Sunday Blessings – Dates, Weddings, New Restaurants and More

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how productive of a weekend I had. Guess what? It happened again. It’s not that I’m usually a lazy bum on the weekends…okay, sometimes I am…but there really isn’t too much variety. This weekend on the other hand was filled with all kinds of different things.

Remember my list of 6 plans from Friday? I accomplished every single one (except the free coffee part, because that promo is happening tomorrow – Monday – even though I won’t actually be participating).

Gym after work on Friday? Check!

Date night at FED? Check! I have mixed feelings about the new restaurant. It was not busy at all. For a Friday night at 7:00pm, that’s not a good sign. Our waitress…hm. How do I put this nicely? It must have been her first time ever working at a restaurant and seemed to have very minimal training, which made for slightly awkward interactions. HOWEVER. The food was pretty delish.

I had the Garden Burger, an oversize patty consisting mostly of black beans and corn. It was sandwiched between a single slice of grilled sourdough bread which had been slice in half. I found this a little odd, since the patty was way too big to sit on top half a slice of bread. I’d never seen it done this way, but it was tasty nonetheless. I opted for sweet potato fries on the side. I always love sweet potato fries, and while these weren’t the best I’ve had by any means, they were good too. Greg had the Shrimp Tacos with regular fries on the side. He ate his right up without any hesitation. Either he was starving or the food was just that good. I think it was a little of both.

After dinner, we stopped by Barnes and Noble so Greg could get a latte from the Starbucks in the cafe, then headed to TCBY for me. While enjoying our desserts, we started looking up movie showtimes and spontaneously decided to see The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’d never heard of it, but it was quite an interesting movie. Very different, a little strange and quirky, but entertaining overall. 
Moving right along. Saturday started how it always does, at the gym for Body Pump and then home for a late breakfast, relaxing on the couch, playing with Zoey and doing a few random chores around the house. Then it was time for my haircut. Welp. I said on Friday I was going to keep the length and add some layers. Somehow I talked myself into a bigger change and ended up cutting about 5-6 inches off my long locks. I don’t regret it necessarily, but I do miss the length already. I know this shorter cut is much better for the hot summer months to come, not to mention it makes my hair look and feel so much healthier. I’ll get used to it soon enough. I’m already loving the cute little ponytail I have, compared to my old horse mane!
Our friends’ wedding on Saturday night was so much fun. Congrats to Steve and Amanda!! If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me say this already, but I’ll say it again. Now that I am married, wedding ceremonies feel like a free marriage conference. I absolutely love hearing the vows said to one another, the scripture readings and the sermon. I almost always shed some tears and this wedding was no different. The words are powerful and inspiring. They’re reminders of the words Greg and I said to each other (almost one year ago!) and the loving, lifelong journey we are on together. 
Sunday we spent the morning at church, followed by brunch at Cafe Medley on Sullivan’s Island. I went by myself last Sunday while Greg had to work and was glad he was up for trying it out with me this week. The pics below are from last week when I got a sandwich made with edemame pesto, cucumbers, tomatoes and bacon on 10-grain bread. It was perfect. Today I got another sandwich on the 10-grain bread, this time with egg whites, cheese and tomato. With a hot coffee to go along with my breakfast, I was a happy girl. 
My only complaint is that for the lunch sandwiches, you have a choice of chips or a salad on the side. The term “salad” is used very, very loosely here. The “salad” consists of a small handful of spinach leaves and a small container of dressing on the side. I think it needs a little more “umph.” 

We spent the rest of the day running errands, taking a long walk with Zoey, working in the yard (most of the credit goes to Greg on this one) and enjoying dinner together at home. 
I am so blessed for all of these gifts in my life – the date nights, the meals out, the sunshine on our family walks, and the ability to pay for frivolous things like haircuts and new dresses. 
What’s one thing out of the ordinary you did this weekend?

Sunday Blessings – Sunsets

I’m cutting it close with the Sunday Blessings today, but you know what they say. Better late than never. 
The day has really gotten away from me. It started with teaching Sunday School, followed by attending the late church service and then stopping by the reception for my first graders who received their first communion today. I didn’t get home until one o’clock, which is about two hours later than a typical Sunday for me. I know that’s why the day felt so short, but I can’t complain. It’s been a perfectly balanced weekend of a little rest and a little activity.
After making lunch for Greg and me and catching up a couple episodes of The Office on Netflix, I forced myself off the couch to run some errands. These errands included Target for food and make-up…anndddd of course some clothes because I can’t get out of there without at least one new addition to my wardrobe…then Rack Room for a new pair of running shoes, Belk Men’s Store for Greg, and finally some post-shopping fro yo from TCBY. It was an all around very successful (and tasty) afternoon. 
With clear blue skies and the warm sun shining, I knew I needed to spend more time outside before the weekend came to end. Greg and I stopped back home to pick up the Zo Girl and headed to a nearby neighborhood along the water with a public pier. Just in time for sunset!
Our family sunset walk was just what I needed. I am so blessed for the beauty of the fiery sun, reflecting over the shimmering water. Not to mention the silhouettes of two loves of my life in front of it all. 

July Blog-A-Day #27: The Irony of Running in Silence

On Friday morning, I woke up extra early to fit a run into my day. I was meeting my friend Hannah for breakfast at Metto Coffee and Tea before work. I didn’t give myself too much time to exercise so decided a quick run outside would be best, opposed to going to the gym. Something about the quietness in our condo that morning made me leave the headphones behind and take that quietness with me. No music needed for this run. Just the sound of my feet on the pavement.

Or so I thought.

I ended up hearing and experiencing so much more than just my shuffling feet; more than loud music in my ears could have brought me. It was the most refreshing feeling to soak in the sounds around me and appreciate every last one. Call me a hippie or whatever, but I felt so connected to everything around me.

I was sore from a leg workout the day before, so my run was nice and steady (read: slow). Steady enough that I could type notes to myself to remember these senses.

Birds chirping
Cicadas singing
Feet shuffling across the gravel paths and sidewalks
The smell of low tide across the marsh
Water streaming down the man-made waterfall
The smell of chlorine wafting through the air by the neighborhood pool

….heavy breathing.

My Sunday Blessings post last week spurred part of the desire for this quiet time. Exercise isn’t usually what we think of when we hear the word “rest,” but it definitely rests my mind. Eliminating music allowed me to hear God more clearly and I even found myself praying out loud before long.

I find it ironic that by not listening to music, I thought I would be running in silence. In realty, I was able to hear so much more than I would have imagined.

How do you find quiet time in your life?

July Blog-A-Day #20: Resting to Hear God

Sundays are meant for rest and God made that clear to me in two ways today: the readings and sermon at church, as well as the reading in my devotional. 
Family, friends, work, hobbies…life is busy. The pressures from my “job” can easily take away from my “work” as a child of God. I truly believe my job in the corporate world is fulfilling God’s purpose for me, but I have been struggling to balance it with my growing desire to do more directly for others and growing my relationship with Him. 
Our culture looks highly upon people who are successful in their everyday jobs, working way more than 40 hours a week, earning promotions, more money, etc, etc. It’s awesome to be a hard-working and strive to be better. But after hearing God’s word today, I have been reminded of the importance of resting. Not just resting by laying on the couch and being lazy all day, but finding quiet time away from work, the TV, and even our loved ones to listen to God. Having a one-on-one conversation with God will allow his path for us to be made clear. 

July Blog-A-Day #14: What You’re Thankful for Right Now

My blog-a-day posts have been based off of Annabel’s blog-a-day for the month of June. I have been using almost all of the same prompts she used up until today. I wanted to talk about something else on my mind so decided to make today a traditional Sunday Blessings post and use this question to get started…

Day 14: What you’re thankful for right now, in this moment. 

I am feeling so thankful for God’s grace and his strength to get me through any struggle, whether it’s physical, mental or emotional, no matter how big or how small.

One of the Bible verses in my daily devotional today was Psalm 37:23-24:

This also reminds me of the poem, “Footprints in the Sand.” God is always by our side. Even when things get rough, he is holding our hand or carrying us through it. 
There is a lesson to be learned through every struggle. No matter how big or how small it may seem, there is reason for it.

Keeping these things in mind brings me so much peace. I hope it does for you too!

Sunday Blessings – Stress Relievers

Good morning! It’s been a long time since I have done a Sunday blessings post, but the past day and a half has been full of reasons to feel blessed.

1. Beautiful sunrises like this make early morning runs totally worth it. I love my city!

2. Dog-sitting for the weekend was a fun trial for having a dog of our own one day, which may actually be coming sooner than later. Eeek!! Don’t hold me to that, but let’s just say some puppy fever was sparked recently and we’re taking it seriously.
3. Retail therapy is a real thing, in case you were wondering. After a long week at work, a day of shopping can relieve a lot of stress. Proven fact. 
Fall is upon us and even though some days still feel like summer, a new season means an excuse for a new wardrobe. I took an afternoon shopping spree to Marshall’s, along with what seemed like everyone else in Charleston – It was packed! I found some great fall clothes and tried on some heels. I felt like Kim Kardashian. 
4. Another great stress reliever is baking. The dog had me up even earlier than usual on Saturday, meaning I had time to get my workout in AND bake before the day had even really begun. Here is a preview of a recipe coming this week…
Have a happy and blessed Sunday!

Sunday Blessings – A Plant Based Diet

First things first. It’s APRIL?! How the heck did that happen? I don’t have a clever way to fool you this morning, so I’m not even going to try. I’m just trying to figure out how April came upon us so quickly. Is anyone else feeling the same way?

With the start of a new month, I figure now is the perfect time to make a commitment to something that I have been thinking about non-stop for two days now. Just a heads up, this is a long, pictureless post. Are you ready? Here we go!

I watched a documentary on Netflix Friday night called, “Forks Over Knives.” The film follows several doctors whose research over the past few decades have proven that many diseases and cancer can be prevented and even reversed with the implementation of a whole foods, plant-based diet. The facts cannot be ignored- Americans eat WAY too much meat and animal-based products for our own good. The misconceptions that we have about the benefits from the amount of protein in meat and the amount of calcium in dairy milk are destroying us.

Christina recently began adapting a similar diet and talks about it here. To be honest, when I read about her changes, along with any other restricted diet such as vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, etc. I was not convinced in the least that I wanted anything to do with this lifestyle. I love chicken. Although I don’t eat red meat too often, I do love a good burger every now and then. I typically buy skim dairy milk (although I have been buying Almond milk more recently) to pour on top of dry cereal for breakfast at least four days a week. And then there’s the processed foods. I have gotten pretty good about this one over the past several months, but still have my downfalls.

But, just because I am at a healthy weight and not sick now, doesn’t mean the build-up of animal-based foods isn’t going to have an effect down the road. Looking at the research shown in the documentary, cancer rates are unbelievable lower in countries whose people do not drink glasses of cows milk at breakfast and eat slabs of meat for dinner.

If you haven’t guess already, I have decided to incorporate this whole foods, plant-based diet into my lifestyle. I will say, I am not taking this to the extreme by any means. Chicken mixed in a salad or stir-fry every so often is certain to happen. Boxed cake mix to help out with some of my recipes? You can be sure that’s not going anywhere. And I don’t think I’ll be able to part with eggs either.

Mandy is also challenging herself to a similar diet change, but taking it much more to the extreme than I am committing to. She talks about it here. I just wanted to quote the same Bible verse she did:

“And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” -Genesis 1:29

God gave us bright colorful fruits and vegetables to eat. There is nothing wrong with eating meat, but it doesn’t seem as if that was God’s original intent for our source of nutrition. From this point on, I want to  go back to those roots (no pun intended) and bring those all-natural foods to the center of my diet.

I realize this is a somewhat controversial topic, but it is a personal choice that I am making to benefit my own health. It is not going to be easy to eliminate foods I loved for my whole life, but I am looking forward to the challenge.

Sunday Blessings – Mini Stay-cation

Today I am very grateful for the chance I had to spend this weekend as tourist in my own town.

One of the perks of working at my company’s conference this weekend was that I also got to stay at the hotel downtown since we had a few extra rooms. It was nice going out with friends on Friday night and not having to worry about driving 25 minutes back home. Instead, everything was within walking distance and I got to crash at the hotel. And boy did I crash hard. I slept in until 9:15 yesterday! Very unlike me. But very nice.

As much as I love the part of town I live in now, I loved getting to relive my downtown residency days.

Greg and I started our Saturday with a filling breakfast from Sweetwater Cafe, a diner-style restaurant I have always wanted to try.

I, of course, had blueberry pancakes.

Greg, of course, had biscuits and sausage gravy.

We both loved our breakfasts and especially loved it was relatively cheap! My short-stack of pancakes were $5.75 (including the addition of the blueberries) and the biscuits and gravy bowl was $6.75.

Sweetwater Cafe on Urbanspoon

We strolled King Street and the Market for the rest of the morning before going back to the hotel. I worked at the conference until about 5, then went back to my room to watch the end of the OSU game (which they dominated, btw). 
Before I knew it, it was time to figure out what was for dinner! I thought about Subway for a split second, then decided I needed to take advantage of being downtown and get something I don’t normally get to have. With a couple of possibilities in mind, I head out for a short walk before deciding on Bull Street Gourmet’s new(ish) location on King Street. Besides sandwiches and salads, the shop has a wide selection of bottled wines and groceries. This King Street location is huge compared to the original one where I would eat during college. I was very impressed and jealous that I can’t go there every single day. 
The only thing I have ever had from there is the Bull Street Chicken Salad Sandwich. Sooo good. But the Bull Street Burger on the specials board had me questioning my go-to sandwich. Jalapeno cream cheese, shaved red onion and arugula on top of a juicy burger? Ok, fine. 
Greg met up with me right as my food was served and grabbed himself a beer. I was debating buying a bottle of wine, but the burger distracted me until I finished every last bite. 
Bull Street Gourmet on Urbanspoon
We checked out of the hotel this morning and made our way back home. It was a great mini weekend getaway, but I am happy to be home and ready for a day of watching basketball while dinner cooks away in the crock pot!

Sunday Blessings – Rainy Days

I’ve been getting in the habit of writing my Sunday Blessings posts later in the day than my regular posts. Hope that’s okay with you. I’ve been taking advantage of waking up slowly on Sunday mornings, followed by church and quality relaxation time on the couch. With my mom and step dad in town this weekend, I also wanted to spend time with them rather than stuck to my computer.

So, what am I feeling blessed for this week?

(Pinned from here)
I realize a lot of people across the country right now probably wish they never have to see rain or go through a storm again. I feel terrible for those who have suffered from the storms that passed through the Midwest last week and into this weekend. I am so thankful nobody that I personally knew was harmed and my prayers go out to those who were.
It didn’t storm too much in Charleston, but it did rain and rain and rain all day yesterday into this morning. Days like that almost force you to stay inside and be lazy. That’s just what we did. 
Normally when my mom is in town, we spend hours walking around downtown, shopping and eating out. Although that may seem like more fun than staying inside all day, I think we all had a great time staying low-key.
I made Cinnamon Pecan Waffles for brunch from a mix that Greg’s mom bought me for my birthday, along with the waffle iron (thanks, Julia!). Everyone was a fan of the waffles and they beat anything we could have bought from a restaurant. 
With the porch door open, we spent the afternoon watching movies and listening to the rainfall. It’s such a pleasant noise, isn’t it?
We did venture outdoors in the evening for something though. Coleman Public House! Greg and I were so excited to let my mom and Thom in on the macaroni and cheese secret. I ordered my usual Macaroni and Cheese appetizer with grilled chicken added. The waitress told me all of the other servers were talking about what a good idea it was. I told her that if it makes it on the menu as a regular item, it better be named after me! Although, I have to admit I don’t think it really is that genius of an idea. But I’ll take any credit I can get. 
We were there early enough in the day that there was still natural light shining through the window and I could get a decent picture of the Fried Green Tomato appetizer.
Between the four of us, this was gone in about .8 seconds. I dug into the mac and cheese before bothering to take a picture of that though. 
It was still raining even after dinner so we headed right back home to sit inside some more. We weren’t about to call it a night without dessert though, so I baked something new and boy was it tasty. I will share all about that soon. 
The rain has finally stopped now. It was fun while it lasted, but I have had my fix and am ready for sunshine the rest of the week.
How do you like to spend rainy days?

Sunday Blessings – Life in the Lowcountry

It’s been a few weeks since I have been able to write a post on Sunday, since holiday traveling got in the way. Now that I am back to a fairly regular schedule, I wanted to make and extra effort to dedicate my Sunday posts to my “blessings.”

As fun as traveling and visiting family can be, it is always nice to return home, unpack the suitcase and get back on a normal schedule. You can say I am more than thankful for normalcy. Anyone that knows me knows how much of a planner I am. I make lists and plan everything. If I am bored, I will try to make a list of something. Or write out the next days schedule. I even typically have most of my meals planned for at least two or three days in advance. I know this might seem crazy to some people and can cause more stress in the long run for myself if my plan doesn’t go like it’s supposed to, but just having a better idea of how I will be spending my time puts me at ease. Nerd? Yes. Cray-cray? Yes. I’m okay with these descriptions about myself.

After this past full week of work after such a long vacation, I was more than ready for this weekend. I was really looking forward to yesterday, because Greg and I were attending a cooking class downtown as part of his Christmas gift to me!

There were 12 people in the class and we divided up into small groups to make each of the dishes for our “Taste of the Lowcountry” lunch. We were allowed to decide which dish we wanted to be in charge of, so you might think I would head straight to the dessert: Apple cobbler topped with a cinnamon sugar biscuit (sounds amazing, huh?). Well, I definitely thought about it, but I already saw two women heading that way. Instead of having a cat fight over it, I thought it would be fun to try the main dish: Pork rib sandwiches. 
I can make apple cobbler in my kitchen at home anytime, so I wanted to take advantage of the stove-top grill in the “classroom.” Plus, this would be a little more challenging than baking, which I do much more often. 

Some of the other dishes the class made were sesame slaw, warm butter bean and shrimp salad…

…Pimento macaroni and cheese…
…And finally that dessert I told you about, apple cobbler. 
It was all SO good. I couldn’t choose just one favorite. But the ribs, bean and shrimp salad and apple cobbler were at the top of my list. Another great part of the lunch was the wine. I was not expecting that, and we were only served a small (I mean SMALL) glass. Most people didn’t even drink theirs. Are they crazy? Pass it my way please. Jusssttt kidding. It wasn’t even barley noon. But the white wine went with all of the food so well. 
In addition to making the food and learning a few new cooking tips from the instructor, she also gave us background on most of the foods and how they came to be popular “lowcountry” foods. I feel so blessed to live in such an amazing city with unique foods, and more importantly, a strong appreciation for those foods. 
Of course I am more thankful for my boyfriend who got me such a thoughtful gift that we got to participate in together, doing what I love most. 
I hope you all have a happy Sunday!