24 August 2018

Edible: Sausage Balls

Until a few years ago, I stayed away from all things that had sausage in it. I didn't eat sausage links or patties at breakfast, I didn't eat any kind of pizza that included sausage as a topping, and I certainly didn't eat things like Sausage Dip or Sausage Balls. Nope.

I have no idea how the flip got switched, but now, I'm likely to choose sausage over bacon for breakfast and at a party, go ahead and try to pull me away from the Sausage Dip. Ain't gonna happen. When our friends Chris and Sarah showed up to a tailgate with sausage balls a couple of seasons ago, I'm pretty sure that I devoured at least half of them, if not more. Ever since then, I've been on a mission to perfect the Sausage Ball recipe.

... except, there's no need to perfect it. Any basic recipe for sausage balls is pretty fantastic! Here's the one that we like to use in our house.

Sausage Balls

1 lb Jimmy Dean sausage
3 cups Original Bisquick mix
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together sausage, Bisquick, and cheese.
3. Roll mixture together in your hands to form 1" balls and place on a greased cookie sheet.
4. Cook in the oven 20 - 25 minutes, or until brown.
5. Enjoy!

Things I will never admit: how many of these bad boys I ate by myself. I'm not great at sharing when it comes to these, and I've got a husband who respects the "don't you dare touch that piece of food" look that his pregnant wife occasionally has in her eye.

These are exceptional ideal for morning tailgates. Can you tell that I've got Clemson football games and tailgates on my mind this week? Since Clemson's first game of the season is at noon and will have a morning tailgate, you can bet that these will be making an appearance at the season opener. 

23 August 2018

If You Plant It, It WILL Grow: Lessons From Our First Garden

This spring, after spending two years talking about it, Patrick and I planted our very first vegetable garden in our yard.

Patrick had cleared out a small area to plant a few herbs, jalapeños, and green bell peppers and we had put together a couple of raised beds for squash, zucchini, and tomatoes. We figured we wouldn't do anything too ambitious for our first garden. The garden beds were loaded up with good soil, we purchased our seeds, and we spent one evening in mid-April planting.

Then... we waited. And we waited. And we waited some more.

On Monday night, four months and two days after we planted our first seeds, we ate the very first things from our garden: baby tomatoes and jalapeños! It was a big summer of learning all of the lessons when it comes to growing a vegetable garden.

One: If you plant it, it will grow.

In my history of attempting to grow things or keep plants alive, I've failed time and time again. I figured it couldn't hurt to plant a few extra seeds here and there. Patrick wasn't paying too much attention to what I was doing and I feel certain he would have corrected me had he seen what was happening. It wasn't possible for every seed to sprout a viable plant, was it? I was hedging my bets.

Lesson learned. If you plant it, it will grow.

We must have had over 200 tomato plants in a 3x3 raised garden bed. Y'all. Patrick weeded through and thinned them out but we still had an insane amount of tomato plants. We probably only needed about 9 tomato plants in this particular bed... not 200 and 9.

Our squash and zucchini were out of control, too. My bad?

Two: Label what you plant and where you plant it.

I remembered for all of thirty seconds what seeds had been planted where. We had no idea which rows were the ones with squash, zucchini, beefeater tomatoes, baby tomatoes, jalapeños, or bell peppers. When things started sprouting, we spent half the time looking at the leaves and trying to figure out what was growing where.

You could probably combine these first two lessons together under one "Don't let Chesson do the planting" and call it a day!

Three: It needs sunlight to grow.

Duh, right? This was one thing that we couldn't have really predicted in advance but it's one worth nothing. Our insane number of tomato plants grew crazy tall and ended up blocking the sunlight from getting to our squash and zucchini plants.

Squash and zucchini were what I was most excited about eating from our garden and they were the first ones to bite the dust. When we got home from our 4th of July vacation, there was nothing left but a bunch of dead plants that were stretching outside of their garden box trying to get to some sunlight. We really didn't know  that's what was going to happen, but now that we know, we've made a note to switch things around for next year.

Four: Growing a garden takes a lot of patience.

Y'all. I never imagined that it would be AUGUST before we had anything to eat from our garden. At least it was fun watching everything sprout up and watching each of the veggies emerge and grow? Now, we've got more jalapeños than we can handle, our bell peppers are growing like crazy, and we have a handful of baby tomatoes done enough to pick every single day.

These guys still haven't ripened up yet and we're not sure what's going on with them.

I'm already ready to plant our second garden next spring! Will we grow from seeds again? Absolutely. We'll start them in cups inside though and then transfer them outside when it's warm enough so we get a little bit of a head start on our garden. Plus, that'll keep me from planting a million seeds again.

22 August 2018

Life Without Running

I remember the very first 5K I did after finding out I was pregnant. It was the Get to the Green 5K, a St. Patty's Day themed 5K that's held every year before the beginning of the St. Pat's in 5 Points Festival.

I did my best to take it easy and didn't use my watch to keep track of my time or my distance. I figured that I shouldn't run too hard but that running wouldn't be an issue for me at all. I ended up running the race in 29:40 which is a decent race for me - not too fast, not too slow, just right in the middle.

The next week, I ran my favorite YMCA Bunny Hop 5K. I had run this race three straight years and was ready to add on my 4th year and maybe even a new PR. It's always one of my quickest races! Sure enough, I dipped back down to 28:30 and was mere seconds away from setting a PR. I felt great after the race!

On that Tuesday, I went in to the OBGYN for my first doctor's appointment to confirm that yes, I was actually expecting. What I wasn't expecting? To hear that I wouldn't be able to run anymore while pregnant.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I had been told no more running. To be fair, when I asked my doctor if I could run because I liked to run 5K races, she told me that I could absolutely, 100% continue running while pregnant. She was fully supportive of me continuing to exercise and participate in 5Ks. However, she wanted me to keep my heart rate between 140-160 and no more. Y'all, my heart rate averages around 185-195 when I run and that's just running, not sprinting or anything crazy.

I went for a jog... like a "should this even be called running because it kind of feels like speed walking" kind of jog. My heart rate immediately hit 175. Running wasn't going to be an option for me, period. I had no intentions of doing anything to jeopardize our baby and if that meant I couldn't run, I couldn't run. But it doesn't mean that I wasn't frustrated and annoyed beyond belief about it.

It seriously took me a long time to come to terms with the whole no running thing... and even longer to come to terms that I was upset about not being able to run when I'd spent 25 years of my life doing everything I could to avoid running in the first place. It was much easier to digest over the hot summer months when I typically take a running break, but now that fall is right around the corner and some of my favorite races are coming up, it's hard to see everyone else getting out to run, to train, and to race. My typical first 5K of the fall season is coming up this weekend and it's so weird not to be preparing for it.

Don't get me wrong - I'll do anything to keep baby girl healthy, growing, and staying put until her due date. It means conquering my fear of needles, shots, and blood draws and it means adapting to a few months without an activity that I love to do.

But you better believe that I am counting down the days until I can lace up my running shoes and get back out there in January. I've got races circled on my calendar, goals set, and I've been researching all of the best strollers for running.

20 August 2018

The Perfect Tailgate Wine Glass

If there's one thing that my mom and I love to have on hand for a Clemson tailgate, it's a cute wine glass.

We've built up quite a collection over the years! I think we used a different wine glass / tumbler / drink thing for every single tailgate last year and we had a fun time documenting a few of them throughout the season:

Naturally, with football season quickly approaching {you know, in less than two weeks!}, I'm on the hunt for what will be our drink ware of choice for this season. Some of our glasses have been gifts, some have been finds on Etsy, and some have been purchased at stores in Clemson. These are the top contenders for this year.

Swig 6oz Stemless Flute
I love our Swig stemless wineglass from last season, and saw this stemless flute version when Patrick and I were in Charleston earlier this summer. Since I've been on a big Fré Brut kick lately {thank you, baby girl!} this one is probably my top contender. The only downside is that it's 6oz, so it's not holding much in it.

Speaking of all things Swig, my sister-in-law knows exactly what to get my mom and I each year for Christmas these days: fun Clemson-colored drinkware. Two years ago it was a powder coated orange yeti and this past Christmas it was an orange/purple tie dyed Swig wine tumbler. This one is definitely making it into the rotation this fall! I haven't been able to find this exact one online but there's an orange and white one that would be perfect.

There's also a solid purple, orange, and a pearl color that would all be great as well.

Clemson Acrylic Wine Glass
Not into stemless? This Clemson one from Swoozies is a great option. It's sold out online right now, but I'm hoping that it comes back in stock sometime over the season.

Monogrammed Wine Tumbler w/ Straw and Lid
Anyone else struggle with walking from tailgate to tailgate and spilling your drink with each step? No, just me? It's a skill that I have yet to master even after all the years of tailgating that I've had to practice it. All of that is to say that I love tailgate glasses that have a lid and a straw like this one.

I bought these for my bridesmaids for my bachelorette weekend and made sure that all of the Clemson girls received the orange lid one so it could be used for tailgating. This is one my favorite ones throughout the years to use!

Happy Tailgating!

17 August 2018

Five on Friday

Can we talk about how football season is just around the corner? I can't wait. I am beyond ready to tailgate across the street from Bowman Field, watch my favorite team play in Death Valley, and to see all of my friends that I typically only get to see during football season. I'm even excited for the number of Saturdays that I'll have at home this fall where I can curl up on the couch watching College Gameday and then a day full of awesome games. Anyone else craving football season or is it just me?

Anyone interested in a post about where we find all of our fun tailgate glasses? I have that coming your way next week!

It's been awhile since there's been a Five on Friday post here on the blog, so let's get to it:

True story: earlier this week, I had to google how to listen to a podcast. Yup. I know that podcasts have been around for years but I've never had that much interest in listening to one until recently. Now I'm hooked on two:

Rise Podcast with Rachel Hollis
Awesome with Alison

If you love podcasts and haven't listened to either one of them, try them out!

Can you tell what the priorities are in our house as fall approaches?

Football season is always one of my favorite times of the year and I never, ever wish it would go by any faster than it already does. But you add into that that at the end of football season, sweet baby girl will be making her appearance? It kind of makes me want to wish a football season... just a little bit.

Speaking of Baby Girl, this one was big for me this week: I had my glucose test {& I definitely took my mom with me to hold my hand for the blood draw}

I have spent all 30 of my years absolutely terrified of needles. My mom used to drag me out from underneath the table to get my finger pricked or get a shot at the pediatrician's office. I bawled in the waiting room while waiting to get my Meningitis shot so that I could go to college. They tried to draw my blood at the OBGYN when I was 19 and I got so panicked about it that the nurse refused to draw my blood because she was afraid that I was going to hurt myself or her if she tried. I spent 12 years blissfully needle-free until I got pregnant. I had a successful, tear-free blood draw at my 9 week appointment thanks to some excellent hand holding by Patrick and an excellent nurse.

My glucose test? Piece of cake. Either this whole needle thing was completely, 100% in my head or the nurses at my OBGYN are just plain amazing at sticking a needle in my arm {or the excellent hand holding from the mama!} Even better news? I passed!

Patrick and I fell in love with this cookbook one rainy morning in Kiawah, and my parent's gifted Patrick his own copy as an early birthday present this week. You can bet that we've already bookmarked about a dozen recipes to try in here! Our weekend definitely has biscuits involved.

And just for fun, here's a sneak peek at two of the rooms in our house that we've been hard at work on lately.

The living room:

We have one more piece of furniture that we need to get for this room {the coffee table - which I think we're planning to build} and then I'll call it complete and will share the whole thing with y'all.

The nursery:

The rug for this room arrives today, we need to buy the crib & the glider, and we're shopping for some things to hang on the wall this weekend.

I can't wait to show y'all what they look like when they're completely done!


Happy Friday! Hope y'all have a great weekend!

06 August 2018

A 30th & 60+5th Birthday Celebration in NYC

Once upon a time, or three months ago, my mom and I traveled up to New York City for a four day adventure to celebrate a year of milestone birthdays for the both of us. It was an incredible trip and it's been long overdue to write about it on here. But, the trip happened right before I hit my 1st trimester work/sleep/eat dinner/sleep/repeat hibernation and now it's time to play catch up. So, ready for it?

My mom threw out the idea of going to NYC back in January, and we booked the trip in March... two days after I found out that I was pregnant. I'd be heading to NYC right around 7-8 weeks pregnant, and figured that it would still be an ok time to go.

We woke up at the crack of dawn, got ready, and headed for the airport. 

We hopped on a quick two hour flight up to NYC and we were at our hotel by about 10:30am. Since it was my first trip and we didn't know the city super well, we chose to stay right off Times Square at the Marriott Marquis.

It was a great location and the best part is that when we arrived, they checked us right in. How awesome was that? We were planning to check our luggage with them and go out and explore before coming back to our room later that afternoon. That alone made the hotel 100% worth it to me!

The weather was beautiful the entire time that we were in town and it made walking around so easy. We set out on foot and wandered around Rockefeller Center before making our way to Central Park. I think that I could have spent days in Central Park and would have been 100% ok with it. We took a break and stopped at The Boathouse to grab a drink... wine for mom, a glass of water for me.

That evening, we ate dinner around the corner at a fantastic little Italian place before walking to The Gershwin Theatre to see Wicked. It was AMAZING and I cannot recommend it enough to y'all! I was blown away by it. I've never been a big fan of going to see plays or musicals, but if I can see more that are along those lines, count me in.

I'm 99% sure that I was asleep within 2 minutes of my head hitting the pillow that night.

I thought we walked a lot on Thursday, but it was nothing compared to all of the miles and places we walked on Friday! Originally, the plan had been to go see if we could get in the background of the Today Show, but sleeping in a little longer sounded oh so much better.

We started off the day by walking from our hotel to Chelsea Market {about a 2 mile walk} for breakfast and shopping before heading up to the Highline to walk around a bit. From there, it was a day all about being spontaneous. We looked to see how far the 9/11 Memorial was and then trekked 2.6 miles through Greenwich Village and Tribeca down to it. From there, we walked half a mile to see the Charging Bull before deciding we had gone far enough and probably needed to start making our way back in the direction of our hotel... considering we were now 4 miles away from our hotel and had no intentions of taking the subway.

Somewhere along our walk from Chelsea Market to the 9/11 Memorial, we had passed what looked like a few great restaurants with outdoor patios that would be perfect for stopping for a mid-afternoon snack. We made it back to one of them {a Mexican restaurant} and settled in for some chips and salsa, water for me, and a drink for my mom. Once we were done eating and we stood up, we both knew we were in trouble.

Y'all, I was positive that my legs were going to fall off. My legs and my feet were so dang tired from all of the walking! We were both limping around who-knows-where in NYC and trying to find a cab or an Uber or anything to take us back to our hotel. We had all but given up home when a cab driver pulled over and I threw myself into the backseat before he could tell us that our hotel was too far away again.

I will stand by my Jack Rogers all day long. I wore them on my wedding day, I've worn them traipsing around Asheville, Charleston, Savannah, Charlotte, Louisville, Nashville, and everywhere in between, and I wore them traveling through Europe. But, in NYC, they did not hold up. My feet had nineteen blisters on them from my Jacks. It's inspired me to find a cute pair of tennis shoes before my next big adventure... because I'm never doing that to my feet again.

That night, we limped downstairs to one of the hotel restaurants overlooking Times Square to have a late dinner. It was well earned - we had walked 25,297 steps and 11.15 miles that day!

They say NYC is the city that never sleeps, but I'm pretty sure they all sleep on Saturday mornings! My mom and I got going super early on Saturday {after our early bedtime on Friday} and we had the city to ourselves. There was nobody at all in Times Square!

We couldn't go to New York without my mom getting a photo in front of Radio City Music Hall {you know, since she was a former Rockette and all... or at least that's what I grew up believing!}

& we couldn't go to NYC without me exploring the Upper East Side and the steps of the Met, a la Gossip Girl.

We walked through Central Park and y'all, we needed to be in workout clothes. Every single person we saw was in some sort of athleisure outfit, was running around, or headed off to a kids baseball game. In our "normal" clothes, we were so out of place! There was plenty of people watching to be had though and I spent most of the time checking out what strollers people were pushing around. True story: they were all UPPABABY strollers. Every single one. I don't think we ever saw anything different.

By this time, we were starving, so we walked through Central Park over to the Upper West Side and grabbed a table at the first place we saw. It was definitely brunch hour by this point and everyone in NYC was up and ready to chow down on some brunch.

Anyone recognize this hotel?

After more wandering and more shopping {without ever finding a single thing to buy}, we headed back to the hotel for a drink and a snack. We caught the end of the Clemson spring game back in our room before going out to dinner. Dinner was... less than impressive. Totally not worth the time or the effort. But, we did catch Times Square one last time at night so that was kind of cool.

Sunday morning, we woke up to typical early April NYC weather. It was about 40 degrees outside and was a little drizzly - a far cry from what our weather had been like Thursday through Saturday! It was a good thing that our plan was just to hit the road to head back home.

Getting back home was a disaster. Our flight took off just fine from New York, but we had to connect through Atlanta to get home. Want to know what happens when you fly through Atlanta in the spring or the summer? You're going to have a delayed or cancelled flight thanks to weather. Sure enough, when we landed, we had texts from both my dad and Patrick that our flight to Columbia had not been delayed but cancelled.

We decided not to rent a car {because we'd be driving straight into the storms} and did whatever we could to reroute ourselves back close to home. In the end, we were scheduled on a flight to Charleston that would arrive around 11:30pm so my dad could pick us up and we could spend the night on Kiawah. Somehow... there was another flight from ATL to Columbia that evening and our luggage made that flight {???}, so Patrick went to the airport to scoop those up for us. Should it be at all concerning that he could just walk into Baggage Claim and grab our bags with nobody noticing?

Whew, all kinds of points to you if you made it to the end of this incredibly long post! Other than the trip back to the south, it was an awesome birthday trip to New York City!

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