What a Week!

Whoo-wee! What a week! Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, VALENTINE'S! Not to mention a million deadlines that came up this week, too! It was fast it was furious and it was ca-razy, let me tell you!

I'm out for a judging gig--ready to see some fun dancing this Saturday and hang out with one of my favorite competitions! Hope you all have a fabulous weekend and I'll see you round next week! 

IMG_8022.JPG
    It’s an early start—definitely going to tank up on some coffee!
          Happy Weekend, Y’all! 
Comment

What's In Blue Blazes: Shrimp Etouffee

My sister calls me up a couple weeks ago and says, "I've got it! I know a series you can start on your blog!" I'm thinking, okay, this could be interesting! Hit me!

She then tells me she's named her new Le Creuset Blue Blazes and she thinks it would be hilarious to post about all the dishes I make in my own blue Le Creuset calling it "What In Blue Blazes!" We laugh about it for a bit, but then she stops laughing and says, "No, I'm serious. It would be awesome."  A few days later she starts a shared photo album with the same title and uploads all her blue dishes so far. I mean, this lady really IS serious. 

So Big Sister, this is for you! The very first installment of...

What's In Blue Blazes! 

It's Mardi Gras tomorrow! Heeeyyy! Time to get our Cajun on and ladies and (maybe a few) gentlemen, I am proud to say I have real Cajun roots I'm tapping into for the day! My mom's side of the family is from South Louisiana and we can go generations back all the way to Acadia. I don't think we can get any more authentic than that, folks. 

So, in the spirit of this fat Tuesday celebration, I've got a simple shrimp etouffee to share! Mom passed this one to me, but the recipe was submitted to our '93 family reunion cookbook by her cousin, Lisa. Just to give you a little background, Lisa was a neat lady. She was a teacher--y'all, I come from a family of teachers so when I say it's in my blood, it really is. She taught English and art and of course, was an artist herself. She raised chickens and loved bird watching, but most of all she loved her family. 

Sadly Lisa passed away almost two years ago and while I did not get to know Lisa very well, I do remember her driving her parents, my great Aunt Lou and Uncle Jeff to my wedding. I remember seeing her cut up the floor and laugh and have a wonderful time with the family. Those memories mean so much. 

What's wonderful about food and recipes is that they can call to mind the people we knew, people we love, people we miss. So while I might not have many memories with Lisa, I have this recipe and it always calls her to mind. To me, it will always be Cousin Lisa's Shrimp Etouffee. Without further ado, here it is: 


Cousin Lisa's Shrimp Etouffee

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 can of Rotel 
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Parsley (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soupt
  • Peeled, deveined shrimp

Sauté butter, onions, bell pepper, celery, Rotel and garlic. Let it all cook slowly for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add lemon juice and parsley then stir and add the can of mushroom soup--mix all well! Add shrimp and cook until pink, just about 15 minutes. Or you can use cooked shrimp, just add and heat through at the end. 

Makes 6-8 servings. 


I serve it up over  rice and mais, yeah, you've got yourself a good meal! It's really easy, incredibly delicious and sure to be a hit with a crowd! 

Any Cajun food lovers out there?What are you favorite Mardi Gras meals?

Comment

40 Days of Swapping Out

Hey-o! If you missed the first part to this two part post, check it out over here. Otherwise, let's dive in! 

We know that what we do on a day to day basis has some effect on something somewhere. Whether that effect happens immediately in front of us or somewhere else in this world beyond what we can see. What I want to do is make a change here in my day to day that I think would help something I believe needs attention.

For a couple years I've been making tiny adjustments to be more eco-friendly (If you just eye-rolled, you may want to go ahead and click off now.). When I first started listening to podcasts a few years ago, I found myself tuning in to so many shows about the environment, recycling, nature and it's needs, chemicals in products, and bees. I heard so much about the bees. We've got to save those little guys! 

Little by little I started adjusting things in my day to day. I started reading shampoo and face wash ingredients. I found myself being more adamant about recycling in my house (I'm looking at you, Pyro Man, and your Dr. Pepper cans). Household cleaners started making me think a little more before I sprayed. And by the way, what does happen to the plastic makeup wipe bag when you throw them away? I'm pretty sure they don't disintegrate... 

It's not that I didn't grow up with Captain Planet or wasn't aware that littering was bad or knew that we needed to take care of planet, etc. I know all that! It's just that I didn't realize how much on an every day basis I was throwing away cardboard and plastic, adding up to landfills and oh yeah, probably impacting those buzzin' little bees in some way. What about what I'm doing to myself? Does my makeup really have that many chemicals in it? What exactly is happening when I heat my meal in a plastic container? Those are what chemicals used in this food I'm ingesting? 

And it bothers me. It really does. There's a lot of things I can do without getting too crunchy. I'm still shaving my armpits and wearing deodorant, y'all. I don't have to buy chickens, build a compost and starting living by candlelight to make a difference either. So here's idea:

For the next 40 days I'm going to try to swap out my daily use of plastic products. 

I'm making a few small changes around here to start and it's going to get uncomfortable in some ways and it's going to take some work. What I'm hoping is that what I do is make some habits at home that help in some small way to keep our world from being trashed. There are a few small things you can try if you want to tackle this challenge, too! 

1. Cut back on plasticware. That means no plastic utensils, no plastic plates and no straws. Something about watching that straw pulled out the nostrils of the sea turtle reeeaaallllyyyy disturbed me. 

I've ordered some stainless steel straws to use at the house and I can throw one in my purse for eat out meals if I need. I also picked up some utensils from Target to keep in my office for my lunches and I've already got plates up there, too. Problems solved on that front! 

2. No more plastic bags. On a scale of 1-10, this is probably a 5. I already use green bags for groceries and thanks to my friend, Meredith, I have these awesome produce bags, too. What I'm talking about is those small plastic baggies for lunches and chips. Ziploc and Glad--I love you, but it's time for a break. 

I like these reusable bags for sandwiches and chips for lunches. I'm going to try these instead, less expensive. We thaw out chicken in bags so that's going to be a habit to kick. We have plenty of tupperware and lunch boxes so we're not wasting there, but my tupperware is getting old and cracking. I'm wanting to replace with glassware like this at some point. If you really want to go green, I think the Bee's Wrap Paper is really cool but good grief, that stuff is pricey and not necessary right now! 

3. Grow a Garden. This one isn't really that difficult, just takes some time. We like having a garden in the backyard and last year we planted sunflowers and zinnias which brought about a ton of bees. I really liked that and I felt like it served two purposes: helped those buzzing bees  come around more which in turn helped our garden grow more and BONUS: it added a lot of beauty to the backyard! 

This year we want to start planting our flowers early by setting up a grow station in the house and I've got a lovely mix of flowers I'm planning to plant.  I'm hoping this will make it easier to plant then when the weather warms up and help bring about more bees this summer. 


Think about what you use on a daily basis and how much those plastics pile up for just one person. I tracked myself one day to see exactly how many products I touch that end up being thrown--Keurig pods, toilet paper rolls, sugar packets, wrapping around bottle tops, and more. There's a lot. What happens to all that when we dump it in the trash? How can we clean up after ourselves a little better? 

I think these beginning small changes will challenge me to be more conscious and that's ultimately what I want: to make conscious choices with what I buy and what I use and in how those decisions affect the world. What can I do to leave my place better than how I found it?

If you're wondering if these three points are all I'm doing, the answer is no. There's a lot to be done outside of the home, but this is just a starting point. Hopefully all of this will help me be more mindful in other ways, too, and with research, learn a bit more about how to be more environmentally conscious.

What do you say? Want to try and go plastic free with me? Got any advice to help me out? Go ahead and share it in the comments below! 

If I'm totally candid, I have to say this entire idea has sprouted from seeds planted by my friends, Meredith and Kathleen. You sisters certainly lead by example and I'll be picking your brain about so much more during this journey! 

Comment

40 Days of Something Bigger

It's almost time for Lent! Two weeks away to be exact. I think most of us are pretty familiar with this season, but I wrote a little something about it here last year. Each year it's a time for me to reconnect spiritually and grow deeper in something bigger than me. We all find that in different ways and we honor that in different ways, too. 

I like that statement, "something bigger than me." A lot of times I think about how big this world actually is and I often ask how my little self on this planet really can effect everything else. How can one thing I do help or hinder this world? 

I know, a bit heavy for a Saturday morning, but it's something I find crosses my mind and can completely fascinate me and totally overwhelm me in a manner of seconds. As I start to entertain that thought I usually shut it down. It's too much. It's too big. I've got to focus on my little corner of the world. 

With Lent around the corner, it's a time I think I really should entertain those thoughts now. What if I made some changes sacrificing ease and comfort to make an impact somewhere else? 

40 days is all of I've got so trust me when I say I'm not planning on being Wonder Woman and saving the world in that time. What I am saying is I want to make a personal change that will impact something I know I want to help shift in this world. 

DSC_1660.jpg

Normally I find the lenten season to be very personal and I usually keep my focus to myself. This one, however, I think is important to share. It may be something you could try or at the very least make you think a little bit. 

Stop by the blog tomorrow and find out what exactly is I'm doing to get me started on this season! 

Comment

Happy Birthday, Big Sister!

She's a lawyer by trade, but I still say she could have made it as a Mupeteer. She likes a good steak and good red wine, but I happen to know an Arnold Palmer and a Chik-fil-a sandwich will also do the trick. She's the one I know can offer unbiased opinion and see all sides of a story. She's also the one who will fiercely defend her baby sister at a moments notice. 

That's right folks, it's my Big Sister's birthday! So let's wish her a good one! 

Happy Birthday to my Big Sister who, like all good big sisters, is always there.

I love you, Sarah! 

Comment

Excuse Me

This Saturday I had a lovely brunch with a former student to catch up on life after graduation. I truly enjoy getting to hear from students on how things are going, where they are and so forth. I'm that teacher, completely proud of each and every one of them and all they're doing out there! 

Well, after a lovely meal of deliciously fluffy pancakes and bacon, we were sitting and visiting some, talking about this and that and just enjoying our coffee and our time. We happened to be seated at a community table where a larger party had joined towards the end of our meal and an interesting thing happened. A red headed young woman half way down called out to us see if we could move down so her guests could enjoy their meal. And she said that, "so our guests..." While I write this, I can say I'm making it sound more polite than it came across. 

This moment struck me in two ways: 

1. Why didn't the woman sitting right next to us just ask if she could have a little elbow room?

and 

2. Why did this woman half way down the table feel the need to ask in such a manner as if we were being incredibly inconsiderate of her friend on purpose? 

So I smiled my big Texas sized smiled saying, "Of course, no problem" and then scooted down enough for her friend before promptly returning to our topic of conversation, calmly and cooly finishing our coffee. "That's our cue, I think, " I said to my brunch buddy. I wasn't going to rush but I wasn't going to be rude as we took a moment to grab our purses and jackets. We headed towards the door only to be met with giddy applause from some of the party. 

If your mouth is on the floor, too, I'm not surprised. Mine was. If I'm being truthful here, I had half a mind to turn around, sit down, and have that fourth cup of coffee and keep the conversation going just to make her red hair turn redder, but that would have only escalated the situation and I thought better of it. Plus, Princess Kate would have disapproved, I'm sure. 

You just have to laugh and shake your head, but honestly I couldn't shake how much it bothered me. I've had fellow females say things before about how girls are just mean or witchy but those statements about women bug me because I surround myself with fantastic women all the time.

These are women who are strong and bright and kind. I admire how they handle situations around them without getting ruffled and how a cool comment can be both polite and firm at the same time. I've been shown you do not have to shout to get your point heard and tone can change how a situation around in an instance. There's no need to be rude to get your way and just because you use "sir," or "ma'am" or "thank you" doesn't mean you're a push-over.   

When I hear females talk about other females as just mean or backstabbing or witchy, I'm always surprised. First of all because this is coming from another female. Secondly, I do not consider myself in that category at all so why are you describing ALL females as being this way? Well...if I had stubbornly stayed at the table just to make that woman mad, I suppose that's actually playing into this idea...but I didn't. So, I still get to hang on to my halo. This short exchange with this woman just made me assume she was one of those mean, rude girls I hear others generally say about women. 

Isn't that terrible? I played exactly into a generalization that I despise myself. Shouldn't we women be lifting one another up instead of assuming we're catty or mean because we're female? Shouldn't you be able to see another lady and say, "hey, we're in the same boat, let's be kind to one another?" And in case you're wondering, yes, yes we should. 

I've run through the scenarios--maybe they reserved the table and we didn't know it. Maybe they hoped we were going soon and wanted to hurry our exit so they could spread out. Maybe, maybe, maybe. In the long run it doesn't matter and my chances of seeing the same party of women in their all matching t-shirts is slim. I hope.

What it really comes down to is perhaps we need to stop assuming all women are bratty and start approaching situations openly without preconceived notions. I think we'd be less defensive and perhaps interact with less irritation and with a little more compassion and empathy. I swear I'm not going to break out in "Kumbaya" any time soon, but I am serious. There's too much assumption in this world that every encounter is going to be a knock-out-drag-out fight or that you have to approach people with hand-on-the-hip aggressive approach to get your way. I'll fess up and say I've done that before, gone in ready with guns a blazing and then been stunned to find the response and interaction was kinder or easier than I anticipated. Talk about feel sheepish. 

I think I handled the brunch table situation as best as possible without compromising my values as a woman, my time with my friend or my cup of coffee. Gal needs her morning caffeine kick. But folks, if you're going to ask someone you don't know from Adam to do something for you, whether that's scoot down or hold the door or whatever, how about you try saying it without a trace of rudeness or assumption and see what kind of human exchange you have today. It might just open up something, dare I say, pleasant with your fellow (wo)man and prove to the world that women are not the witchy creatures after all. And for Pete's sake, do not applaud when someone leaves your table. Good grief. 

But do go ahead and have that fourth cup of coffee. You only live once--might as well be super caffeinated while you do! 

Comment

Friday Five: Saving Graces

It's been a busy week--not that every week isn't busy in it's own way, this one was just really, really full. There was an influx of grading to do and a new piece to start and set. I'm a big fan of getting the work done by the end of the work week--I really like to have my weekends to do what I need for me. Or at the very least, I try really hard to make that happen! 

So I'm rounding up the five things that have totally gotten me through a full week like this one! 

Friday Five

5 Saving Graces

  1. Meal Prepping - Yeah, yeah, yeah. You hear about meal prepping all the time, but it seriously helps. I made a meal Sunday that I turned into leftover lunches this week. (I took a stab at Laura Lea Balanced  BBQ Chicken Quinoa Casserole from her book--not too bad!). I also made sure that dinners were thought out, made Monday night and lasted on our busier evenings of the week. 

  2. PB&Jelly Grain Free Banana Bread - OK. I've been watching Laura Lea's stories on her PB&J banana bread that she was testing and finally, FINALLY she posted the recipe last week here and I tried it out on Sunday! So. Dang. Good. I'm all for it. In fact, I will probably make this again and again. I have a half piece for breakfast (it's really filling) and the second half in the afternoon. This loaf has totally sweetened this week. 

  3. Water, water, water. And Tea - I've been downing the water like there's no tomorrow! First thing in the morning, I drink a glass--yep. That's before coffee. When I think I'm hungry around 3:00 pm, I tank up on water first before I eat anything or have that extra cup of coffee. I can feel I'm dried out and with everyone getting sick, I'm all about flushing whatever I can out and hydrate my body as much as possible. At the end of the evening I make myself a cup of tea, nothing too sweet, but something to help me relax. 

  4. Consistent Workouts - I'm on week three of a six week challenge and I'm feeling really good! I've been focusing on better choices regarding food and that has helped immensely (Well, with the exception of some indulgences this weekend when the Rents came up--yay for weekend fun!).  More than that though, the workouts are really helping out. I can feel my body getting stronger and each time I'm able to push a little more, go further. Plus, these workouts are a break a great break from work and a good way to work through the stress!

  5. Doing What I Love - OK, so what's ultimately making this week busy is actually what I really enjoy doing. I've got a really layered piece that I'm working on now and I'm pumped! Sure, it took me like four hours to choreograph 37 seconds and I'm totally sure things will change once its on its feet, but I still loved it. Creating something from nothing, building a story, using every part of the music--I love that process! 

Taking care of myself, preparing for the busy week, allowing room for healthy treats and enjoying what's making me busy is what's getting me through! 

If you need me, I'll be hanging out here this friday night!

If you need me, I'll be hanging out here this friday night!

What keeps you going on those super busy weeks? 

Comment

Spring, Is that You?

This weekend was such a spring tease. I know it's only January and we've got a couple more months of winter left, but I'm ready, y'all. I'm ready for the spring flowers, the warmer weather, and the change in wardrobe! 

 I can tell from all the email ads coming through that retailers are getting ready to roll out the spring fashion here pretty quick. This weekend I went shopping and it seemed like almost everyone had some super sale going on, cleaning out the winter gear and pushing out front the beginnings of the spring lines. This clearly did not help my small spike of spring fever. 

In fact, I've already started perusing my favorite sites for spring inspiration. Like this little get up: 

Anthropologie, I think you're swell! 

Anthropologie, I think you're swell! 

Love the causal look with hose amazing slip-on's and earrings! And then see this?

You did it again, Anthro! 

You did it again, Anthro

It's comfy and it's the perfect shade of gold. I feel like this should somehow find it's way into my closet. And then there's this: 

Loft, you are definitely a favorite. I love your clothes and I freaking love your sales! 

Loft, you are definitely a favorite. I love your clothes and I freaking love your sales! 

I love this floaty top and how fun and flirty it is. Can I pair a blazer over it? Oh yeah. Can I wear it with jeans OR a skirt? You bet your sweet patootie you can! Will it last me spring, summer, and fall? I'm thinking so! 

*Sigh* And it's only January which means my spring fever will probably be a total outbreak come April! 

What spring styles are you looking forward to?

 

 

 

Comment

PB and Hey!

Well, I'm trying really hard to reduce my sugar intake these days. Note I didn't say quit sugar, I'm only human, folks. I'm trying really, really hard to make those treats take place only when I really, really want one. And when I have one, they have to be three things: really enjoyable, delicious, and something I can savor and enjoy. 

Last week I had a hankering for something sweet . Nothing in particular, just something tasty, soft, warm, like a cookie or a cupcake. Problem is if you whip up a batch you have leftovers...I know it's probably hard to see this issue there, but trust me, having temptation in this is house right now is not helpful to all the work I'm doing right now! 

So I opted for a quick easy mug cake. There's a million recipes out there and some are super easy and some a little more complicated. Lucky for me, I found a PEANUT BUTTER one that I kept tweaking to make perfect for moi! 

It's the same type of recipe I do for my peanut butter cookies except it's just one mug of peanut butter goodness. Can't beat that, really. So without further ado, I give you...

Cake Mug (4 of 6).jpg

The Peanut Butter & Hey Mug Cake

For every peanut butter loving person whose needing a sugar fix without any lingering tempting morsels in the kitchen.  

3 tbls of peanut butter

1 egg

1-1/2 tbls of sugar

1/4 tsp of vanilla

1 tbls of chocolate chips

In a tall mug, mix the PB, egg, sugar and vanilla really well. Just beat it...(beat it)...beat it....(beat it)...

Toss the chips in and mix up. You want to make sure that egg gets beat in there really well so you don't have scrambled egg hidden in your cake. I know, that'd would ruin the whole experience right there. 

Throw a few chocolate chips on top and the option of a little sugar sprinkle, too. Pop into the microwave for 1:00 - 1:15. You want to make sure the bottom part is done so check with fork down the side or a long cake tester. Always better to check at the minute mark first! 

Cake Mug (2 of 6).jpg

If you ask me, I think it's delicious. The cake isn't overly sugary but it still hits the spot for something with some sweet. I also feel like it's made for peanut butter lovers like myself. Like I mentioned before, this recipe is so close to the recipe I use for PB cookies which is more than likely why I love it. It's just the cookie in cake form. What's not to love?

Easy recipe + peanut butter + cake result = Happy Life

Cake Mug (5 of 6).jpg

Got a favorite quick sugar fix? What's your go-to dessert? 

Comment

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy birthday to raddest Dad around! 

1930160_509697540563_166_n.jpg

He's bad to the bone, y'all. Just look at that hair. Don't think you get any cooler than that! 

Happy birthday, Dad! I hope you have a good one! 

Comment