Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The World's BEST Sloppy Joes

(adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
Serves 6-8

2 tbsp Butter
2 1/2 pounds Ground Beef
3/4 Large Onion, Diced
1 Large Green Bell Pepper, Diced
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 1/2 cup Ketchup
1 cup Water
2 tsp Brown Sugar
2 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1-2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Kaiser Rolls
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Add 1 tbsp of butter to a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef, season with black pepper and cook until brown. Drain and discard fat. Set ground beef aside.

Add another 1 tbsp of butter to skillet and add in onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook until vegetables begin to soften. Add ground beef back to skillet.

Add ketchup, water, Worcestershire and brown sugar. Once mixed, mix in chili pepper, red pepper flakes and dry mustard. Simmer for 15 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Slice the Kaiser Rolls and butter each half. Toast/brown rolls in a pan or toaster. Spoon meat mixture over the rolls and top with shredded cheddar. Grab some extra napkins and ENJOY!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Long Time Gone

Oh, hey.  Remember me?  The girl who use to blog?

It has been a really, really long time since I've done much writing. (Publicly, anyway.) I reached a strange point last year where I just ran out of things to say or I felt like it was becoming boring or I'd start a passionate blog and I'd just lose my way. But I missed it, honestly, because it is such an outlet for me and lately I've been really pulled back to the blogging world. So, in an effort to jump start it, I'm going to do my best to share what we've been up to, and then hopefully the blog ideas that have been bouncing around in my head will flow freely!

The last year has been full of some major ups and downs. (Which, quite frankly, feels like the status quo for us.) And until now, I have not felt ready to open up about some of the tougher things we've encountered.

Let's take a chronological journey...

Just over a year ago, we moved into a perfect little house in a great area and we absolutely love it here!
We've officially lived through all four seasons at this house!

My brother Frankie, my best friend Kim & I went to the 2 Day Suburbia Music Festival and had an absolute blast! There were dozens of bands and musicians, but the highlights for us were Third Eye Blind, twenty one pilots, Yelawolf, Killer Mike, NEEDTOBREATHE, J Cole and The Alabama Shakes!
May 2014

I went with my friends Erika, Brittany & Rob to see Johnnyswim and it was incredible.
July 2014

Ryan and I got to see Nickel Creek from the 2nd row. Life changing stuff.
August 2014

We also got an up close and personal view of Jared Leto and Thirty Seconds to Mars. (I was clearly much more excited about this than Ryan was...)
September 2014

For Halloween, we both decided to be super-heroes. Ryan was Superman (rightfully so) and I was Rosie the Riveter!
October 2014

Frankie found a tiny, abandoned kitten at his work and we decided to take her in. We named her Piper and loved her fiercely for 5 days, until sadly, she passed away. It was so sad for us, but her tiny little body just couldn't fight off the damage the Big, Bad World did before we got her.
November 2014

Frankie and I got the chance to see Ryan Adams (!!!!!) play in Dallas for the first time in almost a decade. It was a night I'll never forget!
December 2014

On New Year's Eve, Ryan & I hopped in a limo with both of our brothers and our good friends Brittany & Rob to see Dove Tail and The Wild Feathers. It was such a fun night!
December 2014

I received a high honor at work when I was voted my company's 2014 Employee of the Year by my co-workers.
January 2015

Ryan turned 30 in February, and that same weekend, we found out I was pregnant! It took us 5 years to get there, and it bums me out that this is the only picture I have of myself during that time. Grievously, we lost the baby at 10 weeks. It's been one of the hardest things we've ever endured, and it lead to the only blog post I wrote in the last year, until today.
February 2015

Ryan got a fantastic promotion at work. Even though it's meant longer days and more stress for my hard-working husband, it's still been a game changer for us! I am immensely proud of him.
April 2015

The Denton Women's Collective jumped back into Finding Kind with both feet when we finally got it in at Lewisville High School!
April 2015

I donated my hair for the 3rd time! This time, I decided to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

April 2015

Like a gift from the universe, a sweet Mama Bunny decided to make her nest in our yard this Spring! It was both stressful and thrilling to watch these babies grow. Almost every morning we see the 3 now-teenager-bunnies in our front yard and I love that they feel at home with us.
May 2015

Ryan & I attended our first SOFAR (SOngs From A Room) show and had the best time hearing some new artists as well as a couple of favorites!
May 2015

At the end of May, we experienced another devastating loss when we had to say good-bye to our sweet Chloe girl. It was utterly heartbreaking, especially after everything else we've been through this year, but we found some peace knowing she was no longer suffering. It feels like there is a hole in our family and I miss her every single day.
May 2015

My dear friend Lynsday and I went to see Jonathan Jackson + Enation and even got to MEET Jonathan and his brother (and bandmate) Richard! We've both been fans of Jonathan Jackson since the early 90's so it was quite a treat!

June 2015

Last month, I saw a post about a 1 year old kitty that needed a home. Cooper had been quite lonely since he lost his big sister and companion, so we decided to bring him home! We named him Oliver (we call him "Ollie" or "The Dude") and he was just a dream... except he did NOT get along with Cooper. He would attack him viciously, but was sweet as sugar with us. Thankfully, my brother really bonded with the little guy so Ollie now lives a very happy life with Frankie!
June 2015

Ryan & I roadtripped up to Kentucky to visit my Mom and celebrate my Aunt and Uncle's 50th wedding anniversary! Ryan also had his 1st (and 2nd) Big Boy burger.
July 2015

Most of my Mom's side of the family - July 2015
While we were in Kentucky, Ryan's precious Grandfather "Papa Herbie" passed away. He was a really incredible man who will be sorely missed. I feel grateful to have gotten almost 7 years to be his granddaughter (in-law).

And that catches us up to now... Cooper is happy as can be now that Ollie has gone to live with Frankie. He is just the sweetest little snaggletooth kitty there ever was and I'm thankful every day that he is ours! < Crazy Cat Lady alert >

July 2015
Thanks for welcoming me back, Blogosphere! 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Dear Baby

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, so naturally I've been thinking about you non-stop, Baby. We didn't plan you. Not really. We talked about you, asked for you, tried for you and dreamed about you for a long time. But then we'd given up and accepted we'd never have you. And we felt okay with that decision.

But then something so miraculous happened, and we made you

When I found out I was carrying you, I was terrified. I was terrified of the changes my body was going to have to make, terrified of how I was going to physically bring you into the world, terrified wondering if we were ready for you. But a few days later, the fear subsided and I was so happy about you. I talked to you, sang to you, put my hands on my stomach in hopes you would feel my love. We talked about what we would name you. We looked at the furniture you would sleep in and the stroller we would push you around in. We told our loved ones about you. Suddenly everything was about you.

You made me sick almost every day. I felt the strain growing you had on my system. But it was also a reminder that you were there, doing what you were supposed to be doing. A week before our 10 week sonogram, I started to feel a little better, and that filled me with a rush of excitement. I was so excited to see you. We waited with baited breath to see your tiny body on the giant screen in the doctor's office. She found you so quickly. There you were. So real. Your daddy squeezed my arm, smiling. The energy and love in the room was palpable.

But then there was silence as she snapped a million pictures of you and the energy in the room changed. I was still, trying not to panic, but my instincts took over and I asked her if everything was okay. If you were okay. She put her hand on my knee and quietly told me you were gone. That you'd been gone for a week. Your tiny heart had stopped beating. I felt the air leaving my body as your daddy took my hand.  We talked to the doctor and she told us what would happen next, but I hardly heard a word she said. All I could think about was you. That I'd only gotten to carry you for 10 short weeks. That I'd never even know if you were a boy or a girl. Whether you were our son or our daughter.

And then I mourned you. I still mourn you.

I was okay with never having you...Before there was a you. Then all I wanted was you. People kept telling me that we could try again. That maybe we could have another baby. But I didn't want another baby. I just wanted you.

I may have gotten only 10 weeks with you. But for the rest of my life, I will love you.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Photo Dump

I miss blogging...but can't seem to finish a single post lately.

So, here are some pictures instead. :)

If Chloe had a theme song, it would be Destiny's Child "Survivor".

I got to see the incomparable Patty Griffin in January.  It was the stuff dreams are made of.

Ryan and I headed out for date night to see Jake Bugg at House of Blues.

Jake Bugg

Cooper Trooper presenting me with one of his mouse toys.

Celebrating Ryan's 29th birthday 2/7

My little brother donated 10+ inches! I LOVE his new, short hair.
Our Furbabies <3

Friday, January 17, 2014

On My Drive Home

I've had a rough week.  A little bit because of work, a little bit personal, a lot a bit me being overly sensitive. (That last one is no surprise, if you know me very well.)  But the last hour of my work day today was especially unpleasant, so when I left work I was feeling uneasy and upset.  I fought tears as I drove, realizing I wasn't quite ready to go home.  I didn't want to bring this mood into my house and splatter it all over my happy husband.  So, I just kept driving.  I had absolutely no idea where I was heading but I suddenly felt the need to exit the highway.  I made a turn, then another.  And soon I was in a busy parking lot.  I decided to park and try to shake off (or cry out) my feelings.
Then I saw them. 

A young family - a man, a women, and two small children - standing on the corner, holding a sign that asked for help.

I cannot truly put into words the feeling that washed over me.  Call it what you want - God, The Universe, Fate, A Coincidence - but I knew I had ended up there for a reason.  I was being given the perspective I needed to put me in my place.  

I dug through my wallet for all the cash I could find (sadly, it wasn't much) and drove up to the family. I rolled down my window and handed a humble and gracious man what I had.  His wife burst into tears and thanked me profusely.  And then I burst into tears, too.  In fact, I had to pull over about a mile down the road because I could no longer see through my tears. 

Now, I am sitting in front of my computer trying desperately to find the right words to tie up this post with a pretty bow, but my hands are still shaking and words are escaping me.  All I can think of are the lyrics to my favorite NEEDTOBREATHE song.

So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, can you promise me to
Keep your eyes open, my love

Keep your eyes open

And open they are.  In a way they haven't been for some time.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"When Are You Going To Have Kids?"

I've said a million times on this blog that I am "an open book". And that is true 95% of the time. But sometimes, things are too hard for me to talk about. For the past two years, I've privately (with the support of a handful of my nearest and dearest) dealt with some hard truths. Now that I have celebrated my 30th birthday AND Ryan & I have celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary, the frequency in which people ask when we are starting a family has doubled, at least. That is a really baited, heavy question for us...and I finally feel ready to give everyone the real, true answer.

Since before we even got married, people were asking when Ryan & I would start a family. We decided we would wait two years to just enjoy being married. So, after we celebrated our 2nd anniversary, all bets were off! Over the next year, I was certain I was pregnant a few times, and even got a false positive once. But alas, no babies. In 2011, I went to see my OBGYN because I was starting to worry. My doctor held my hand as she said the words "PCOS - Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome". I immediately thought back to 2009 when I landed in the ER with bursting cysts on my left ovary. I picked up only the key phrases as she spoke. "Imbalance of hormones, irregular menstrual cycle, cysts on the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, weight gain/trouble losing weight." Check, check, check, check, check.


I closed my eyes to clear the tears, trying not to freak out. Nothing in my life had felt as constant and real as my desire to be a Mother. It wouldn't be IMPOSSIBLE for me to get pregnant...just unlikely. We talked briefly about options, medications we could use to try to get pregnant on our own, things I could do to try and "boost" my natural ability, in-vitro, etc., but I needed time to digest it all. In a way, I'm still digesting it.

I would be lying if I said there haven't been moments when I feel hopeless. The first several months after my diagnosis were the hardest. I almost couldn't be around babies. A co-worker and his wife brought their new baby into work, and I had to run to my office and close the door so they wouldn't see me crying.

Then we add Ryan into the mix.

Once all of that started happening, I knew that trying to have a baby immediately - if we even COULD - was not the right choice. I needed to take care of my husband, and myself, first. All I can tell you right now is that we absolutely do want a family. And I do realize I am not getting ANY younger, but right now there are so many factors at play, that the best thing for us to do is focus on one thing at a time. Right now, my top priority is Ryan and getting his hormones in check so he is back to feeling like himself, naturally, all the time.

I still have moments of over-whelming sadness. Sometimes I have to fight to keep myself from wondering if I'll ever mother my own children. But mostly, I've accepted that these are the cards we were dealt. Ryan and I have endured so many hardships together, and I know this one will be no exception. But until we get it all figured out, the answer to the pressing question "When are you going to have kids?" will remain the same.

I don't know.