Saturday, April 30, 2011

Looks I Love #7.

I love black and white stripes and this outfit is darling...but, I'd probably go red shoes - you know me. Love, B

Friday, April 29, 2011

Water for Elephants.

In 2009 I read Water for Elephants with my book club which I've since had to take a long break from with my schedule just being too much to allow me to make the monthly meetings. First I had bible study on the same night. Then I moved it but I took on a little extra work for those nights. And later I just realized that fighting traffic for an hour up to the side of town it meets just wasn't working for book club continues without me but for the time I was there this was one of my favorite reads. I was totally in love with the book.

That of course made me a little nervous about seeing the movie, since we all know the movies are never as good as the books. That held true for this one, although my love for Reese Witherspoon really gave it a fight chance of nearing my love for the book. However, I did really enjoy the movie. I hit it up with Lindsay and Zach on Wednesday night after a grueling workout (lucky for you all, you didn't have to smell me the whole movie).

I will say that similar to my feelings on Country Strong, the movie was dark. It didn't have a feel good, happy ending vibe. At all. The book brought you full circle and was able to take you from the tough, sad part into a happier time before tieing it up with a neat bow at the end, the movie failed to do the same.

It wasn't the best flick of the year but I enjoyed it and would watch it again (but not pay another 10 dollars to see it in theatres a second time).


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Twenty-eight.

Me and Jess.

Easter Weekend Recap.

I know this is a few days delayed but I hope you all had as good an Easter weekend as I did. I've shared before that since moving to Tampa holidays are just not the same. With no family within a 5 hour radius, I find that holidays are vastly different. Not bad different necessarily since I have a great church family as well as I great friend base that keeps me from feeling totally alone, but it's not the same as veggie around the house stuffing my face with family, you know?

Well this Easter I didn't get to be with my own family but thankfully Thomas's family drew me into theirs and I was able to spend the Easter weekend with them. Friday night T and I went to my church, Grace Family Church for our Easter weekend service (we did the same service Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and it was so much fun to introduce him to my pastors and friends.

Saturday morning I did make the red velvet pancakes I mentioned here. They were a big hit. They were easy to mix but hard to flip, so if you make them yourselves I recommend making them smaller than you think and cooking them longer before you try to flip them or you'll end up with a bunch of halves! But we topped them with whip cream and chocolate syrup or at T's suggestion - Nutella. The general consensus was that they were delicious AND they tasted great that night when we took them out of the fridge as well. So, we recommend them.

Thomas cleaning up my mess after I turned the whole kitchen red with my pancake mix.

Post pancake lounging.

After the pancake party we ladies let the boy unpack the Uhaul of furniture that Thomas's parents had brought with them from South Carolina to further furnish their place and we headed off for manicures and pedicures. There are few things I'd rather do on a Saturday morning that have my legs massaged, lets me real, but it was also nice to have pretty toes for the Easter weekend - pretty teal toes, that is.

After our pamper trip I headed back to my side of town, grabbed some Yogurtology with Marta and hit the pool for an hour. I flew through the remainder of my book, Baby Proof, took a little nap, and then cooked a dinner for Marta so we could enjoy a night in, in our sweatpants. I made the baked penne recipes I shared on Tuesday and we feasted on a random assortment of items including skittles.

Sunday I headed back up to the northside to do church at Lifepoint with Thomas and family. Both Friday and Sunday it was neat to be able to worship with T for the first (and second) time in our relationship. I enjoyed the worship and message at Lifepoint and meeting some of T's pastors and friends as well as a few of the students in the high school ministry he volunteers with.

We made sandwiches back at the boys place for lunch that day and I managed to eat 5, yes 5, homemade truffles Thomas's mom made that were delicious. I have such a weakness for chocolate it's disturbing. And as Marta pointed out after my consumption of the 5th, no wonder my stomach hurts so often. Fine, caught. I couldn't resist.

I caught up on sleep and started another book that afternoon and at home before getting ready and joining the whole family for dinner at Maggianos. I love Italian food almost as much as I love chocolate so this was basically an epic fail of a day as far as my diet was concerned but it was worth it. I had pesto linguine that changed my life.

It was a wonderful holiday weekend and though it was sad my whole family was spread out across the US (per our usual these days) I felt right at home spending Easter with the Barbians. I've been trying to work those truffles off in the gym ever since...Hmm. I hope each of you had a special Easter holiday as well and that you remembered the reason for the holiday. What an incredible sacrifice was made and better still, to know that our Savior has risen.



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Twenty-seven.

I really like this one. From St. Pattys Day this year but I wanted to bring it back for the challenge. This was a special day, the start or something good...


Scattered Thoughts.

I've had a lot on my mind this week and I thought typing them out to you here would help me organize them in my head. We'll see if I can make sense of it myself enough to make it make sense to you here.

First off, I was struck this week with the great desire to be someone who has the ability to get to the heart of a matter. I desire to be someone who addresses issues head on and while not seeking out confrontation, doesn't shy away from the tough conversations. This came to light as I was struck with the idea that in recent situations I haven't let my actions match my words. I long to be someone who is consistent in the way I feel and speak and the way I act.

As you all know to be true about me when I find a problem, I want it fixed. So I spent some time thinking about how I've handled a few elephants in the room lately, and then I picked up my cell phone and dialed up the person I knew I needed to get real with and said the hard thing. The thing I knew that person wouldn't want to hear. The truth. My thoughts, my feelings. I was humble and respectful but I was uncompromising and firm. I desire to be a person of character and of inner strength and while that change doesn't happen by having one tough conversation, character is made in those moments in which we find that we are not yet who we want to be and we must continue to grow.

I'm thankful that the conversation went well and that my opinions were met with a loving and accepting response. To say I was surprised would be an understatement but the glow from that conversation has continued to light up this week. Sometimes doing the hard thing will not meet with such a favorable response but I hope that I will always be someone who takes pride in doing the right thing over the easy thing. I am learning to be more completely honest and open than I have ever been before and I'm watching the Lord reward that. It has not been without it's growing pains.

The power of love is another concept that's recently been on my mind. After getting a surprising text message from someone I've grown apart from over the years both out of necessity and out of natural progression of life I was reminded that our love never totally fails. When we love, people are changed. Sometimes that change takes a while to reveal itself but it never returns void.

I was truly touched by that reminder and challenged in my current relationships. Everyone the Lord brings into our lives is an opportunity to show his love. Are we taking those chances seriously? What does it look like to love? To extend the kind of friendship that leaves an impression, even 8 years later. Those chances are too important to miss or to mess up.

Along those lines, I've been pondering what it means to serve. The bible talks over and over about it but I'm muscling through what that looks like in the practical sense of the word. Right now, for me, with the people I'm surrounded with. How do I serve my family, my friends, my boyfriend, my church family? What does it look like to put their needs above my own and to be purposeful and intentional in the way I serve others?

I'm still working on that one but I wanted to share it so I'd be accountable to continue to be looking for ways to serve.

Thanks for letting me blabber about things.



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easy Dinner Ideas for This Week.

Loving the facebook feedback lately especially as it relates to easy meals. Turns out that what I write here isn't a waste of time since not only are people reading it but some of you are actually really making the meals - woot. Cooking is a rather new pnenom for me. Having someone to cook FOR hasn't hurt - but honestly, I'm enjoying packing my lunches now that they don't contain sandwiches or lean cuisines. And cooking on Sunday afternoons has become a relaxing addition to my weekend routine.

The Philly cooking cremes I've clearly become obsessed with were on sale last week at my grocery (Publix) so I actually tried 2 more of their recipes.

Sante Fe Chicken Enchilada Soup which was good but I have to say soup is just not really winning out for me over 'real food'. It's like salads v. meat and potatoes or something. I just don't get as excited about soup. But as far as soups go this one is delish AND paired with some chips and salsa, really not a bad little number.

I also made Baked Penne Philly style when Marta came over for dinner the other night. We both really enjoyed it. This was simple to make and VERY affordable (pasta usually is). I brought Lindsay some for lunch yesterday and her e-mail afterwards to me was:

That baked penne was the best penne pasta I've ever had in my whole life.

Seriously... delicious. And only 370 cals! BAM!

So if you're wanting to follow in my footsteps this week the baked penne is probably the way to go. Again, you could sub turkey for the beef or nix the meat altogether for my vegetarian friends. If you keep giving me positive feedback I may just keep giving you meal ideas. Hint hint.


Picture Challenge - Day Twenty-six.

Fancy dress up dinner with T. : ]

Monday, April 25, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Twenty-five.

Me sporting Thomas's glasses at dinner the other night. No, my face is not this freakishly pale, it's just the flash on T's iphone.

We had a fun dinner at which last minute T ended up being the only man amongst a crowd of beautiful ladies. What a rough life, huh? ; ]


Book Review: Baby Proof.

I've had this book on the self for a while, meaning to read it but getting distracted by new books that kept coming out. So finally in my excitement over Something Borrowed the movie coming out in May of this year, I decided it was time to get back to reading Emily Giffin. After skipping this book, her third, I read the 4th book last year - Love the One You're With which I previously wrote to you, was not my favorite. Giffin recently released a 5th book entitled, Heart of the Matter which I hope to read soon (perhaps I'll buy it on Kindle, I haven't been using my Kindle enough lately).

Baby Proof was a funny choice for someone like myself, whose somewhat neutral on the kid thing. Claudia and Ben, the perfect couple with big plans, excluding babies find themselves at a crossroad when Ben has a change of heart and the sudden desire for children while Claudia remains solidly in the 'no babies' camp. The book takes you through their ups, downs, and discoveries throughout. You see them grow as people and the author keeps you guessing on just how things will work out.

I laughed and cried as fell in love with both Claudia and Ben as well as a few others key players along the way. I felt myself torn between both camps and going back and forth between Team Ben and Team Claudia. A fun summer read for all and I highly recommend.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Twenty-four.

Happy Easter to you all. : ] I hope it's been a special one. Today marks a year since I began a weight loss journey and I rang in this easter half the size I was last year. Pretty exciting stuff. Wanted to show you all my new dress my mom bought me for Easter as well. So far it's been a great day. Worshiped with Thomas and his family at his church, Lifepoint, this morning and then had a delish lunch with them. Headed to Maggianos to finish a great Easter over dinner with them tonight.


Looks I Love #6.

Again, love her. I know I featured Reese last week but this casual grocery shopping outfit it adorible. I would wear everything she has on. Together. Just like that. Love, B

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Twenty-three.

Somehow I think neither you all nor I will be sad when this whole pic thing is over with. ; ] But it's been a good challenge and all.

This pics from last night before T and I went to the good friday service at church. It was so fun to finally worship together for the first time. We're spending tomorrow (Easter) with his family at his church so it was fun to get to introduce him to my pastors and church family Friday at the service.

I hope you're all having a special Easter weekend.


Ps: The red velvet pancakes were delish. Try em.

Rose Petal Crafts.

As I posted last week Thomas sent me beautiful flowers at work before our date last Thursday which included my favorite flowers (mini carnations) but it also contained my second favorite flower - roses! Of course the mini carnations are still going strong (my favorite part about them is they last FOREVER, what could be better than that) but the roses have started to dry up. So Tuesday morning I pulled the petals off....

Being the google-savvy girl I am, I took to the internet for craft ideas of just what treasures I could create with my rose petals (because, let's be honest - I loved them too much to throw them away). I found a few 'eh' ideas before stumbling upon Maure's flicker page which contained this image:

I love decoupage! I haven't done it since college (when I had a few pretty cool project along the way) but after I saw her images I thought, what a perfect idea. She decoupaged (as pictured here): a piece of cardboard, a bangle bracelet, and a big wooden bead. After searching further I found that a few other people had made napkin rings out of toilet paper rolls - sheer brilliance. BUT my roses are pink and my kitchen is red so I don't think that would be my best call.

I decided that since I wanted to frame a picture of T and I anyway, I'd start with a picture frame. I picked up the supplies at Michael's on lunch Tuesday and here are the results...



Friday, April 22, 2011

Griddle Griddle Griddle.

I had so much fun flipping flapjacks on a griddle while we were visiting Thomas's family in South Carolina a few weeks ago that I just HAD to rush out and buy myself a griddle. I found a great family sized (you know, for my current family made up of me and my roomie) @ Big Lots for 21 bucks. It's a Black & Decker and I haven't used it yet but Lindsay and Zach borrowed it to cook for a band that was staying with L last week, and they approved it and were delighted by the warming tray. Oh I'm fancy, huh?

So Marta and I have been dreaming on pancakes (and grilled cheese sandwiches) ever since and low and behond I find a blogpost yesterday with these yummy looking red velvet pancakes courtesy of Emily of at The Secret to Success is Support.

I stole her amazing picture to show them off to you but you can find the full blog by Emily here. I think I may have to give these a try this weekend while Thomas's parents are in town for Easter weekend. We'd talked about a Saturday morning pancake party anyways and these look like life-changing. I promise to keep you all posted if I make them with all my thoughts. Until then I will be dreaming in red velvet...yum.


Picture Challenge - Days 21 and 22.

Night out. : ]
Headed back from the eye doctor with their 'sunglasses' inserted in my real glasses because my pupils were dilated. Awesome.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dating on a Dime.

It's no secret that I love to have a good time but I'm always looking for ways to get the most bang for my buck. After taking Dave Ramsey's course I've purposed to live on a budget but to not allow my budget to limit my fun. You're only 25 once, right?

So in light of that I was thinking to myself the other day about inexpensive dates (lets not use the word cheap, because no girl likes a 'cheap' guy, right?). I mean as far as I'm concerned - thrifty is in, cheap is out.

So I took to the web and started reading through other peoples ideas of a good date on a dime and let me tell you there were some real loser dates mixed in there. While I love to volunteer, if you take me to a nursing home on a date (and it's not to meet your great-grandma) - there's a good chance that date will me our last. Painting the elderly's fingernails is just not the way I want to spend time with the person I'm dating. Volunteering, yes... but not a nursing home. I don't know why but that just sucks the romance out of it for me. Also, I do NOT want to make each other pillow cases...ever. And giving blood is NOT my idea of a date. Eck. Even if it comes with free movies tickets, I'm probably saying no to this one. Yeah, that was on a list. BUT have no fear, there were a few winning ideas as well...

Watching the sunrise or sunset. Not a bad idea at all especially when, like myself, you live only minutes from the beach. Basically free (have to factor is gas which is rather redic at the moment), totally romantic, and available to all. I give this a thumbs up. (from

Flee Market. I wouldn't have some up with this one on my own but I actually think that would be a fun date. I love to people watch and you never know what treasures you might find. ( from

Dress Rehearsal. Here's an idea I never would have come up with on my own - if there's a show in town you're dying to see but the tickets are too expensive, call around and see if you can buy tickets to the dress rehearsal. Apparently this is frequently possible but few people know to give it a try. Love this idea. ( also from

Cooking In. This one is listed a lot and I love this idea. I've really taken an interest in cooking lately and I keep the meals simple and inexpensive. But cooking for T or for friends is climbing my list quickly of favorite things to do.

Baseball Game. This one was also on several lists I read. I'm much more of a football girl than a baseball girl as you all know but baseball tickets are wicked cheap compared to NFL tix, and I love any outdoor sports venue, so I actually think this is a great idea. You can find baseball tickets (not the better ones) for 10ish bucks a piece. Great memories, good food...winning combo.
Camping Trip. I actually think a group camping trip sounds like a blast (and cheap). I've never really been camping (once, in a pop-up camper) but I'd be down. (from

I thought I'd get creative and give you a few ideas I came up with on my own so...

Dating on a Dime according to Me:

Museum Freebie. I happen to be a happy and loyal Bank of America customer and while depositing some money in the ATM a few months back I noticed that they have a list of museums their customers can go to for free, just for being a BOA cardholder. I got online and found out that here in Tampa I can go to the Tampa Museum of Art for free. I happen to love art so this is now going on the date list (Hey T - since you read this ...can we go? Please?).

Groupon it. I subscribe to Groupon and Living Social which send out daily e-mails letting me know about deals I can get my hands on. I keep an eye on them and last week I bought a groupon as a date. Thomas being history teacher and me loving to explore I bought us a groupon for 2 tickets to the Henry B. Plant museum - which I immediately thought would be a great date after reading the following from their website:

If you’re railroad magnate Henry Bradley Plant, in the midst of the sand swamps that would be Tampa, you construct the most astonishingly magnificent hotel of its day, then fill it with treasures from around the world.

With its splendid Moorish architecture, opulent furnishings, and spectacular tropical gardens, Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel attracted a host of celebrated guests, from Teddy Roosevelt to Sarah Bernhardt to Babe Ruth.

A visit to the Henry B. Plant Museum and the authentically restored rooms of the Tampa Bay Hotel will transport you back to a time of indulgent ten-course meals, waltzing on the veranda and alligator hunting by moonlight.…The journey is still worthwhile

Doesn't that sound fun and romantic? And this thrifty gal bought the 2 tickets for $10 bucks. I think that's pretty reasonable for a date, don't you? I'll have to post about that after we go.

Similarly to keeping an eye on Groupons and Living Social deals, you should also check on occasion. It's a great way to get a good meal for less money and an excellent excuse to try a new dinner place.

Game Night. I love to play games. Actually, I love to win. But the playing part can be fun too (if I'm winning). I think this is a great group date. Having other couples (or even just friends) over to play games is one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend night.

Comedy Club. Some of you who have been reading my blog for a while may remember the challenge I took a while back. My friend and I after buying a book called '1001 Way to Meet Mr. Right' decided to try 10 places each from the book. I drew a night at a comedy club and while I didn't find Mr. Right it was actually a total blast. So I'm throwing this on my list of inexpensive dates. We found b1g1 tickets for 8 bucks and went as a group before, totally worthwhile. We also ended up getting given (while there) free tickets to a movie screening. It was like the date that kept on giving.

Day Trip. I love a good mini-road trip. I'm all for hoping in the car and going somewhere fun within an hour or two drive. In Tampa this leaves lots of options - beaches, islands, outlet malls.

Those are my top 5 but lets just say I've been more motivated than usual to think of such things so more may be coming soon. But in the meantime, I'd love to hear some good ideas from you all, what's your idea of a good, inexpensive date?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Twenty.

Trying the fedora I bought for Thomas on for size... I'm a little scary here, let's be real.


Well, it won't come as a surprise to you all that with gifts as my love language, I love holidays! I love an excuse (or will do so with no excuse) to send out cards or put together presents. It brings me so much joy to give people things, no matter how big or small. If you're not familiar with the 5 love languages you should check it out, it's taught me so much about how to relate to people in a way that makes THEM feel loved. But anyway...

Easter is one of what I like to call the awkward holidays. Not because Easter isn't super important, especially for those of us with Christian beliefs. But unlike Christmas and Thanksgiving for those of us with no local family - what exactly are you supposed to do with holidays like Easter? There's not really enough time off work to go home (plus that's wicked expensive) but it still has that feel of requiring family. It doesn't seem like you should spend a holiday with as much faith important as Easter alone or just hanging out poolside with needs something more than that, right? So, what?

Well sorry, this blog post won't actually contain the answer to that (although for me, this year at least, it will involve spending some quality time with Thomas and his family). This blog is actually about the creating of the ultimate Easter baskets. My Mom use to make us Easter baskets every year, even after we'd gone away to college (I don't, however, think were getting them this year...hmm) and I use to love getting them. They usually had a few fun items, a few practical, and some candy.

So I texted Marta & Lindsay and asked them if they wanted to go on an Easter basket making adventure with me Sunday afternoon. We met at my house at 3:00 and departed. The adventure included fro yo, 3 stores, a lot of laughter, an embarrassing video of me ranting about ping pong and Forrest Gump, Marta squeezing in the world's tiniest shopping cart, and 3 days of the boys trying to guess just what we had in store for them.

These weren't your typical brightly colored baskets full of jelly beans....

From left to right: Thomas's, Brenton's, & Zach's easter baskets for 2011. Containing everything from party cookbooks and beard trimmers to iphone cases and pastel ties to fedoras and chick flicks - we think we made the best Easter baskets ever. I have to say, Brent's being in a storm trooper head (that talks) may take the cake for this years most creative but hey, there's always next year.

I think each of the boys enjoyed their surprise and got a few things they love and/or need. Truthfully, we probably had even more fun making them than they did receiving them, but there's nothing wrong with that - right?

I hope each of you has a Happy, Christ-filled Easter filled with people you love.



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Picture Challenge - Days 18 and 19.

I'm changing it up, these pictures aren't actually of me BUT they're awesome and they have alot of my love in em so there ya go, they count. Thomas's 6th period class of 8th graders has been so funny and supportive of our relationship that we thought we'd show them some love with baked goods...

These are Rocky Road brownies. Dark chocolate chunk brownies with milk chocolate icing mixed in with marshallows, chocolate chips, and there should be nuts but I left them out unless anyone was allergic.

Peanut butter cookies with cocoa pebbles. These are yummy - and made up by yours truly.

Cocoa crispy treats. I also made rice crispy treats (I had a bunch of cereal and marshmellows on hand from when they were BOGO at Publix a few weeks ago). I did have to grocery shop AT ALL to bake last night, I had been stashing up the stuff that had recently been buy one get one for the last month or so. Cha-ching.




A few have already tried out the slow cooker lasagna recipe I posted last week to help you all eat well on crazy weeks (like all of mine seem to be lately). It's funny how domestic I've been lately, I've never enjoyed cooking as much as I do lately but I've decided to roll with that for as long as it lasts. I tried 2 new recipes on Sunday afternoon - you know in the spare time between church, brunch, and surprise mission with the ladies and dinner @ Thomas's...Whew.

I made crock pot pulled pork for the first time which I loved because it only requires 3 ingredients and takes very little time... If you're interested in giving that a try you will need:

3 lbs of boneless pork ribs

1 18oz jar of bbq sauce (I did honey bbq, because that's what I like)

1 can of beef broth

Put the meat and broth in the crock pot on high for 4 hours (this took place while we were on secret mission for the boys). Then I came back and with Lindsay's help I pulled the pork with 2 forks. This is a little time consuming mind 30 minutes with us both working on it. This may have been because it was our first time, or it may just take that long to pull 3 pounds of meat, I'm not sure. When you're done load that in a greased pyrex and mix in the bbq sauce to cover all the meat. Bake in the oven on 350 for 30 minutes and TA DA - pulled pork.

I combined it with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans for T and I's dinner last night (and leftovers for lunches this week).

Since all the Philly recipes I've tried so far have been delish (and reasonable in price to make) I decided to try another this week and made this. It is ah-mazing. I think each of you should throw one of these together at some point. Also, if you're not a red meat eater (I know a lot of my blog friends aren't ) I think you could totally make this with ground turkey instead. I did beef this week because A. I kind of like beef and B. it was cheaper this week because it was on sale @ Publix. Whoo hoo.

I've started making my meal plans for the weeks based on what's on sale or BOGO at the grocery store and I'm getting WAY more bang for my buck.

Hope these easy meals are helping you as much as they are me (you know, by keeping me full AND making me look like a totally amazing girlfriend).

I know many of my readers have crazy lives like mine but want to save money and stay healthier by not eating on the go all the time. So as long as you keep reporting that you're trying and enjoying the recipes, I'll keep posting them from time to time.

Love, B

Monday, April 18, 2011

Playing Catch Up.

Well hello darlings. Feels like ages since I've sat down to write so today will just be a bit of catch up from the last week or so of barely writing. This past Saturday was our first event of 2011 and I felt great about how everything went. It made for a busy week with all the craziness you all know to be my current schedule anyway. But the Lord was so good and blessed us with beautiful weather and a successful event.

That kept me busy through the week, with a few breaks to see friends, hangout with Thomas, etc. It also made for a busy, HOT HOT HOT Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. I cooled down with fro yo from Yogurtology with Thomas that night and watching Harry Potter (I watched the new one, even though I haven't seen any of the others).

Sunday was perfect. Spent the morning at church, worshiping and growing with my Tampa bestie, Auburn. Followed closely by brunch @ Ellas with Nancy and Bryn, my Tampa family and got to introduce them (the first of my friends) to Thomas over Soul Food Sunday grubbing. The food was delish and I was of course delighted that 3 of my favorite people got along famously.

Friday night was spent celebrating my precious long-time friend, Sara's 25th birthday. We grew up on the lake together here in Tampa and have stayed friends from the 5th grade on. We both moved back to Tampa in recent years and picked up right where we left off. We also went to Ellas. So they fed me well all weekend.

Ok, back to Sunday. Marta, Lindsay, and I went on a super secret mission Sunday afternoon for our boys (Brent, Zach, and Thomas) but I'll have to share more on that after we give them the results tomorrow (Tuesday) night. I think we've succeeded in driving them all a little crazy with what we did, so it'll be fun to let them in on the secret. Then I can show you all the process and just how much fun those ladies are.

Found time in the crazy weekend to cook a few new recipes after a giant grocery store trip yesterday (got 40 dollars of free food too, I'm so thrifty). I made crock pot pulled pork and a delish tex mex casserole. So lunches for this week are done and done. Headed into the office shortly for post-event clean up. Just wanted to check in and let you all know I'm alive! I've survived. And I'm back on the blog.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Looks I Love #5.

(image taken from
I'm kind of neutral on this new denim dress trend. Maybe because I wore them when they were popular in the 90s and now that they're coming back I just feel old? But I love Reese Witherspoon. I love her as an actress, a fashionista, and even like stalking her personal like a bit from time to time. I do love this dress especially in combo with the boots. I'm not sure however, I would have done tights.



Picture Challenge - Day Seventeen.

Sportin a new dress for date night. : ]


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Picture Challenge - Days 15 and 16.

Ok so it's event day and this week has been crazy so excuse that I'm a little late with the 15th. Here's day 15, me headed out to celebrate my sweet friend Sara's b-day.

And day 16: me ready for our event today. Let's do this.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Twelve.

Ta da - bathroom mirror pic.

By Popular Demand...

Many of you via facebook, twitter, e-mail, and blog comment wanted to know what recipes I was using for my slow cooker so I thought I'd pass on the one I did last night. It is DELISH! I found it on Prevention Magazine's website for healthy slow cooker meals on a budget. It comes out to less than $2 per serving.

I will say, I altered the recipe a bit. I made mine with ground turkey instead of beef and I forgot to buy the tomato sauce so I ended up using a can of vodka sauce but I actually think it was a great trade off. I didn't put as much cheese as the recipe called for, but even if you do - the recipe is really quite low calorie!

So without further ado you can find the recipe here. Happy slow cooking.

Love, B

Monday, April 11, 2011

Balancing Acts.

I couldn't be happier with the direction my life is headed right now. Some surprising and exciting new developments like Thomas have made it even more fun and rewarding. Some things are coming to an end - like volunteering for the church softball league on Friday nights. A few things have been added, like weekly dinner dates with Marta and babysitting on Monday nights. So now I'm back to wondering just how I balance all of these things gracefully.

I've been thinking through my priorities and just what it is I want to do well. This list is somewhat ever-changing though it has it's fair share of things that stay the same. I want to be faithful in my quiet times, my workouts, and my relationships. I want to be a good friend. I want to be a diligent housekeeper (this by the way, has not been true lately). I want to be an organized and prepared leader of my small group.

I continue to add balls to juggle but thankfully over the last year or two I've become increasingly faithful to remove them then the time is right. That being said I've still got a pretty intense schedule to keep up at the moment and I'm still wondering just how I'm going to do it all and keep my sanity.

One thing I'm trying this week is using my crock pot. I figure if my meals can cook themselves for the week while I'm sleeping or at work, that should help substantially. This is looking like one of those weeks I will take few lunch breaks and when I take them it will be to run a pressing errand.

I made a grocery list and I will hit Publix on lunch today to buy the ingredients I'll need. I'm trying two new low fat, low calorie slow cooker recipes and I plan to devy them up for the week for both T and I's lunches. He's pretty sweet to try anything I cook and so far I haven't made a total dud (knock on wood).

This weeks focus is doing everything with excellence but allow myself enough down time (or off time) to keep my sanity. Sunday afternoon will be spent recovering poolside after I work our first event of the season all day Saturday. Here's do successfully dominating this week until then.

Love, B

Picture Challenge - Days 10 and 11.

Sorry this one's late but yesterday was so perfect, I didn't have time to think about posting a picture. So, to end my perfect Sunday we did a triple dinner date @ Frenchy's on the beach. Lindsay (above) is the one who introduced Thomas and I so I thought she deserved to have her pic up too. : ]

Also check me out as a guest blogger here.



Sunday, April 10, 2011

Looks I Love #4 - Workout Edition.

I love workout gear. Maybe because growing up my Dad got us all kinds of cool gear through his work - or maybe because I've recently falling in love with working out, I'm not sure. I like to keep it simple, mostly black and a little something like these...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Nine.

Sportin the Snooki poof...heeeey!

Miracles Happen - An Update.

It is with great joy and a huge grin that I finally write a follow up to what continues to be my favorite blog post to date - Miracles Happen.

In that entry I talked about praying for a man I'd never met, to later be blessed to know that a miracle really did happen. I'm a little ashamed isn't taken me this long to tell you the next part of that story... A few days after that post Rich himself commented on my blog and said:

Becca, Thank you so much for your prayers and sharing your need for prayer. I will commit to lift you up regularly as the Lord leads. Please continue be transparent in your faith. God uses everything to ultimately glorify Himself. Warmest regards and press on friend, Rich

Soon after we became facebook friends. And later I would finally get to talk to him face-to-face in my office building for a first of several times since. And I have to smile at the kindness of a God that let me meet a mircle that came as an encouragement to me in a tough time.

As we approach our Tampa event for my work this year I was reflecting that this time last year my coworkers and I were praying Rich would have enough strength (while still doing the treatments) to bring his son's out to our event.

Rich came and since I didn't know him yet I remember tearing up from afar as I watched him doing the event with his boys. I wrote on his facebook the other day and it sums up exactly how I feel: Was thinking this morning when I saw your registration for the FKE that this time last year, we were praying you'd have enough strength to come with your boys. What an amazing year since then it's been. God is so good. : ]

I share this with you now to say that for those of you who read my blog and are of likeminded faith, we serve an incredible God. A God of mercy and of miracles. We should be quick to share those. Love, B

Friday, April 8, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Eight.

From last night's Yogurtology date with this pretty lady....

Bryn! My Tampa little sis who I couldn't adore more. It was her first trip to my fav fro yo joint and I believe it was a success. : ] Love, B


Back in November I wrote this entry after being inspired by the heartbreaking story of Zac Smith. After meeting his family that evening and telling them just how touched I was by their story I found his wife, Mandy, on twitter. She posts tons of cute things that their kids say and I've enjoyed 'keeping up with her' (or creeping depending on how you look at it) over the past few months.

Earlier this week she wrote

'My dad has stepped into eternity. Cannot wait until I see him again. God is still God and God is still good. To God be the glory. Always.'.

God is still God and God is still good was the overwelming theme of Zac's message. A man who lost the battle to cancer but never lost his faith in a good God. I watched that video over and over and asked myself, do I have that kind of faith? I spent some time in prayer talking that out with God and it went a little something like this...

So, God, I've been thinking...we're known each other for a long time now. We've got a lot of great memories. We've got some tough ones. I messed up A LOT, especially in college - thanks again for forgiving me. I know you kind of wanted to give me that 'I'm so disappointed in you' speech my Dad use to use, but thanks for not. I've been wondering a lot lately just how strong my faith is. You say if it's as small as a mustard seed, I can move a mountain. But what happens when it gets really rough? How strong am I? How strong are we? You say you don't give us things you haven't prepared us to handle but what about the things that are right on the line? When those times happen, how am I gonna do? Because I don't want to mess it up Lord. I've done that. Enough times I'd say to last a lifetime. And I know I'm not perfect or anything but I'd rather not royally mess this us, you know? I want to be more like Zac Smith, God. Because he was solid. He trusted you like I want too....

Here's what struck me the other day though. I don't have cancer. Lord willing, I hope I never will. But for the last 11 months I have battled my own body pretty seriously. Someone asked me when I first posted about my struggles here, why I would make my business public. Why tell you guys about the hard stuff in my life? Why tell you the nitty gritty's about my illness?

Why. Well, that's a great question really because it comes with an answer that brings a smile to my face. I determined right before that entry that I was unwilling to compromise my belief that I serve a God who cares about the details. I wanted to make the statement that I trust. That I believe. And that I will worship the Lord if I continue to be sick until the day He allows me to come home to Him and get my new, heavenly, body. And so I wrote. I wrote and told you all what the Lord has done and what I believe he will do - sustain me.

So maybe I'm not quite as far behind Zac as I once thought I was. I have not been given as great an illness and that may be because the Lord knows I can't handle it. But the Lord knew my heart when I felt that challenge back in November, as I was already battling my own sickness and seeking the Lord's peace when my body can't seem to find any. It is my hope and my prayer that the Lord has received glory through my struggle and that I have honored him along the way. And as I continue to deal with some tough stomach trouble I continue to believe that God is still God and God is still good. And as Mandy said, to God be the glory. Always.

Love, B

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Seven.

Guess who's learning to cook? This girl. Sporting an apron from my Mom, baking a Santa Fe Chicken Casserole, drinking a diet coke with fresh limes.

The casserole turned out delish and it was easy to make so I also thought I'd share it with you. You can find the recipe here.

I'm actually loving learning to cook lately. Trying new things. Bringing a certain someone food to try. : ] It's been a fun new adventure.



In House Business.

First off, I want to celebrate that my blog hit 30,000 views over the weekend! That's a pretty big milestone and I was thrilled about it. So thank you to all my readers from the bottom of my heart, it's nice to know that what I write, gets read. So, use this as your excuse to eat dessert today- we're celebrating!

I had a great time in South Carolina this past weekend. First off, as a Christensen, the Carolinas have a special place in my heart. They're also currently home to my two favorite people - my sisters. Sadly, I wasn't able to see those two this weekend but it was great nonetheless.

I enjoyed the entire trip but the highlight for me was probably the 3 mile walk Thomas and I took Sunday morning. It was fun hearing about his neighbors and childhood stories while seeing where he 'grew up' (he moved around a bit like I have). The weather was unbelievable and it was just a great chance to enjoy that and chat together.

I also got to do my bible study homework while the sun rose, with a lake view. I mean, what more could a girl want? I woke up early (my freakish internal alarm clock does that to me) and while the house was still quiet, I got to spend some time with the Lord. I was so glad I remembered to bring my study with me. We're currently doing, 'He Speaks to Me' by Priscilla Shirer and it's getting me pumped up for the sequel, Discerning the Voice of God. I've put a lot of thought into my prayer life over the last year or so but I think frequently as Christians we talk more than we listen in our 'quiet times' and I'm only now realizing the error of that way.

Last week we took off from bible study and hosted a spa night at my place. Three talented friends donated their time and talents and the proceeds benefited our friend Tiffany's mission trip to Russia this summer. One of the services was eyebrow threading and can I just say my eyebrows have NEVER looked this good - Monica just earned herself a new client.

It really turned out to be a fun night and the concept played out so well, Tiffany is using it again this summer. So...success!

I also wanted to debreif a bit about my doctors visit last week. Thank you to all the people who let me know you were praying for me - your prayers were felt! For the first time ever I was really excited about the doctor I met with. He was incredibly kind and took the time to try'n get to know me and what I've been going through with my health. He wasn't too quick or rash to make a course of action but I truly feel like he's serious about getting the results I want - my life back.

They did have to take 4 viles of blood to test which wasn't fun, obviously. I hate having my blood taken as a few of you may remember from the one and only time I tried to donate blood and had a rather tramatic experience. Eck. But maybe the tests will shed more light on the situation.

For now, I'm trying out a medication for IBS and it kept me well all weekend while I was with Thomas and his family. You may remember that I previously declined the medication route to see if we could cure my problems with dietary changes. Unfortunately that was a major bust so medication it is. I'd love your continued prayer as we iron out the solutions to my problem. But I'm encouraged to have a specialist I like and a plan of action in place. One more thing...I'm joining up with some lovely blogging ladies for this:

Weight Loss Challenge

And over the next 8 weeks I plan to lose 12 pounds over the next 8 weeks. That's 1.5 per week. I think that's a challenge but doable and healthy. I will be doing that by continuing to count calories and bust my butt in the gym. I've been on this journey almost a year now - but it'll be fun to link up with these darlings and maybe some good progress before summer really kicks off. So please stay tuned and I'll take all the encouragement I can get. ; ]

After two great weekends out of town I'm looking forward to playing a little catch up (mostly on sleep and sunshine) at home this weekend. Life is good, friends. Life is really good. Thanks for being a part of it.

Love, B

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Six.

Today's post comes with a few confessions. I confess that I literally stalk Nordstrom Rack's sale items. And when the ones I love hit just the right price, I buy. It's a challenge. I make it a game. And I win. Let's be honest we ALL know how much I love to win, at anything. I also confess that when I shop I take pictures of myself in the dressing room, like the one below and send them to a friend,frequently Lindsay, for their opinion. My most recent purchase (this week) was this coral reef colored dressed by Halogen, a brand I've recently taken a new interest in. This was the day after the South Carolina road trip so excuse my tired looking self. Things just got real. Love, B

Quote of the Week.

Assumptions are the termites of relationships. - Henry Winkler

You know what they say about's true. Enough said, really.

Love, B

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Five.

Another picture of Thomas and I from this weekend. Since I showed you all my brunch dress I thought I'd show you that I did in fact wear it (and three other dresses) this weekend.

This picture posting thing isn't so bad so far.



Looks I Love #3.

(Image from the Budget Babe)

Obsessed with this outfit. Can I please jack this entire look straight from Cameron and wear is when I travel. She looks fabulous. I have several pairs of boots but riding boots in brown are still high up on the list of things I still want. I wish they weren't so expensive and there weren't so many days of the year I'd be miserably hot in them here in Florida. But how perfect would it be to arrive in New York in this ensemble in May?

I've also been desperately wanting to buy a Fedora because I think they're presh. However, I inherited my Dad's oversized head so they aren't particularly flattering on me. Wah. Maybe they have a version for people with big heads? I'll look into that.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day Four.

Well I'm back from South Carolina and we had a great trip/wedding weekend. I thought I'd go ahead and share a picture from the reception. Please note my fabulous blue shoes and my handsome boyfriend. ;] Love, B

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day 3.

I've made a few plugs for alterations recently and how they can make or break an outfit. I bought this dress on clearance at the BCBG outlet to wear to a brunch this weekend while I'm away with Thomas for his cousins wedding. I wanted something bright and springy. I'm thinking I may rewear it for Easter Sunday? Anyway, this is me at the alterations place trying it on after a well spent $12 that made it fit me perfectly - including having the length taken up so that I didn't look 5 feet tall (hey, that 3 inches is important - 5'3 is short enough). Hey, I'm not doing half bad with this picture challenge so far. How very myspace-y of me. Love, B

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Picture Challenge - Day 2.

Date night outfit & a new shirt. Found this as a steal on the clearance rack from the BCBG outlet on the way back from my Keys Trip with Jess. Not only was it 75% off but I had a coupon for an additional 20% off. Ballin'. I had to take two pictures so you I could show off the shoes, too. I LOVE these shoes. They're from the Cole Haan and Nike combo project so they're comfortable, even for all day. I'd love to have a closet full of them. : ]