Friday, August 30, 2013

The Best Holiday.

Technically Christmas/my birthday is my favorite holiday.  But Labor Day is a very close second.  And while I realize that sounds a little bizarre, there's more to be excited about than just a single Monday off of work:

College Football.  Labor Day weekend is the beginning of college football season.  Autumn Saturdays spent either in Chapel Hill for gameday or in front of the tv for all the games are the best.
 Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  Starbucks (historically) releases the oh-so-delicious Pumpkin Spice Lattes (or frappuccinos in my case) on the Tuesday after Labor Day.  I can't wait! 
The US Open.  The US Open is the last major tennis tournament of the year, and is my second favorite (after Wimbledon, duh).  The tournament always sandwiches Labor Day weekend, running through the week both before and after it.
Myrtle Beach!!  Labor Day weekends typically find me at Myrtle Beach.  We had a little detour last year with Donny moving and our cross-country road trip, but generally I'm at the beach on Labor Day.  And that's where you'll find me this weekend.  :)

Was I right or was I right?  Labor Day is awesome.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Daily Face.

I've gotten into a pretty steady routine with my makeup-- not a lot of variety on most days.  I really love all the products I'm currently using and the "face" that I put together with them.  I may or may not use everything here on a single day (i.e. I don't always contour my face or create a smoky eye every single day), but in general, this is the routine--

Products
1. Too Faced Primed & Poreless
2.  Urban Decay Naked foundation
3.  MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural powder
4.  Benefit Hoola bronzer
5.  Too Faced Candlelight Glow highlighter
6.  NYX blush in Amber
7.  Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
8.  NYX single eyeshadow in Iced Mocha
9.  Urban Decay eyeshadows in Darkhorse (outside corner and crease), 
Virgin (inner corner and under brow), and Creep (as liner)
10.  Benefit Instant Brow Pencil
11.  Clinique Lash Doubling Mascara
(Not numbered) Vaseline Lip Therapy

There aren't any lip glosses in this picture because I wear probably three different ones within a day.  I keep NYX Butter Gloss (Creme Brulee) in my car, Dior Addict Gloss (Ambre Lumiere) in my bag, and Maybelline Baby Lips (Peach Kiss) in my desk drawer at work.  I love and use them all on a daily basis.



What are your favorite makeup products that I need to add into my routine??

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No Boil Chicken Alfredo Skillet.

Adapted from PlainChicken.com

INGREDIENTS
1 to 1.5 lb boneless chicken tenders
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. frozen broccoli, thawed
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 c. low sodium chicken broth
1 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. corn starch
8 oz pasta (I used farfalle/bowtie)
1 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese (more or less depending on your taste)
salt to taste
pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
Sprinkle chicken tenders with salt and pepper on both sides.  Pour olive oil into heated large skillet and add chicken.  Brown both sides of chicken then set aside.  DO NOT discard grease. Instead, add the garlic to it and stir for 15-30 seconds, just until it's warm and fragrant (be careful not to burn your garlic on the hot skillet).  Then whisk in chicken broth, heavy cream, and corn starch.  Once combined, stir in pasta. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until pasta is tender (15-20 minutes), stirring intermittently.  Stir in parmesan cheese (fresh grated or from a can is fine) and broccoli and let sit on the heat for a few more minutes, until broccoli is warm and cheese is completely integrated.  Top with the chicken tenders and serve!

MY THOUGHTS
This recipe was DELICIOUS.  Chicken alfredo is really hit or miss with me at restaurants because most places make them way too cheesy for me.  (Don't even get me started on the grossness of jarred alfredo sauce...).  So, I was glad that I could control the cheesiness of this recipe.  And I think I found a happy medium that wasn't too much for me but still enough for my cheese-loving husband!  Next time, I might try a parmesan/reggiano blend for a little something different, although the parmesan alone was delicious.

I love "no-boil" recipes that don't require me to dirty another pot for just noodles.  It does take a little longer to cook this way, but it's worth it if it makes clean-up easier!  This was also a pretty inexpensive dinner.  Not counting the staples that I already had at home, this cost me $14.99 exactly at Trader Joe's (which is the only place I buy "fancy" cheese anymore or chicken unless it's on super sale at the regular grocery store-- TJ is so, so much cheaper).  And we had leftovers.  Four servings for $15 is pretty good!

Oh, and Donny seemed to like it...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend.

This weekend was pretty uneventful and relaxing, which was very welcome after a crazy busy work week last week.  Both Donny and I had pretty intense weeks, so it was nice to just have some time to rest this weekend.

I spent a lot of my weekend reading.  After some pretty sad books, I went back to some old standbys-- David Baldacci and Michael Connelly.  I finished The Innocent on Friday night, Echo Park on Sunday afternoon, and started The Overlook on Sunday evening.  I'm SO glad that I got back in the reading groove this weekend.  I had slowed down my pace to less than a whole book a week, but I picked it back up!

Saturday morning, I was up early to play a tennis match that my partner and I had been trying to schedule for almost two weeks!  The crazy rain we've had this summer has made it difficult to get our matches in.  But Saturday morning was BEAUTIFUL.  When we got out there around 9:30, it was 68* and sunny.  Perfect tennis weather!  It was also sunroof-open weather!

Sunday morning, we were surprised to see our Sunday School leader appear in the baptistry to baptize his son!  It was such a great moment.  He, of course, got choked up as he was telling the story of his son's salvation, and there weren't many dry eyes near me either.  What a great way to start the Lord's Day.

I have a feeling (from looking at my calendar) that this week is going to be just as busy as last week.  But in just four days, I'll be at the beach!!  Can't wait!

Hope you all had a great weekend!  :)
Mingle 240

Friday, August 23, 2013

Book Club Friday-- The Midwife.

GoodReads Synopsis: At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in post war London's East End slums. The colorful characters she meets while delivering babies all over London-from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives to the woman with twenty-four children who can't speak English to the prostitutes and dockers of the city's seedier side-illuminate a fascinating time in history. Beautifully written and utterly moving, The Midwife will touch the hearts of anyone who is, and everyone who has, a mother.

My Thoughts:  I initially got this book from the library because I wanted to watch the BBC show, "Call the Midwife," and I'm SO glad I did.  This book was fantastic-- easily one of my favorites of the year.  It was not the quickest read probably because some of the stories she told were so heartwrenching, but it was so, so good.  I loved how she told some of the history of the medicine of midwifery and childbirth.  What she described in the 1950s seemed so antiquated, so her descriptions of childbirth even further back in history was astonishing.

These stories were so great-- I laughed, I cried, I was disgusted, and I was touched.  It was a very moving and well-written memoir.  No wonder it became a BBC show!  I'm very much looking forward to reading her next two books.

A beautiful quote came from Sister Monica Joan at the very end, which very aptly describes the book-- "How can you love ignorant, brutish people whom you don't even know? Can anyone love filth and squalor? Or lice and rats? Who can love aching weariness, and carry on working in spite of it? One cannot love these things. One can only love God, and through His grace, come to love His people."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Last Day in DC.

I'm finally wrapping up our trip to DC and Baltimore today! (And if you'd like, you can also go back and read Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.)

Monday was our last day there, and it was a BUSY one.  I really wanted to get out of DC by around 2 to avoid the horrid DC traffic, the almost as bad Richmond traffic, and get home without having to just collapse onto the bed for sleep.

So, we got up early, packed our stuff and checked out of the hotel before going to Arlington National Cemetery.  I wasn't super excited about going to Arlington, but it was Donny's #1 place that he wanted to visit while we were there, so we went.  And I'm glad we did.  I hadn't been there since my first trip to DC in 2002, and even then I didn't see everything that we saw this time.
John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy's graves in the foreground, the "Arlington House" 
(which was where Robert E. Lee lived) in the background.
The view from the Arlington house was phenomenal. The grave in this picture is Pierre L'Enfant, the architect 
of the city of Washington, DC. I love how they buried him here overlooking the city he designed.
The changing of the guard ceremony was SO cool.

Then it was time to go to my #1 place I wanted to visit-- The Newseum! (Interesting how we somehow didn't get to either of our top destinations until the last day. That definitely wasn't planned...) 
No line! 
They had some really awesome artifacts at this place!  
The Berlin Wall 
And a watchtower from East Berlin.
The Unabomber's cabin 
Pieces of the plane that hit the World Trade Center on 9/11 and stuff from the victims inside 
The clothes that Lee Harvey Oswald was wearing when he was captured along with the items he was carrying. 
Just hanging out with John Dillinger. No biggie.
The antenna from the top of the World Trade Center on 9/11. 
 On the wall are over 100 front pages from newspapers published on 9/12.
Tim Russert's office re-created exactly as he had it
Including his baseball collection.
 The top floor of the Newseum also has a huge observation deck that gives a fantastic view of the city!
But my favorite part were the historical front pages of newspapers and magazines that they have.  They're in these pullout drawers in a low-lighted room, and there are hundreds of them, and they're all originals.  I could have spent hours in there looking at all the stuff, but we were kind of on a tight schedule.
Photo from USA Today
The last thing we saw was the Pulitzer Prize Photo Gallery, where they display all the Pulitzer Prize winning photos since the 1950s.  Many of them are blown up and hanging around the display with the stories behind the photos.  And there's also a video that runs on a loop interviewing the photographers, their editors, the subjects of the photos sometimes, etc.  Again, I could have spent a long, long time in this room.
Photo from the Newseum
But alas, it was time to leave.
And we didn't quite get out of DC as soon as we wanted to, which led to it taking us almost two hours to get from Springfield to Fredericksburg (which is less than 50 miles apart).  But the delay through Fredericksburg meant that we did get to miss rush hour in Richmond!  But it was almost 11pm by the time we got home, and I didn't even unpack before climbing into bed.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip!  Now, of course, it's time to decide where to go next!!  :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer Bucket List Update.

Well, here we are in August. Summer has absolutely flown by! But, I've been pretty productive on the things I wanted to accomplish this summer!  As a refresher, here's my to-do list...
1. See an MLB game-- check check!  I've seen two!  The New York Mets at the Washington Nationals and the Boston Red Sox at the Baltimore Orioles.
2. Watch Fireworks-- We caught fireworks after the Kannapolis Intimidators game we went to on July 3rd.
3. Have a Pool Day-- I had a fabulous day at the pool with my mom the day after the Fourth of July.  Their neighbors were out of town and offered up use of their pool while they were gone.  It was perfection!
4.  See an MiLB game-- We saw multiple minor league baseball games!  The Kannapolis Intimidators, the Winston-Salem Dash (twice), and the Greensboro Grasshoppers
5.  Travel to a New Place-- I had never been to Baltimore before we went a few weeks ago.  It wasn't my favorite place in the world (other than Camden Yards), but it counts!
6.  Take pictures with my DSLR-- I took a zillion pictures during our trip a couple weeks ago and at the multiple baseball games we've been to.  It's still not a regular part of our adventures-- we forget to take it to A LOT of places, which gets frustrating.  I want it to be just another thing I carry with me.  I can tell such a huge difference in the camera pictures vs phone pictures (duh...), so I'm trying to get in the habit of taking more camera pics.
One of my fave DSLR pics from this summer!

So far, I think I've done pretty good!  And we've got some more plans up our sleeves through Labor Day weekend, so I'm hopeful I can get everything on my list checked off!  I loved having a list like this for the summer-- I'm definitely planning on a fall one too!

Monday, August 19, 2013

This Weekend I...

... ate my weight in fresh peaches.  My co-worker brought some fresh South Carolina peaches to the office on her way home from Florida last week.  They were starting to get too ripe, so I did the thoughtful thing and took a few home with me for the weekend!  SO GOOD.
 ... saw this license plate...
 ... had our first date with another couple from our Sunday School class at church!  Heidi and Andrew are getting married next June so are in our engaged/newlywed class.  We went to dinner then bowling with them on Friday night and had an absolute BLAST!  And I managed to score 131!!  (I won't mention that was my combined score from two games...)
... went to see The Butler.  I had such high hopes for this movie, but I left the theater very emotionally drained and seriously continued to cry about it all night.  It was so depressing despite some very funny and light-hearted moments.  Donny absolutely loved it though, so don't let my reaction scare you off if you really wanted to see it.
... finished The Art of Racing in the Rain, which was also emotionally draining.  This book took a huge turn in the middle, and the story got very, very sad.  It's hard for me to say what I thought of the book without spoiling the end, but I liked the book and recommend it.  But have tissues handy.
... and I started another (and very different) book on Sunday night while watching the Yankees/Red Sox game.  After my last five books, I needed one that wasn't going to make me cry.  Thank goodness for David Baldacci!

Hope you all had a great weekend!
Mingle 240
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