Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Baked Zucchini Sticks

During summer in the south (and most other places too, I'm sure), zucchini and squash are staple vegetables in our house. Not just because we love them, but because we usually get a never-ending supply of them from our grandparents.

So, I am always trying to find new ways to cook them besides the standard stir-fry (and country fry)method that I love.

I found this great recipe for baked zucchini sticks at King Arthur Flour and new I had to try it. While the dip recipe that went along with it looked amazing, I don't have a food processor or the patience to caramelize onions.
via

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium zucchini, unpeeled, cut into 3"-long stick
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup coarse, dry bread crumbs (e.g., panko)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • olive oil spray
  • 2 large eggs



Directions:
1. Cut zucchini in half then quarter the halves and preheat the oven to 425°F
2. Place the zucchini sticks in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with the tablespoon of salt. Let the zucchini drain for 1 hour or longer (they give off a lot of liquid and this helps get rid of it) rinse and pat dry.




3. Combine the Panko, Parmesan, and Italian seasoning in one dish and whip the egg in another.

4. Dunk the sticks a few at a time in the egg, then place on a sheet of wax paper and sprinkle the pankomix on top of them. The original directions said to "roll in the panko crumb mixture", but the crumbs get so clumpy from the egg that they don't stick as well. 

5. Place the sticks on the baking sheet that has been sprayed with olive oil spray (or Pam).



6. Bake sticks for 12 minutes, turn over, and bake for an additional 8 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.




7. Enjoy! (as you can see, I enjoyed mine with a fat steak, onions and roasted potatoes).

Do you have a great zucchini recipe?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

can I get a Relay?

Yours truly is going to co-chair the Relay for Life campaign for the entire county of Edgecombe. I am a little terrified of the daunting task, but also so proud to be a part of such a great organization that is working hard to find a cure for cancer.



Thankfully, I am not doing this alone, my friend Caroline (who just happens to be my “monogram person” and owns a great shop downtown) is the Chair of the event and will take the lead on most things. Caroline is who I spent most of last year's Relay dancing with all over the football field in the wee hours of the morning.
last year's shenanigans described in a shaky, blurry photo

I'm not going to pretend like I didn't have to think long and hard about this decision. I love Relay and I have always enjoyed fund-raising, coordinating with my team captains at the school district and planning out our campsite (read about that here) – however one of the big reasons I left my position at ECPS was to spend more time at home and avoid late night meetings and the stress of pulling together a big event. 

2012 "All I Want for Christmas is a Cure"

2011 Beachin' for a Cure banner

I prayed about it and prayed about it, and then I realized that with all that cancer has taken away from me, how I can't resist the chance to do something more to prevent it from hurting anyone else.

So, come next May I might be running around like a crazy person and after we launch the 2013-2014 campaign in October and we officially take the reigns, I might be a little frazzled, but I know it will be worth it if even a little bit of the money we raise can make a difference and help people celebrate more birthdays!

Want to learn more about Relay for Life? Visit http://www.relayorlife.org/.

Monday, July 29, 2013

six years of change

Six years ago yesterday, Joshua asked me to marry him after a little over two years of dating (read about his very non-mushy proposal here).


While the amount of time that has passed since then shocks me, the other thing that surprises me is just how much our "plans" have changed in that span of time.


In those 6 years since we got engaged, some pretty typical things such as losing family members, changing jobs, moving and gaining weight and all that kind of stuff happened - but our paths have also changed.

When we got engaged, I was about to enter my junior year of college. I was interning at "Her Magazine" (which worked out so well since my amazing boss Jane asked me to chronicle my wedding planning in a column called "June Bride") and planning on pursuing a career in journalism.

I also had plans of graduating in May 2009 from ECU. But instead, I pushed myself super hard by taking a ton of hours and lots of summer classes so I could graduate early in December 2008 instead so Josh & I could go ahead and get hitched (I wanted to be done with school and off my parents payroll before we started our life as husband & wife). My plan was to stay on at The Daily Reflector and become a reporter....

Plans changed. The newspaper business took a turn for the worse. Instead of hiring people, the paper was sending people out the door with their offices packed into boxes.

I finally got into the newsroom after almost a year of working as a sales rep at a small newspaper at home... and realized maybe being a reporter wasn't for me. I liked features-style writing about happenings, fashion, people, etc. not reporting about town meetings and police reports. I also discovered that I loved layout design and Adobe Creative Suite.


Plans changed again. I left the paper and took a job in communications and public relations. Loved job, loved co-workers (for the most part) and loved that I got to plan events, design promo materials and coordinate fund-raising for great campaigns... but hated controlling crises, having two cell phones (one which I wasn't allowed to turn off) and late, late, late nights away from my family.



Dreams changed I decided I wanted to turn that event planning love into a career and also wanted more time at home with Josh & Sawyer (who was another plan change since we wanted to wait awhile before having kids... a good kind of "oops"). So, I left the PR job and took my current position at DuckRabbit  where I can leave work at 3, and really leave work not take it with me and also have time to start planning for my dream.

Other things that have changed are my goals. I would have given anything to get out of Edgecombe County, now I am trying my hardest to stay here and help this place grow, as is my amazing husband who is working as hard as he can as the Director of Planning for our new town, Tarboro (just 15 minutes from where we grew up, same county) to bring changes, foster growth in older and new businesses and to KEEP PEOPLE HERE.

But you know what has stayed the same in those 6 years? How in love I am with this amazing man who I am blessed enough to call my husband. Actually, that has changed a little too since I find myself loving him more and more each day. But, I am so happy that despite all the changes in our lives since July 28, 2007, he has been my constant cheerleader, confidant and rock.

Our first summer of dating in 2005 to this current summer.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Letters

Dear person who commented on my "Baby Divided Shower" post and asked where I got my invitations from: I would love to respond to your question, however you had a no-reply-comment address and I couldn't find your email address on your profile, so please send me an email (leh0927@alumni.ecu.edu) and I will get back to you, but I actually made them.

Dear SugarLove Boutique: I am loving my precious dress & bangle I got during your 40% off flash sale this week and I love even more that you shipped so quickly!

Tahitian Sunrise Dress

Kensington Bangle Bracelet


Dear Football Season: I am not one to rush away the summer, but I must say that I am really looking forward to seeing all my friends almost every weekend, playing lots of exciting tailgate games and screaming for my team with the rest of the Pirate Nation.



Dear Summer: I like you and all, however you're not a lot fun when I'm not in school and out for the summers and instead get to enjoy your 94 degree temps inside my un-air-conditioned office - so while I'm not rushing you away, I would really like you to call off just a little.
my only answer to the heat
Dear Cool Firepit we got at work: I am excited to use you during our tasting events once the weather cools off, you're going to look so pretty (and keep the bugs away)


Dear Self: Quit buying the cute pre-packaged hummus & pretzel containers and fruit, veggie & cheese packs - it is lazy and expensive. Just go get the stuff yourself and make the little packs every day, geez.


Dear SassySteals: I really love the the fan fringe necklaces I bought from you on July 5, but why is my order still "processing" over 20 days later?! Come on.
ship already! 

Dear Sawyer: You "shaving" last night with daddy was seriously the highlight of my week.


Dear Readers: I hope y'all have a very merry weekend filled with happiness, fun & exciting adventures!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

your side of the bed

I absolutely adore Little Big Town, and their new song Your Side of the Bed is a favorite of mine. While the song is obviously figuratively talking about "your side of the bed", it made me think what my nightstand says about me.

why yes, this photo was taken around Christmas, probably the last time our room was this clean and the bed was made up this nicely.

In our old house, my side of the bed was flush with the wall beside our bed, so I had to pass things to Josh to put on his side of the bed which had a nightstand. So in the new house I made sure that I left space for me to have a little bedside table.



On my side, on my little wicker table I stole from our patio set, are the following items:
  • A lamp
  • A stack of Southern Livings with their pages marked for recipes, house ideas and decorating tips
  • A picture frame holding the picture from NYE of me, Josh & Sawbug
  • My bible - a purple McArthur Study Bible that my parents gave me in 2011
  • A bottle of Tums. I never had heartburn ever in my entire life until I got pregnant with Sawyer, and even now that he is 2, I still get it.
  • My water glass from the night before
  • The little statue of a couple embracing that my Mema Kay gave me during her last Christmas with us.
  • Three of my books, “The Fixer-Upper” by Mary Kay Andrews, “Vision in White” by Nora Roberts and “Savannah Blues” also by Mary Kay Andrews – I’ve been re-reading a bunch of Andrews’ books this summer (because they are that great) and I soooorta stole the “Vision in White” book from the beach house we rented in the OBX (hey, I was right in the middle of reading it and we were about to leave, so I had no choice really).
  • One of Sawyer’s books – “Goodnight Moon” (which he has memorized and reads along with me)
  • The ponytail holder & bobbi pin I took out of my hair last night
  • The 2013 Pirate Club Football ticket ordering catalogue (mainly because I stuck the extra stickers in there)
  • Then on the floor, the cover to the book "There Was a Coyote That Swallowed a Flea" (another book of Sawyer's).
Obviously all this stuff means that I am...
1) a pack rat who hates to throw away magazines
2) a dreamer who thinks she can actually reproduce all the recipes, decorating and parties in said magazines 3) someone who is trying to make her love of reading inspire her youngen to enjoy it too
4) a Pirate
5) trying to be better about reading my Bible, I have gotten horrible about letting that fall through the cracks when it should be at the top of my priority list.
6) always wearing my hair in a ponytail or messy bun then forgetting to take it down before climbing into bed
7) getting old, who seriously has to keep Tum's on their nightstand besides old people!?
8) nostalgic for my Mema. I love being able to look beside be before going to sleep and seeing that little figurine she gave me and think about her.


So what’s beside your bed? 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sawyer's best skill: embarrassing his parents

My child loves doing embarrassing things to me.  From yelling “mommy pooted' in Hobby Lobby (read about there here) to saying “can I poke your booobies?” in front of coworkers (here) – but Sunday morning he managed to embarrass his daddy instead.



Josh & I had to keep the toddler nursery Sunday at church and while I was singing in the choir, my sister stayed back there with Josh and the three kids and Sawyer in the nursery (until I could get done singing).

Apparently during that time, Sawyer got a little curious....

Josh remarked that he couldn't believe our friend Dana's son Colton has already turned one and that it seemed like just yesterday Dana was pregnant.

Sawyer got a little puzzled look on his face and said, “Daddy, where did Colt Colt come from?”

Josh blew it off real easily and just said, “From his house.” (As if Sawyer was asking where did he come from before church).

Sawyer wasn't satisfied with this answer.

“No, how did he get in Dane Dane's belly?” he asked.

Josh said, “Jesus put him there”.

Sawyer then responded with another question, “Well, how did he get out?”

Josh stammered and stuttered for a second before saying, “Magic.”

Sawyer seemed satisfied with that answer. So let's hope it holds him off for at least 10 to 12 more years.

Hopefully, the other kids in the nursery won't go home asking their parents the same questions... or telling them how Josh explained it to Sawyer either....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

delivery feelings.

When talking to my friends the other week about our delivery stories, I realized just how different all of our labors were. One friend had a c-section, another had to endure forceps and suction, two friends pushed for what seemed like forever and then me & my friend LP both struggled with preeclampsia. Which is what I am going to post about today.

So, before I begin this post I feel like I need to go ahead and say one thing. I hate to even type this but… I am aware of how blessed I am that I had a healthy baby. I know that my husband and I were blessed enough to have a baby and to not have struggled to expand our family. And I realize that things could have been a lot worse. So nobody really needs to remind me that I should be grateful that my child didn’t have to spend weeks in the NICU or that I don’t need to complain since there are some people out there who can’t even have kids. Because as I said, I am aware. And I pray, and hate it for those who had these kind of issues.

That being said, I am sharing this for one purposeNot for pity that I didn't have a regular, run-of-the-mill deliver.  I am sharing this because I want to share it. I want someone out there with preeclampsia who is scared of what's ahead to be reassured that things might be bad, but they will pass. That it is okay to not look like a super model after your delivery like all the girls on Pinterest (and it's okay if you look absolutely amazing too ). 

When I posted about the days leading up to, and the actual day that I had Sawyer, I did a basic time-line of what went down. (read here) But I never talked about how I felt. How scared I was knowing that my delivery wasn't going to be "normal". How disappointed I was that I didn't have all the things I wanted with me for the big day. How angry I was at myself because I felt like it was my fault that I couldn't keep my blood pressure under control and Sawyer was going to have to come early because of it.

a very swollen me, sitting with my feet propped up at my baby shower almost a month before Sawyer was born
I didn't mention in that post that I didn't want any photos taken of me while I was in the hospital because I felt so disgusting. In moments where I should have been overjoyed and ready to share pictures of me, Josh and my brand-new-son with the world, all I could think about was how gross I felt because of the magnesium and how bad I looked with so much swelling. Instead of focusing on what an amazing miracle I was holding and how blessed I was that despite an "abnormal" delivery, I had a very healthy and precious baby boy - all I could think was, "I am disgusting."

Later when I Googled "preeclampsia delivery" and "magnesium sulfate drip and delivery" I felt so much better. Hundred and thousands of mothers had posted about how they hadn't had the energy to hold their child or how they couldn't even focus on how amazing their baby was because they were so out of it from the drugs. I realized that I wasn't alone.

I remember seeing this picture of me and being so upset... (despite it being a great shot, Michelle)
But that doesn't change how ashamed I am at how vain I was/am. But it's real, it's the truth. When I looked at pictures of my friends smiling and posing in their hospital beds holding their newborns and just radiating life, I wanted to cry. I have to remind myself that I am not smiling and radiant in my pictures because I felt absolutely horrible and had a BP hovering around 180/110 and was hooked to a bag of a drug famous for making people feel like they have the flu (stupid Mag).

never had I been more happy to have a blurred face.
After I was able to eat for the first time in 3 days, and shower for the first time in our 4 day hospital stay, I felt so much better. The magnesium wore off, my stitches didn't hurt so bad and I felt like a "normal", tired mother to a newborn. That horrible feeling didn't last forever and I was so happy to take every picture I could with my Sawbug and Josh. 
a much happier photo taken two months later at PirateFest (another shot by Josh's cousin Michelle)
So sister-friends out there, trust me in saying that it gets better. And that it's okay not to feel amazing and happy and beautiful after giving birth, and it's okay if you do too. And if this post made you never want to have a baby ever, sorry... 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekend Shenans

Y’all, I swear I am going to get back into blogging more regularly. But today, I shall re-hash this weekends shenanigans by linking up with Sami for Weekend Shenanigans! Let me tell you, things got crazy.

Friday night started with a wild party… with a mickey mouse theme… for little Colton’s first birthday at our friends Dana & Bradley’s house. 




There was some mackin’ at the party... Sawyer took this chance to kiss on his new girlfriend, Ella – my friend Hope’s little 3-week-old baby girl. 


 Then as we were leaving, Sawyer informed Bradley that his “ bean bag boards are uggy” (don’t know where he would have gotten the idea to say that… Go Pirates!)



We had a busy Saturday which involved a HUGE grocery shopping trip…. for groceries. I re-organized our pantry and freezer and planned out meals for like three weeks, then bought two carts worth of groceries.


But then I came home, watched Josh & Sawyer build a big tent in the living room, painted my nails and watched She’s the Man.






Remember when Amanda Bynes was normal? Oh and when Channing Tatum was this young… and this bad of an actor?

I rounded off the crazy Saturday by folding a mountain of clothes and then finally had a chance to catch up on some blog reading!


Sunday was sadly spent in the bed thanks to a nasty cold that attached our entire house followed by me planning out my outfits for the week to avoid stumbling around at 5:45am trying to throw something on. 


How was your weekend?

Monday, July 15, 2013

3 weeks later....

Oh hey, remember me?

Sorry it’s been so long (yikes, over 3 weeks). My last few days at the school district were anything but relaxing since I had to launch the new district website before I left, then I started the new job and realized “oh hey, my internet at home is courtesy of the wireless hot spot on my work cell phone and I no longer have that” so blogging was a little difficult.. you know, without internet. But I am back (thanks to a new phone).

Monday was my first day at my new job. I admit that while I was extraordinarily excited about this new adventure I was also very nervous. I am definitely out of my element considering that the last three years of my life were spent in a big building surrounded by about 30 women with only 3 guys in the whole place, two of which (who were my favorite people) were out in the warehouse, and our district had around 1000 employees in total. At DuckRabbit, there are 8 employees including me, and I am the only girl.

My new office space is also very different. It is shared between me and the owner, is where the bathroom and refrigerator are housed, and also holds the only exit/entrance to the brewery (besides the tasting room door). Quite a longshot from the brand-spanking-new computer with dual monitors and all the gadgets I could ever need inside of an air-conditioned space all to myself that I’m used to.



It is also un-air-conditioned and un-organized, but the un-organized part is the reason I’m there!
my "computer" and piles of sorted papers
the boss' side of the office.... which need some work.

But you know what else DuckRabbit doesn't have? A million late-night meetings, hair-pulling stress (so far), a mandatory work cell phone to be answered at all times or reporters!

I have been pumped each morning to put on a pair of jeans & a sleevless shirt or t-shirt with my Jack Rogers versus the suits, dresses & heels of which my work wardrobe used to consist. Since I’m leaving the house at 6:30am, I've started laying my weeks-worth of clothes out on Sundays so I don’t make a lot of noise OR stumble around when I get up in the mornings.  
clothes sorted by day with matching jewelry in ziplock baggies #OCDproblems
new work "uniform" lots of monogrammed t-shirts. 
With a new job, also comes some more new changes. I've been packing my lunch every day (pretty easy since now I won’t have several friends who lunch out every day and since restaurant choices will be a little more limited) so we’re saving some money (and I’m eating better). AND when I get off at 3 I’ve been hitting the gym as soon as I get back to Tarboro. With no more late night meetings or pro-longed hours at work, eating dinner earlier and at home is so much easier!

Also, I have really delved into researching grant opportunities, restoration incentives and locations for my dream of one day turning an old tobacco barn or stable into an events venue. Yes, seriously.



I’ve started getting things together to study for the GRE too, in hopes of attending grad school online next spring.

Hopefully, I am about to get back into the blogging habit, too.