Saturday, August 31, 2013

Game Day

The day that many of us have anxiously awaited is finally here... It's Game Day, y'all! I'm not even kidding. I drove by a store in June that had a countdown in the window saying "57 days til Football Time in Tennessee!" We get excited about our Vols. Not to mention that we have a new coach, and everyone is excited to see what he will do with our team this year. We've been through some rough patches with our coaches in the past 5-6 years, so I think most of the fan base is in wait-and-see mode. But it's a new day, a new season, and we have faith again!

So what does that mean? It means I'm wearing orange and making chili!

In case you can't tell, I make my chili with a lot of stuff in it. Vegetables, meat, beans... It's a hearty meal. Here's the recipe.

Game Day Chili
Serves 6 to 8 people

1 C chopped onion
1½ C chopped bell peppers; any color or a combination
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes (I use no salt added)
1 C mild salsa
1½ C chicken or beef broth
1½ T chili powder
1 T brown mustard
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t liquid smoke
2 t cumin
¼ t black pepper
1 15oz can dark red kidney beans
1 15oz can red bean

Spray a large saucepan with nonstick spray. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except the beans. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans and cook another 5 minutes.

Serve with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

I know, it is quite a few ingredients, but it is worth it! I made mine early, then transferred to a preheated* slow cooker to keep warm until I'm ready to eat. Which will probably be around kickoff.:-)

*Many moon ago I read that you shouldn't put hot food in a cold/room temp slow cooker because it can cause cracking in the insert. That makes total sense to me! They suggested putting 2" of water in the slow cooker before turning it on to help it heat evenly. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Radio silence

I want to apologize for the lack of consistent content lately. I'm trying to do better, but most times when I sit down to blog, everything I want to say is something I'm too smart to put in print. :-)

I'm working on a schedule to make my posts more regular. Bear with me, k?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fun with Shrinky Dinks

I told you I was going to get craft-tastic for Amy's birthday! This one involved an old school with some Shrinky Dinks. I had this idea about 30 hours before I was supposed to meet her for her birthday dinner... What is it about last minute inspiration? Oh well.

First a back story. Amy's stepson once said that she and I were Mental Twins. I'm not entire positive what he meant by that, but we decided it was true. More often than not we will be thinking the same thing or similar things, even if we're not in the same place and haven't spoken in a few days. For example: Several weeks ago I was shopping with Greg and saw this:
Discovered at JCP
Since Amy has a little mini-obsession going with octopuses lately, I took a pic meaning to text it to her. For some reason I didn't, but I saw it in my phone the other morning and decided to send it to her... at the same time that she was hanging up a giant poster she painted of an octopus. Mental twin powers activate!

Which is what led to this project.

This was a total Pin-spired project. I got the original idea from something I pinned a few months ago. I found the background here and played around with it in Paint until I liked the color combo. Then the font was found here (I used Badaboom). I messed around in PowerPoint until I got that looking right. Then it was time to print...
A) You need to print it kind of faded so it will look right after it bakes. B) I made the colors inverted because I was going to make one for her and one for me, but then I couldn't decide which to give her and which to keep, so I just to put both on each of them. If I can't make a decision, I don't. :-)

Next I trimmed them and put the hole at the top. FYI, a single hole-punch is the perfect size for a jump ring. Then I baked them in my pre-heated toaster (yes, I felt like I was using an Easy Bake Oven). When they were done I let them cool and painted them with diamond glaze to protect it. I had read that the colors can bleed if they get wet, plus it added a little extra shine. Once the glaze was dry to the touch I added the jump ring.

It was fun. Other people may see something similar for Chrismas. :-)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Let your light shine

I don't know if y'all realize exactly how much I love birthdays. While I like to have fun on my own birthday, I love celebrating my friends and family even more. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned how much I love the feeling of finding a gift that screams someone's name at me. Sometimes it's a ready made gift on the shelf; sometimes it's just a piece of a gift and I have to figure out where to go with it. That's what happened with Amy's gift this year.

I was at Hobby Lobby looking at something she had pointed out when we were there before, but I couldn't decide what to do with it. I was staring off into space, trying to figure out what to do with the transfers when I saw this:

Black? Silver? Chandelier? Amy written all over it!  And within 30 seconds I decided what to do with it. Enter gray damask scrapbook paper and black glitter tape from Hobby Lobby, a silver picture frame from Dollar Tree, and the computer/printer.

The hardest part was deciding which Bible verse to use. I found a font on Pinterest. Can I just take minute to say how much I love browsing fonts on there? So many options! I found the font in this post, and I chose Grand Hotel. Making that choice made the whole thing have a vintage luxury hotel feel with the wallpaper and chandelier... maybe it's just me. Anyway! I set the paper margins to 5" x 7" and put my text towards the bottom of the page. I printed it and cut it to fit in the frame (it was an 8.5" x 11" sheet of scrapbook paper), then I glued on the chandelier. While it dried, I covered the matte board (originally an off-white) with the black glitter tape. Then I put it all together. Ta-da!
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let you light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16, NIV

I'm really impressed with the way it turned out! I think the black glitter really helps set it off. The frame I found is more like a shadow box; there is a good 1/4-inch of space between the glass and the paper. That isn't why I got it (I got it because it was the only frame I saw at Dollar Tree that wasn't some shade of brown), but it is an added bonus since the chandelier is not totally flat.

It's classy! And totally Amy. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Bravest

First and foremost, I need to wish a slightly belated birthday to my Best Friend, Mental Twin, Partner in Crime, and all around Long-Lost Sister, Amy!
Blurry and off-center because we were shaking from
freezing at the UT/KY game last year
I have now officially wished her a happy trip around the sun on Facebook (twice!), Twitter, text, and now via blog. That should be enough for now. She was lucky enough to spend her actual birthday with her mom in Destin, FL. I'm only slightly jealous... Mostly I'm happy she got to take a (much needed) vacation! We're going to celebrate her birthday at her happy place, Lakeside Tavern, on Sunday, which gives me a few more days to get her gift put together. Yes, I know, it's already belated. What's my problem? Shh. But seriously, I'm pretty pleased with the way it's turning out. I just need to finish up. Hopefully I'll have time to do that tomorrow.

This past weekend was pretty great. Greg's friend Moose was given 4 tickets to the Braves (or Bravest according to my auto-correct) game for Friday Night, and he asked Greg and I to join him. Moose and I had recently been talking about the fact that I had never been to a Braves game, so when he asked I jumped at the chance. I don't know if I was more excited about the game or taking a 1/2-day off from work, but I was pumped!

I knew it was going to be a good trip when I found this at a gas station in Georgia:
Amy and I have a long running joke about these being the "holy grail of cola beverages" because we can never find it individually sold in a 20oz bottle around here. I saw it and knew I was in for a good time!

We got to Turner Field about an hour and a half before the game started. Moose and his dad decided to go autograph hunting, so Greg and I meandered around the lower level of the stadium for a while.

There was a huge mural with all of the team name changes and moves over the years (apparently the Atlanta Braves started as the Boston Redstockings), and this one cracked me up. I mean I know Boston is famous for their beans, but still... Oh well.

I also made G take a pic with me in front of the bullpen. Really, I was looking to update my fb profile pic and I don't like taking selfies alone... Is is still a selfie if someone else is in the picture?

Finally we made it up to our seats. And our seats were in the Coca-Cola Suite!
Free Coke products? Suite!
Not a bad view, either!
Moose said he didn't know if it was fair that I got to sit in a suite at my first Braves game. I told him it might be the only one I ever went to, so I might as well go big!
I made G take another one so I could choose. :-)
 We had a great time chatting with our neighboring suites and watching the game. And it ended wonderfully:
Should be 2-3, but the winner is correct. 
 We got "free baseball" (Moose's term for extra innings) and the Braves won! I might have been sad if they lost at my first game... After that there was a post-game performance by Montell Jordan.
Apparently he is now a Pastor at an Atlanta church and sang a few praise and worship songs while they were setting up for the fireworks. It was great and I loved the bonus worship time I got that day. After the game and fireworks we came back home to Knoxville. I finally crawled into bed at a little after 4am. It was totally worth it.

On Saturday, Greg and I had a nice day looking for adhesive for his prosthetic ears running errands. He decided to by William Shakespeare's Star Wars while we were at Target, and he ended up reading some of it to me once we got back to his house.
I love a strange man...
I'm not a huge Star Wars fan, but I would be interested in seeing this performed.

Anyway, I think this post in bordering epic status, so I will rest my weary hands. I hope you're having a good week! Be blessed!

Friday, August 9, 2013

So much information

Wow. All I can say is that the WCA Global Leadership Summit was amazing. My head is still swimming from all of the things that I learned (and some I knew but re-learned). I need to go back over my notes and type up a summary. But for now, I'm going to go to bed and let all of this glorious information settle into the nooks and crannies of my mind. Good night!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Random truth about myself

I discovered something quite interesting about myself today. It's probably something that Amy or Greg could have told you months years ago, but I just realized it today. You want to know what it is? Ok, here goes. I have serious trouble buying stuff for myself, especially more costly items that I actually need. Additionally, I will spend my last dollar buying a gift for you before I get something for myself. I know that sounds silly, but you should know by now that I am silly. Tada!

You're probably wondering how I figured out this little tidbit today. Well, I'll tell you. I was in need of 2 things when today started. Firstly, I needed a new backpack. The bag I was using to schlep my books and what have you to work or church was falling apart. It was the back pack I took to NYC in 2010, and while I love the memories we have together it is starting to fall apart. I also needed a new sports bra. I have a rather large chest and I am on a mission to find a sports bra that is secure, supportive, and doesn't require me to layer them.

I went to Walmart for the backpack first. I had already seen one like I wanted, I just need to go back and make sure it would fit my needs. As I walked through the doors of Walmart, this is the first thing I see:
It screams G
I mean it was practically begging to go live with Greg. I saw it and decided he needed it to take stuff to Dragon*Con at the end of the month. I don't know what he will put in it, but that's not really my problem because it OBVIOUSLY needs to go home to G! Plus it was on sale for only $9. How could I resist? So I picked it up and went off in search of the bag I actually went to buy. I finally found it, not in a logical place to my mind, but I was in Walmart.... I digress. I find the bag I want in a color I like and it looks like it will serve my needs, but it plus Greg's bag are more than I intended to spend. So which did I debate not getting? My bag of course! In ended up getting both of them, but I had to talk myself into it the whole way up to the register. 

I met up with Greg for dinner and gave him his gifts (I may or may not have also picked up a few of his favorite drinks and put them in the bag), then he and I went to Dick's Sporting Goods so I could look at sports bras. My first mistake was starting there. Somehow I always forget how expensive it is. I couldn't find anything to serve my purposes for less than $50, and Greg could not convince me to spend that kind of money on myself. Even though it really was not a bad price for the garment, and I really do need one. But nope, didn't get one. 

I love to invest in others, but I don't spend a lot of time or money on myself if I don't have to. Which is why I usually end up buying more for Greg, Mom, and Tony than I do for myself on tax free weekends. I have a problem. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The queen emerges

By that I mean the queen of procrastination. Tomorrow is Day 1 of the Summit and I'm not exactly ready. Good thing I do well when I wing it! Really I am ready, I just wanted to get a new backpack to throw all my stuff in, but I waited til today and I couldn't find one I liked. Land on my part. It will be fine though.

As you can see below, I also got a promotion at church. Our youth pastor is trying to get me to not trust him behind the counter, so he changed my name. I told him if I'm going to be Queen Elizabeth, then they need to address me as "your majesty."  I'm sure I'll be back to Jen next week.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Yesterday ended up being a pretty good day. Considering it was a Monday, and those are notoriously ridiculous anymore, I didn't have high hopes, but it was fine. Work was actually pretty decent, especially for a Monday. I go in 1.5 hours early on Monday to help get caught up on paperwork from over the weekend, and usually it's a race to get everything done on time. I was able to get all of my "bonus" tasks done well before my scheduled shift was supposed to start. Yay!

After work I finally got to hang out with that boyfriend of mine. We went to dinner at Abuelo's, which is definitely one of my favorite restaurants. [side note: Abuelo's is where my bff Amy said we were going for my birthday dinner when she was actually helping to plan my surprise party. Sneaky sneaky.] And miracle of miracles, neither of us was on our phone the majority of the time. I won't lie, I'm just as bad as he is so I can only get so mad. After dinner we wandered over to Target because he needed to return something he bought over the weekend. He ended up buying a new pair of sunglasses, and I managed to walk out empty handed. It was difficult.

Then we spent the rest of the evening watching TV. We started off watching Return of Jaws on Discovery (Shark Week!), which was pretty interesting. They managed to find a way to track a shark with an underwater video camera. Greg and I both agreed that we're not going swimming at the beach in Massachusetts. After that we watched a show called Siberia. I had never even heard of it before, but it was kind of interesting. It's a completely scripted series about a fictional reality show where the contestants are sent to a remote Siberian territory and told to survive the winter. But since it's a "reality" show, things start to go wrong. It's crazy, but I liked it.

Today was not as awesome. I woke up feeling like I couldn't breathe well. My chest was really tight and I kept coughing. I've also felt run down all day. None of this was made better by the fact that my boss's boss was at our club all day today. I like her just fine, but she still puts me on edge simply because of her position.

The bright side to my day came when Greg sent me a text to look at this video on YouTube.

That seriously made me laugh so hard. I love that they can be goofy and laugh at themselves. Sorry if it's stuck in your head now.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Tax-free, not hassle-free

Today was another action packed day! We had to be at the church at 8:30 for Day 2 of our Leaders' Gathering. I must say, I learned quite a lot and really felt God stretching me in new ways for my walk with Him. Once I make sense of my notes, I'll have to do a recap.

After that, I met Amy for lunch at Panera before heading out for our tax free shopping. We only ended up going to Old Navy and Walmart, but I ended up with 5 new shirts and a pair of jeans for less than $85. My favorite item I picked up was a plaid shirt from Old Navy.
It's so fun and bright. I love it. Every thing else I got was pretty plain in comparison, but that's ok. It's my statement piece, haha. The trip wasn't without its craziness, though. There were long checkout lines at Old Navy, and kids going crazy everywhere. I may or may not have tweeted that shopping on a sales weekend was better than birth control. But I tried to be patient with everyone, especially they poor workers. I knew they were having a way longer day than I was.

After I got home from shopping, I did a quick change (into that shirt of course), and went with Greg to go see his mom in the hospital before heading out to meet some of his college friends for dinner. She's doing better, and hopefully she will be released from the hospital tomorrow or Monday. She's a tough lady, but she's getting frustrated that she can't get her mouth to cooperate with her brain. All we can do is pray for it to come back. And I know she's tired of being cooped up in that room all the time. It probably doesn't help that she has constantly had visitors since she was admitted to the ER on Tuesday. One of her kids has been with her almost 24/7 since she was admitted, and she looked relieved that Greg and I had to leave 45-60 minutes before his brother was supposed to arrive tonight.

We went dinner at Calhoun's on the River, which was nice. One of Greg's friends from college was in town from Texas this weekend and it happened to be her birthday, so she called some people together to go out to dinner. The only person I knew besides Greg was Moose, but I still had a good time.

But now it's time for me to log off and get ready for bed. I'm hoping tomorrow will be a peaceful day involving me copying recipes into computer files. Yay for projects!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Action-Packed Friday

Whoo! Today started early and is running late. My alarm went off at 4:45, so I could wake up and get ready to go shopping with Mom and Tony. Why 4:45? Because it was the first day of tax free weekend, and we wanted to beat the rush at the store. Plus, I has aspirations of going in to work early today (which I did, more in a minute), so the sooner started, the sooner finished. We got to the store at about 6, and Tony managed to find 3 pairs of shorts that he will actually wear. I swear, getting that kid out of basketball shorts is like pulling teeth! Oh well. All I ended up getting today was a notebook for the Summit next week and a desk organizer for work. I'm hoping to be able to go shopping with Amy either tomorrow or Sunday, though. I hope so at least, I am in need of clothes!

I managed to get to work at 9:30 this morning, and promptly set about organizing our front stock closet. It's where we keep our drinks and bars that aren't on display and our promo items. We just got some new bracelets and towels a few weeks ago, then got new t-shirts yesterday for our newest membership deal. Needless to say, things had gotten a little disorganized. We had a delivery scheduled for today, so I wanted to get things organized before I had to put even more stuff in there. I finished just in time to start my shift at 11.

My shift went pretty well, just packed. Shannon had a meeting at the corporate office this morning and  a conference call back at the club at 1, so I told her I would count money and do invoices for her. Once I was done with that I reorganized the front desk. We had a lot of wasted space going on (which was why I picked up the desk organizer), so I tried to make things flow a little better. By the time I got that settled the delivery arrived and I spent the rest of my shift restocking and putting things away. I hit 9k on my Fitbit before 4pm.

Once I got home from work it was time to change clothes and head back out the door for our leadership gathering at church. About once a quarter, the church invites all group leaders to the main campus to discuss how the groups should be performing and growing. This is the first time I've gone because I just recently felt led to launch a group. I'm pretty excited about it, and I hope that I can talk about it soon! Anyway, tonight was part one and we'll go back for the second half tomorrow morning. I got a lot out of just the 2 hours from tonight, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Well, I didn't get a lot of pictures taken tonight, so here is a photo of our melting centerpiece...

Thursday, August 1, 2013


I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that it is already August! Tony starts 10th grade on Monday, Amy's birthday is in 19 days (good thing I already know what she's getting), and the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day, is just around the corner. Then it will be time for football, apples, chili, and pumpkins. Don't get me wrong, I love Fall. It's my favorite season. But where the heck did my summer go??? Luckily I have some pretty fun thins planned for the rest of this month.

This weekend is Tennessee's Tax Free Weekend, so we are going shopping bright an early tomorrow. Thank goodness, because I am in desperate need of some new shirts, pants, and shoes. Since Tennessee's sales tax is so high, it's like 10% off of everything I need! I may look at some of the school supplies for some craft projects I have in mind, but my main mission is to get clothes.

We intend to take a 9-Inning Vacation on the 11th. I haven't gone to a game all season which is a little weird. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but it's always fun to go. And I love this one because The Tennessee Smokies are playing the Montgomery Biscuits. I'm not kidding. Here's there mascot.
 How could you not want to see that team play?? I love our local team, but I'm not gonna lie... I kind of want a Montgomery Biscuits shirt. Only in the South, right?

Then, like I said, Amy's birthday is in 19 days. She's going out of town for a few days on her actual birthday, but I'm sure she and I will do something before or after her trip. I'm pretty stoked about her present, but seeing as she reads this blog, you're going to have to wait to find out what it is. Rest assured, it involves some craft-tastic goodness.

I have a few other things to catch you up on, but I'm going to leave this post on a high note. Hope your August is off to a great start!
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