Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mother Nature

Mother Nature has been pretty unforgiving for the past week as she wreaked havoc accross the Southeast. My family and friends experienced her wrath for two days in Arkansas while we experienced her devestation this afternoon. It's dark now, so most of the devestation won't be seen until tomorrow morning, but reports are coming in that more than 25 people have died in north Birmingham from the same tornado that devestated Tuscaloosa. There is no telling how many death and injuries have resulted accross Alabama.

My stomach was in knots this afternoon as I watched live coverage of the mile-wide tornado heading towards Tuscaloosa. I have never seen anything like it before, and it is a picture that will always be in my mind. The tornado was heading toward Birmingham, and Michael works in the city and had not made it home yet. Fortunately, he left in time and made it safely home before the storm moved into the city. This is the second time Birmingham was hit today, as several people were affected by fallen trees and power outages in the neighborhood we lived in when we first moved here.

I can't imagine what the victims of these tornadoes must be going through, and I pray that God will comfort them as they piece their lives back together. I feel blessed that we were spared because storms were all around us. I pray that all the storms will pass, and I am looking forward to a calmer month of May!

Methodist Church in Cullman, AL

Amazing picture, yet so eery

Tuscaloosa, AL

The tornadoes hit Birmingham later on today, so very few pictures are available. I am afraid that Birmingham will wake up to a very sad scene tomorrow morning.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter Everyone!

I had a wonderful Easter weekend, and I especially loved today! My mom came to Birmingham on Friday, and we have been hanging out all weekend. Unfortunately, Michael had to work Friday night and all day Saturday. We got up early this morning to attend 8 a.m. church. Our church is normally crowded on traditional Sundays, so we decided to go earlier which turned out to be a great idea!

Celebrating our 8th Easter together!

Me and my mom!

After church, we met our friends Jamie, Eric, and baby Eli at Cracker Barrel for brunch. Sundays our my cheat day, and this was the first day I could eat sweets after lent, so I chowed down! Well, I knew I was going to work it off later because we had an afternoon of yard work waiting on us at home.

The ugliest, most overgrown trees line our driveway, and they are out of control! I can't believe how much work it was to just clean the darn things, and it still looks like we barely touched them. Michael used an electric tree trimmer, but we are seriously going to have to take a chainsaw to them really soon!

You can see how much the trees were growing over the driveway

Poor Michael! All he wanted to do was sleep all afternoon, but I made him work.
Look at all of those leaves!

Much Better!

We also trimmed Miss Scarlett as well! Her skin allergies are out of control again, and I think it's because grass and ragweed and all sorts of things get caught in her fur and make her itch. I pretty much butchered her, but I think she feels better. She looks like she lost a few pounds too!

She is such a good doggy!

After her hair cut!

I made a non-traditional Asian Easter dinner tonight. I love Asian food, and I am slowly learning how to cook some of my favorite dishes. I'm going back to my diet tomorrow, so I wanted to go all out tonight. I made homemade Asian lettuce wraps and shrimp pad thai, and I feel like they turned out pretty good!

I have gone 40 days without any dessert, sweets, or candy, and I cannot wait to get my hands on my dessert that's waiting on me in the refrigerator. I picked up a piece of 4 Star chocolate ganache cake from Whole Foods, and yes...I plan to eat the whole thing!

Doesn't that look good!?

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter Weekend! I am so blessed to be a believer, and I am so happy to know Jesus lives!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eggs Are Bad!

But wait...I thought eggs were good for you! What's all this about the "Incredible Edible Egg?" Eggs are good for you, eggs are bad for you, do you like eggs? Well then eat them!!!

The debate over eggs is one of a gazillion confusing issues we Americans have about food - I being one of them! What we eat should be easy, but I think we can all admit, what we put in our mouths is the topic of debate every day! We are obsessed! Off the top of my head, I can easily spout off different types of diets that are all supposed to produce miracles:

The Cabbage Soup Diet, South Beach Diet, Atkins Diet, Lemonade Diet, Hollywood Diet, Weight Watchers, Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Nutrisystem, Vegetarian, Vegan, Grapefruit Diet, One Good Meal Diet, Slim Fast, Protein Shakes, Special K Diet, Soy Diet, Whole Wheat, No Red Meat, Diabetic Diet, Alli Weight Loss, Acai Berry, Low Fat, Zone Diet

Sadly, I knew all of these, but I promise I have not tried all of them! Ones I have kicked around a bit are the Atkins Diet, Vegetarian Diet, Slim Fast, and Whole Wheat.

About two years ago, I drastically cut down the consumption of meat. My anxiety was very severe, and I read several articles that claimed eating meat creates anxiety because the animal produces anxiety and adrenaline hormones when slaughtered, and these hormones are in the meat we eat. I don't doubt that there is merit to that argument, and I followed it strictly. So, for two years, I have been eating a ton of whole grain and dairy, almonds, some veggies and beans, little fruit, and lots of ice cream! I thought I was eating healthy because I didn't eat meat, and I ate whole grains.

My day to day anxiety has diminished compared to where it was; however, I have the brittlest nails, my stylist says my hair is thinning, I am always bloated, my stomach hurts every day, I have had little energy for a while and I just haven't been feeling my best. I don't feel bad, but I just don't feel really good either.

I started researching (because that's what I do) other diets, and I ended up so confused because everyone's opinion was so conflicting. Obviously my list of diets proves that point! I came to the conclusion that all of our bodies are different, and what I have been eating because someone told me to eat it may not be working. I need to figure out what works for me.

So, here are two "diets" that I have started to follow to see if they will improve my energy and curtail some of my symptoms. I don't really like to call them diets because they are more about changing my lifestyle and eating habits rather than losing weight. I want to feel better and be healthier, and I want to cut down on processed food.

I have pretty much combined the ideas of The Paleo Diet and The Blood Type Diet to suit what I want and like to eat. I was introduced to The Blood Type Diet by my coworker Keri whose trainer told her to try it. Basically, you eat and avoid the designated foods depending on your blood type. I am O Negative, and funny enough, I am supposed to avoid all grains and eat lots of meat (pork excluded), which is not even close to what I have been doing! Some fruits and veggies are excluded, and mostly all dairy is excluded. No Ice Cream!!!! Some of the foods that I am "not allowed to have," I refuse to give up. These include: avocado, oranges, strawberries, blackberries, eggplant, pistachios, peanuts, Greek yogurt, and coffee. Supposedly, my blood type receives the most benefits from beef and lamb, cod, olive oil, pinto beans and black eyed peas, broccoli and spinach, plums and tea. Mostly, I've followed the suggestions for meat and grain with this diet.

The Paleo Diet is interesting as well. This diet is followed much more strictly by major meat eaters who are trying to bulk up. Many who practice Crossfit follow this diet to add protein. I'm not interested in bulking up, but what I like is that it promotes whole foods. Processed foods are not allowed on this diet. It is strict when compared to the average American diet because it only allows foods from the Paleolithic Era, including grass fed meat, game, fish, vegetables, wild fruits, eggs, and nuts. Only water is allowed as your beverage of choice. That means NO dairy, beans, grains, sugar, coffee, tea, or alcohol. I found some great recipes that don't make this diet seem too bad. I just have trouble giving up beans and some dairy. I have been trying to eat less cheese, but I think eating yogurt is good for you. I can't and won't give up my one cup of coffee, and I don't want to give up my occasional glass of wine. Besides wine and cheese are perfect together!

Here's how I've been doing: My dinner at The Beacon last Saturday was sorta my last supper! For five days, I have given up all grain. I have eaten no bread and no sweets. I've increased my meat intake (grass fed), which has taken some getting used to. I've eaten lots of eggs, green salads with chickpeas, olives, feta, and balsamic vinegar, fajitas without tortillas, lots of water, and much more fruit. I have needed to increase my fruit intake for a while. I have eaten protein with every meal and snack.

The verdict: I feel really good! I think it may have a lot to do with no grain and no gluten. I'm not as bloated, and my stomach feels better. I have lost 1 1/2 pounds, my clothes fit looser, I get up easier in the morning, and I am not yawning all day. Hopefully, I'll have thicker hair and beautiful nails soon!

I am still researching ways to ensure I have enough fiber and calcium, but all in all, I think this way of eating could work. I did forget to mention that I fully intend to cheat once a week on Sundays. I gotta have a little ice cream and some biscuits in my life!

Don't forget that diets vary with every body. I have learned that I need to figure out what my body needs, and I may need to switch it up and add some grains back into my diet. But if you are interested in seeing what works for your blood type or looking into The Paleo Diet, see if it could make you feel better!

Oh yeah, and if you feel like eating an egg, then eat one!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Fun Weekend!

I am now crashed out on the sofa after a very long but fun weekend traveling to South Carolina and Georgia to spend some time with Michael's family. We were blessed to be able to leave early on Friday to head east toward Atlanta before some major storms hit Birmingham. Most of Birmingham was spared, but nearby Tuscaloosa was damaged by heavy storms and tornadoes. We arrived at Michael's mom's in Spartanburg, SC, late on Friday and went to bed pretty soon after arriving.

On Saturday, we got up and drove to Simpsonville, SC, to visit Michael's cousin Elizabeth who just had her second baby. Her daughter Mary Hart was born on April 1. She is precious and so sweet! There are a lot of sweet babies who have been born lately! Her older brother Brayden is almost 5 years old, and while I held Mary Hart, Michael played outside with him.
I feel like I'm getting pretty good at this baby holding thing!

After we left Elizabeth and Jack's, we drove to Greenville, SC, to help Michael's other cousin John and his wife Cindy move into their new house. Well, I guess Michael helped them move, and I sorta sat there and watched! It only took about an hour to unload all of their things, and after they got all the boxes moved in, we headed to dinner.

Michael was dying to go back to Spartanburg and eat at The Beacon. It's a famous drive-in dive where you go up to the counter and tell an old man your order before he yells it out and sends you down the line. It's a grease pit, known for its plates "A-Plenty," but it's a landmark in Spartanburg. It was actually featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, which is one of our favorite shows. I am glad we went, but I had to do some serious detoxing today after eating there!

Just check out our plates - Burgers "A Plenty"

This morning, we rolled out of bed and headed to Young Harris, GA, to visit Michael's brother Sean. We ate lunch together and walked around Young Harris College where Sean works. It was such a beautiful day, and it was nice to break up the drive.

We finally got home around 7 pm tonight, and I have been enjoying some time in the den. You would think I would want to go outside and walk since I have been sitting all day! Oh well, sometimes it's nice to be a little lazy!!!

Friday, April 15, 2011


My last post was about my journey towards getting rid of some major junk in my life and refocusing on the the aspects of life that should matter. I have been expoloring my beliefs, my values, my relationships, and my time. More than anything though, I have been evaluating my fears. I hate to admit it, but so much of my life is motivated by fear. There I said it...that was scary!!! I am motivted in may ways by fear, and I hate it. I don't want to be this way, I promise! I've been drudging through my fears a lot lately, and I've even discovered more fears I didn't even know I had. When will I ever stop punishing myself?!! Anyway, those fears are serious and need a lot of love, attention, and privacy. However, I did think it would make me feel better to share with you some of the other fears that I have - at least to make light of the subject!

Here are five irrational perfectly normal fears I have:

1: SNAKES - My fear of snakes has always been and will always be at the top of my list! I spot a snake and BINGO! I lose my breath, I sweat, I panic and shake, and I beg Michael to let me ride on his back (this happened twice last summer) because I know that nasty snaky thing will strike me from 50 feet away! I am extremely grossed out by snakes, especially the white and yellow albino snakes at the zoo. I mean seriously!

2. BLOOD CLOTS - About two years ago, I developed a sincere fear of blood clots that resulted in a couple of doctor's visits and my very own lovely pair of support hose for diabetics that I wore quite often. So, I don't really wear the support hose much anymore, but I still sit at a desk a lot. At the first sign of leg pain, I panic that my leg is going to burst open!

3. RUNNING OUT OF GAS - Just today, I borrowed my friend Keri's car to pick up some lunch. Michael dropped me off at work today, so I didn't have my own ride. She was nice to let me borrow her car to pick up Subway, but as I drove away with no cell phone and suddenly realized she was on EMPTY, I seriously considered turning around and eating crackers for lunch. Maybe I'm more afraid of running out of gas with no cell phone, but it creates major anxiety to think about being stuck at a red light with a million cars behind me because I am out of gas! Do you know the kind of looks I would get!

4. DARK WATER - I think it is one of the eeriest feelings in the world to be in water when I can't see what is lurking down below. This isn't a fear I've had my whole life because I grew up on the lake, but I just can't hardly go in water anymore because I picture car sized catfish eating me or worse yet, JAWS! I don't know, it just creeps me out!

5. NO COVERS - I know I'm not the only one who gets creeped out when you are sleeping with no covers. I cannot sleep unless I'm covered up. End of story. We live in Alabama for heaven's sake, and it gets hot! It will be 80 degrees in our bedroom, and I will still have covers on me. It's a fear of feeling exposed I guess or maybe it's a comfort thing. I am just anxious if I'm not covered up!

Okay, so I've exposed some of my sillier fears, now if I could just get around to the others.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Life for me lately has been about refocusing my priorities. Lots of weeding has been going on in this little heart of mine! In so many areas of my life, I have pretty much had enough. I have wasted a lot of energy on things that do not matter. Too bad I didn't realize this much sooner! In wasting my precious time on the crap in my life, I have failed to appreciate what I am finally realizing actually matters! I am nowhere close to figuring out what my refocusing means and where I'll end up, but what I do know is that I want life to be simple.

A simple life guided by intention, consciousness, and self-awareness. A life where I'm guided by God and my heart rather than by the world around me.

I want to remove myself from the distractions and the influences that make me insecure, afraid, and anxious, and I want to embrace and appreciate the relationships, opportunities, and moments in life that create love, joy, peace, and hope. I know that so much of this is open-ended, and I have lists and lists of changes I want to make that are clouding my head right now-but just moving toward minimizing the crap and maximizing my joy is making me smile as I tell you about it!

I know I will share my progress when its time. For now, I want to share a great post from an inspiring blogger who gets it when it comes to fleshing out the unnecessaries in life. This post is written by a man for men to read, but it's so beautiful and so perfectly aligned with how I feel. As a woman, I enjoyed what he had to say.

Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to read his post. If you are a woman, change the genders around and replace men for women, husband for wife, and father for mother. I think it was written for us too!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Hairs on my Head

"And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows." Luke 12:7

Doesn't that just make you smile?

In my quiet time this morning, this verse spoke to me and calmed me in so many ways. God knows every part of me and loves every part of me. He knows what I am worried about, he knows what I'm going through, and he is right by my side loving me and seeing me through life's challenges. I struggle daily with fleeting moments of anxiety, worry, fear, insecurity, and doubt, but this verse, breathed by the word of God, tells me that I don't have a reason to be afraid.

Afterall, "Can all my worries add a single moment to my life?" Matthew 6:27

I am blessed beyond measure, and I feel ashamed sometimes to know the things I worry so much about. They are so trivial! So many people in this world have far more to fear than I do. But this world is difficult no matter who you are or what your circumstances may be. But I am learning by the grace of God that faith makes this world less scary! I pray that my faith will increase with every second, so I can rest assured in a God who knows the very number of hairs on my head!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

We're Going to Boston!

I forgot to tell everyone that we officially booked our 5th Year Anniversary trip to Boston last week! I can't wait! I am even happier because Michael is so excited! We are going fin May, and I hope it is going to look like this every day! Originally, my Christmas Post exclaimed that we were going to Boston and New York, but let's just say EXPENSIVE!!! We would love to do both, but time and money got in the way, and I think Boston is more our speed. So that's where we are going! I also have family in Boston who are going to hook us up while we are there, so it's perfect. Some of the things we are going to do include The Freedom Trail, a game at Fenway Park, snooping around Harvard, eating at a pub named "McGreeveys," and taking a day trip to Cape Cod. Michael even mentioned that he wanted to take me whale watching, which is something I wanted to do in Australia but we never did.
I think I am most excited about going here!

If any of you have visited Boston, please comment and tell me where to go, what to see, and especially where to eat!

Funny story...yesterday morning I woke up at my mom's house to the lovely headline about the Southwest Airlines flights being cancelled after a horrible weekend for the airline. You can read the story here, if you haven't heard it. Well, guess what airline we are flying? Southwest baby! It's kind of crazy because a year ago, I would have gone into panic mode when I heard this story, but I was pretty calm about it. Besides, I told myself that by the time we fly, all of the planes will be in tip top shape. Right? (Taylor, you know I want you to comment about this!) I guess it may be a blessing that they found the problems before we leave. I am very proud of myself, and I feel like I have come so far with my fear of flying. Still, any prayers about that flight are greatly appreciated!

Don't forget! If you've been to Boston, let me know where to go!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Trip to Arkansas

I traveled to Arkansas this weekend to spend some time with my girlfriends in Hot Springs to celebrate my friend Andrea's bachelorette party. I planned a few extra days in AR to spend with my family as well. I arrived Thursday afternoon, and my mom and I hopped in her car and headed to the mall to do what we do best! On Friday, we got up early and headed to the salon. My mom got her hair cut and highlighted, and I had my hair lightened for the second time since I went darker. It feels nice to be blonde again! Later on, we headed to the ball fields to watch my cousin's son play his first game of baseball this season. This was an experience! I was highly amused by the game because the boys were so fun to watch, but I could have killed some of the parents. It is a shame how some of the parents yell at their kids and get so serious about the game. I thought playing ball was supposed to be fun! After the game, my family and I went to my favorite place to eat when I come home. I love US Pizza, and I make sure I eat it every time I am in Arkansas. I've been eating there since I was a baby!
Me and the baseball star!

On Saturday, I headed to Hot Springs to celebrate my friend Andrea's bachelorette party. Andrea was my college roommate for three years. We pledged ASA together, and she was in our wedding five years ago. I am so glad I got to see her and all of our best friends this weekend, and I am so happy for her! We stayed in a beautiful condo on the lake, and we celebrated with a fun lingerie shower in the afternoon before heading to dinner on Saturday night.

Me and the beautiful bride at the shower!

It was so great to see so many of my friends this weekend. We don't get to see each other enough, but when we do, it's so much fun!

I haven't seen Britnie in three years! We also lived together for a while, and I was so happy she could come to the shower. I also got to see her son Dax who is such a little looker!

Dax is a man on the move, especially when there are so many pretty girls around! I barely got this picture with him! I wish you could see his beautiful eyes!

I love me some Nicole! :)

We all went out to eat on Saturday night before going out. I love this picture of all of us. I am very blessed with some amazing and beautiful friends!

On Sunday, I hung out with my mom and we watched a million episodes of Real Housewives! I was tired, and I knew I had to get up early this morning to drive home, so we ordered in and vegged out on the couch. I love just chilling out with my mom!

I had an awesome weekend, but I am glad to be home with my favorite person in the world! Michael made me a delicious welcome home dinner, and we took Scarlett on a walk. It's good to be home!