it's not fried), as long as you don't add as much cheese as I did (have I mentioned I love cheese).  Recipes for the chicken parm and the sauce are here and here.  I cut the spices for the breading in half, and I still think it was too much.  Husband doesn't like spices very much, and after tasting it, I think it would've been better with even less than half.  Other than that, delicious!  Hope every one is having a good weekend!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Anybody that knows my family knows that we are nothing if not thrifty shoppers.  We each have a hard time spending more than $15 for a piece of clothing, brand new.  If it’s used (a la thrift stores, yard sales, or antique stores) that price cap drops to about $2.  I realize that I may not always look like I stepped out of Vogue, and I might not always take part in the newest fashions, but I feel like my purchases are always decent and hopefully flattering to my body shape.  I figured today that I would talk a little bit about how we shop. 
Of course there are always the clearance racks.  Whenever I go in a store, I always head to that rack first.  Yeah, some of the items are damaged, some don’t fit right and that’s why they didn’t sell at the regular price, and some items are just ugly.  But occasionally there is that gem that just works for you.  And if that gem only costs $4.97 (here’s lookin’ at you Old Navy) all the better for wearing my dear.    
The second place to look is outlet stores.  I was blessed with growing up about 7 minutes away from the Locust Grove Tanger Outlet.  When males ask where I’m from, I reference the Atlanta Motor Speedway.  With females, Tanger Outlet.  Pretty much always does the trick.  Now the whole sewing malfunction is most commonly present at outlet stores, but most of the times surplus or seasonal items end up at the outlet stores.  While some fashions fade from year to year, there are some fashions you know will be around the next year, so why not buy it at a discount during the off season? 
Most recently, my big finds have been online though.  Most commonly I use Slick Deals, a website that posts big deals and coupon codes.  Like today, I haven’t bought anything non-grocery related for myself since way before Christmas (and still have Christmas monies!!), and when I saw that Target is having a huge clearance sale, with free shipping, with 15% taken off at checkout, plus a 10% coupon code, I just had to browse.   I ended up getting 3 dresses and 2 nice sweaters delivered to my door for under $50.  The best thing about these items is that they can transition from winter (with tights and boots) to summer (with flipflops or flats).  I felt pretty proud of that deal.  I was so excited that I told my husband, “guess what I just got?” and repeated exactly what I just told you…and he started laughing!  Now, shopping is something I take pretty seriously, as any female would.  So with my ruffled feathers, I demanded “why are you laughing?!  Do you think that’s not a good deal?”  And he said, “oh yes!  I’m laughing because whenever you tell me you just bought something you list out like 10 items and then say it costs like 50 cents.”  You know, that’s something I’m pretty proud of, thankyouverymuch! 
A couple of other good places to look for deals:
Groupon has daily deals (like $20 of merch for only $10) and also escape packages. 
Living Social is pretty much the same thing.  Husband and I just got a two night stay at a historic inn on the coast, with welcome cookies and 2-day kayak rental for $115.  My mom also just got a deal for our girls trip to Hilton Head!  These companies also have good customer service.  After a business closed, my mom got a refund on her Groupon coupon, no questions asked.
I’ve also heard that Southern Savers is awesome for grocery couponing.   
So now, little ones…shop away!  Oh, and if you have any other good discount sites or ideas, or have any stories please share!

(Sorry no pictures in this post!  Maybe tomorrow I'll put together my favorite clearance outfit and take a picture.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

You remind me of a man…

In this ridiculously long post I mentioned that my background in swing dancing and my love of swing music inspired me to choose the name Bing Clawsby for my newest kitten.  So today I figured I would talk a little about dancing!  As a freshman at the University of Georgia, my roommate and I stumbled upon a flyer on a student billboard advertising free swing dance lessons on campus.  During high school I had been in a couple of musicals and always loved learning the choreography, so I figured “hey, why not try it”?  The next week my roommate and I attended a lesson on the Lindy Hop, and from that point on, I was hooked.  Not only did I enjoy the physical exercise you get while dancing, I also enjoyed the social aspect as well.  Because I didn’t want to feel pressured into the typical scene of drinking and partying during college, this entrance into the swing dance scene in Athens was a welcome option for socializing and meeting people.  The people who typically swing dance are respectable and outgoing people who understand that even though swing is considered outdated in today’s bump and grind dance scene, it is a very fun, creative, and appropriate form of dancing.  Of course, there are always a few creeps who don’t understand that most swing dancing is not supposed to be all-up-on-you physical, but for the most part the guys are chivalrous and respectful, and the girls have class and grace.   
When I think of all of the adjectives in that last sentence, I think of a certain group of swing dancers I met during my tenure at UGA.  After about a year of attending lessons, Tuesday night swing nights, and Friday night ballroom dance nights, I was approached by Swung, a group of Athens students, staff, and residents who choreograph and perform pieces all around the south.  I felt so honored when asked to be a part of this group, considering that most members had been dancing for years and were way better than I could ever hope to be.  Within 6 months, I was performing pieces with them. 

This is us!  You can see me on the far left in the black dress. (you can click on the image to make it larger)

 This is the first piece I was in, for Ballroom Magic at UGA.   I am on the far left of the frame, in the same black dress.

This is the last piece I did with Swung, also a UGA Ballroom Magic performance.  Again, I am on the far left of the frame (seriously, why am I always on the left?!?), closest to the front (but not the girl in the middle), in the green shirt.  

For the next three years I not only danced with these people, but became friends with them as well. They are the kindest, most accepting, encouraging, creative, amusing group of friends I could have found.  Their acceptance was appreciated more than I could ever explain.  They helped me transition into college and helped me feel like I belonged somewhere.    

This is how I feel about these people: (justification: this was like hour 3 of waiting backstage for the show to start)

The last year and a half of college I was a little more tied up in my boyfriend/fiancé and didn’t spend as much time dancing as I had in the previous years.  While I certainly do not regret spending that time with him (I mean come on, that turned out pretty great.  I am married to him after all (:  ), I certainly did miss those friends.  Not only did I miss the dancing, but my body missed it as well.  The physical exercise I was getting definitely helped prevent delay the freshman 15, and was a heck of a lot funner than running. 
Now that I have moved even farther away from my swing friends, I find myself missing them and dancing even more.  Any time I hear the beginning of “Hound Dog,” “Foot Stompin’”  or any of the other songs we danced to, I still have a moment of panic.  Where is my partner?!  Is the third move a basic Lindy or a Texas Tommy?!  I hope that reaction is something that never goes away, as it brings back great memories.  My only hope now is that I can convince my husband to dance with me a little more in the living room…he is, after all, the only partner I ever want.  :)

P.s. Ten points to whoever can tell me what the title of this post means.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I tried to kill my husband last night….with corn.

So last night for dinner, I made this:

 I know your reaction to that picture was probably “oh gross, that looks like throw up!  No way I would cook that!”  Trust me, it is actually delicious!  It is such a simple meal that the husband and I eat it quite often...You throw 2 frozen chicken breasts (I love this part, because I usually forget to thaw meat), and a jar of salsa in a crockpot, cook on low for about 4 hours.  Then add a package of cream cheese (use 1/3 less fat if you want it to be healthier) and let the cream cheese sit on top while on low for about 30 more minutes.  Stir all together, shred the chicken, and serve over rice.  If you want to mix things up, add some corn and black beans and use less salsa. 
Now, usually when I make this here meal I just use regular Picante Great Value salsa, but this week while grocery shopping I was feeling a little adventurous and got some delicious looking corn and black bean salsa.  It was even better than normal….until husband decides to have an allergic reaction.  See, husband here is allergic to corn that has been frozen.  Canned corn? Fine. Corn nuts?  Great.  Frozen corn?  Not so much.  I read articles about it (this has happened more than once) and apparently frozen corn has a larger amount of sulfite than fresh or canned corn.  Well, I didn’t think about the possibility of our harmless little corn fellas in the salsa I bought causing a problem. But, they did.  Don’t worry though, he didn’t really almost die and he didn't go all Will Smith in Hitch.  Just a little facial swelling, nasal congestion, and stomach pain.  I still kinda feel bad though. 
Moral of the story?  Make this meal. But only if you know it won’t kill you. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Honorable Martin Gecko and his crooner brother Bing Clawsby

Today I thought I would post about my pets, since they are kinda in the name of my blog! 
This is the honorable Martin Gecko.  He is a Leopard Gecko who has been with us for 1 ½ years.  A friend of Timothy’s mom had a Jumbo Leopard Gecko and after meeting the big guy (rest his soul, he had to be put down about a year ago), I just had to have one!  I’ve never liked reptiles, so who knows what was going through my head, but I’m glad I got Martin.  He is a cool addition to our family and an extremely easy pet.  They can go months without food.  Believe me, I’ve tested that theory, and it’s totally true. (Maybe not months, but definitely a month. At least.)
He was really little when we got him.  See?  (Yes that is my giant hand, no I do not have man hands…he was just that small!)
 And another

Martin has now matured into a strapping young lad and now looks like this:  

He is a very tame gecko.  He’s not skittish, and I think he actually likes being held now.  My sister told me that he’s gotten depressed since we moved into our house.  He used to be in the living room with us (you can see his terrarium beside the tv in this post), and now he’s tucked away in his own little room.  He subsists on a diet of crickets, meal worms, and his own skin.  Gross!  I know!  When geckos shed they eat their skin so it doesn’t lead predators to them to make a nice little afternoon snack.  I used to be paranoid that I was going to kill the poor guy, but he’s actually been a pretty tough fella!  They can live to be 30 years old.  Yeah, I could possibly have this little reptile in my 50s. 

And now, one of the sweetest cats I know, Bing Clawsby!  After reading in a blog about a lady's 24 fingered polydactyl cat named Ferris Mewler (yes I did just use 8 words for a hyperlink), I knew that my next cat MUST have an awesome celebrity name.  Since I used to swing dance, and love old music (especially this gentleman), I knew Bing Clawsby would totally work.
Enter, Bing as a kitten.
Isn’t he the cutest?!  He's much bigger and MUCH fluffier now, I kind of feel sorry for him, cause it's still so warm down here.
Bing as a grown cat.

And even though this one is not very focused, I like that you can see his tag that I got him.  He's the only cat I've ever had who is fine with a collar.

 In the past, I have gotten pretty cats that are ridiculously ill tempered, but I totally scored with this one.  He is pretty AND sweet!  Seriously, this cat has never been in a bad mood, which is pretty much unheard of in cats.  Bing’s favorite activities include: sitting in Timothy’s lap (yes my cat hating husband lets him sit in his lap, that’s how ridiculously sweet Bing is), roll around on the floor attacking his stuffed duck, and grabbing at my legs while I play my Wii Just Dance game.  He totally goes nuts while I’m trying to play that game, and I’m going to try to get a video of that soon.  

(Oh and for those concerned about my combination of pets...they don't know each other exists.  So we're safe for now!)

In this post I feel like I should also give a shout out to my main man Budgie and my sweet Lucy girl.  Budgie and Lucy still live at home with my parents, but they have both been around longer than Bing and Martin.  Lucy was the first dog my parents ever got.  She is 12 years old (seriously, she is that old?!), and still runs around like a puppy…well, when her arthritis is not bothering her.  :)  She has been a great dog and has more lives than a cat.  She has survived parvo, drinking termite poisining, jumping out of a moving vehicle, being trapped for 2 weeks with no food, and many more possible game enders.  I dare say she’s an even tougher cookie than Martin.
This is Lucy.  And buddy, she has earned that grey hair!

And Budgie…oh sweet Budgie.  Budgie weighs about 20 pounds, cannot meow, and drools more than a new baby.  But he. is. the. bomb.   My family refers to him as a “friend to all animals” and anybody who has met him could attest to his mild mannerdness  (I know it’s not a word) and overall awesomeness.  Did I mention that he can stretch like superman?  Yup legs out straight behind him, arms straight in front.  Pretty cool kid.
This is Budgie Pudge.

And now for my last and greatest pet.  Timothy.  Baha!  Just kidding, he’s great :)

 Happy Tuesday everybody!  Hope your week is going well!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Growing up, I absolutely hated the idea of cooking!  I always had a problem with raw meat, and actually didn't like eating meat as a kid. (Don't worry, I got over that eventually.  Me and fried chicken are best friends now.) One of the stories my mom loves to tell is of her coming home one day after asking me to cook some bacon for dinner.  Not only had I almost gagged all over the raw pig, I had on elbow high rubber gloves, tongs, and a knife, attempting to saw through the plastic wrapping to cut the bacon in half.  I wish I could say I was only about 12 when this happened....nope, 19.  Possibly older, can't really remember, which is crazy because it was a pretty traumatic moment in my life.  Fast forward a couple of years, and you see an engaged Julie Anna and her mom who kept offering cooking lessons.  But I would have none of it!  Fast forward just a few months, to when I became a wife.  A wife!  I can't really explain what happened, but something just clicked in my female brain and I began  actually tolerating wanting to cook and clean and iron and do all of that wifey stuff women are supposed to be offended by in this day and age.  In the past year and a half, I cannot count how many times I have called my mom for cooking advice.  Now I really wish I had taken her up on those cooking classes, she's a great cook with a lot of experience.  Also in the past year and a half I have asked for some type of kitchen appliance/utensils for every gift giving occasion.  For Christmas I got an awesome deep fryer, some beautiful vintage cookbooks, and a gorgeous professional grade KitchenAid stand mixer.  Needless to say, I have definitely broken out the deep fryer; can't wait to use the other things I got as well!  So anyways, I hope that food will be another aspect of this blog, to share recipes and food successes and failures.  To start this out on a high note, I'm going to post a picture of mine and the husband's dinner last night.  Phyllo wrapped chicken stuffed with spinach and cheese (I adore cheese!), honey baked tomatoes, and wild rice: all courtesy of my Southern Living cookbook (that my awesome sister gave me!) Enjoy the pictures!  And as Julia Child would say, Bon Appétit!

Sorry it's such a crappy picture, I am definitely not a food photographer!

Aaaand a crappy phone pic, but look!  Tots!

Cookbooks!  And a week old cookie!  Yay!

And my pretty mixer!  Here she is!