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Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

#TBT

In honor of food and summer and Throwback Thursday, I felt like sharing a yummy recipe from my old blog! Yes, I once upon a time wrote a blog that mostly consisted of recipes. *I was in a crazy cooking phase as a brand new newlywed in a tiny apartment kitchen… Ah, those were the days!

But aside from the nostalgia, this is a pretty delicious recipe if I do say so myself! It goes great with a fresh salad, grilled veggies, grilled chicken, or a plate of pasta (for my fellow carb lovers)!

Hope you enjoy and hope you all are having a lovely summer!
What’s your favorite summer dish?

The Red Shoe Chef

We were both surprised at delicious this tasted tonight! Neither of us are crazy about fresh tomatoes usually, but we both devoured this dish!

Tomato Bruschetta

-about 12-15 grape tomatoes

-1 garlic clove

-parmesan cheese

-olive oil

-black pepper

-Italian seasoning

-fresh basil

-Pepperidge Farms frozen garlic bread

Dice the tomatoes, chop garlic, and basil. Blend together in a bowl with olive oil. Add parmesan, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Make sure it’s all blended well and chill in the fridge for at least 15-30 minutes. It can be chilled longer if necessary. Bake bread according to the directions. (My husband has me beat on baking this bread, he gets it perfect every time!) Once the bread is toasted and ready, spread the chilled bruschetta over the top and enjoy!

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Monthly Recap – May

Good grief! I’m sorry this recap post is soooo late. Better late than never, though, right…?

May was an extremely busy month, but it always is for us. Between both of our families we have dozens of birthdays and wedding anniversaries, along with Mother’s Day and any weddings or graduations we may be invited to in the middle of Oklahoma’s infamous tornado season…  Despite the busy schedule, May was a pretty good month!

30 for 30 Progress
During May, I realized that I focused on several of the money related goals from my list. I’ve been doing some freelance work for a few clients and during May, working from home began to take over my schedule. I’m grateful for the work, but I’m also realizing how much time building your own business and serving your clients takes when the separation between work and home is not as clearly defined. I’ve been putting together plans and doing research to officially start my business while also keeping up with my deadlines for my clients. I’m looking forward to getting more done in this area in the months to come. Prayers appreciated though. This is a bit daunting.
I also worked on our budget plan and tried to find more ways to utilize coupons and rebates. The encouraging thing that I realized in doing all of this was that in the first five months of this year, without having “a real job” outside the home (hope you caught the sarcasm…), I brought in a little over $800 of extra change here and there. Nothing steady, but it’s become really helpful and nice to get “surprise” rebate/reward checks! 🙂 

Books Read
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I read Amy Poehler’s, Yes Please book and it was really good! I thought it might be similar to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and it is, but it is also so much more! I have a new appreciation for Amy and who she is as a person. I loved how open and honest she was in her book and how you can see her reflecting on her overall life growth. The book had depth that I wasn’t expecting. I “read” the book by listening to the audiobook, which was quite enjoyable listening to the author read it. Plus, she also had special guests read portions of the book, so it’s a great listen! I want to buy the hardcopy because I would love to jot down several good quotes to remember. Read it. It’s good. 😉 

Fitness
Ok, here’s the thing. I’m one of those people who rarely gets sick, but when I do…it’s bad! I noticed I had a sore throat for a few days that wouldn’t go away. I thought it might be strep, so we went to the doctor. It ended up being tonsillitis. Long story short, I ended up missing several workouts and got off of my workout routine. So my fitness progress took a little bit of a hit this month. 😦

Travel
No travel this month…

Watched
2015-04-06 23.09.11-1I watched a lot of season finales in May! Mad Men had to be the most memorable season finale, though. My husband and I are big Mad Men fans and have watched the series all the way through. It’s one of the few shows that we both “watch” without being off and on our phones or just having it play in the background… When the last episode aired, we both had different reactions to it. Most of the time, I can’t stand good shows, movies, books, or stories ending. I want them to go on forever because I love staying in those worlds. Sometimes I’m not a fan of endings because it’s telling that the writers didn’t know quite how to tie up all the loose ends, but I have to say that the writers for Mad Men did a fantastic job! I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the ending. My husband was not so excited, he was left kind of miffed for some reason… But to each his own. If you haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy time traveling through Mad Men, I highly recommend it! 

Listened
As I mentioned above, I listened to a few audiobooks this month. I’ve been trying to catch up on my book list and the most efficient and realistic way for me to do that is to listen to audiobooks. Having worked in the publishing industry, I understand that there is a lot of debate and valid reasons as to whether audiobooks “count” as reading or not… I tend to approach is as another method to consume a story. Personally, I don’t have as much time to sit down and read a book. Unfortunately, I tend to fall asleep and loose my spot… #KeepinItReal
I listened to Yes, Please by Amy Poehler and then began reading The Girl on the Train. I’m planning on writing Pepper’s Bookshelf review posts on both, soon! Stay tuned!

Memorable Moments
Family Celebration
May is chock full of opportunities to get together as a family! Since there are so many birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, we decided to just pick one day to celebrate everything! We all went over to my aunt’s house and celebrated two birthdays, two anniversaries, and Mother’s Day. It seemed like almost everyone got a card or gift, and then we also had everyone’s favorite desserts.
Since it was May in Oklahoma, we expected a few tornadoes, but this year had to be one of the most memorable tornadoes. Flooded StreetThankfully we didn’t experience any damage or have any close calls where we live, but the internet went crazy with #Tigernado. Read more here to find out more of why, but it was probably one of the most unusual storm days we’ve had… Along with the tornadoes, we had record breaking rainfall which caused flooding around the state. Thankfully, though we are now out of a long drought!
We celebrated our four year anniversary this year! It’s crazy to think that we’ve already been together that long, somedays it feels like we just tied the knot and other days, it feels like we’ve been married forever. It was such a good day! Read more here.
Two more milestones happened this month: we’ve officially been homeowners for two years and I left the corporate world a year ago. Time is just flying by so fast!

This Made My Day
Who I Carried Today
I had a guest writer on my blog this month! Memorial Day is an important holiday in our home. I had already planned on writing a post on how I’ve come to view the day and what it means to me. With my husband being a former Marine, I knew he was planning on remembering the day in his own way, but when he came home, he surprised me by asking if he could write a blog post to share his thoughts on Memorial Day. I was a bit surprised, but also excited that he wanted to share. If you knew my husband, the adage “still waters run deep” fits him perfectly. He tends to be a deep and internal thinker, so I love when he opens up to share those thoughts. He’s an excellent writer and I was so encouraged that so many people loved his post! His single post has been the most viewed post on my page so far. I’m pretty proud of him!

Monthly Moral
This month, “grace” was the dominant theme in my day. I began to feel like I’d failed at life or that I would never get caught up from being sick and getting behind on a lot of my projects and daily tasks. I was feeling so discouraged and overwhelmed. When I stepped back and looked at the situation or what was bogging me down, I was reminded to give myself grace. I am not a robot, life happens, I may not even have enough time in the day to tackle my mountain of tasks, but it’s ok. It’s not the end of the world, it will eventually get done. But just because I didn’t get it all done, all in a day, or all perfectly, does not mean that I’m a failure. It’s a challenge to hold onto that mindset, but I’m working on it.

Honor Memorial Day.

I know the title of this post sounds like a command, or just a statement instead of the normal “well-wishing” that we usually do for calendar “holidays.” It even sounds strange to call Memorial Day a holiday. Because, when you really think about why we commemorate this day, it’s not like other holidays.

I feel like in this era of social media, constant access to information, and living in a society of non-stop online consumption, it’s easy to gloss over days like today. I sometimes envy my grandparent’s generation because of how much simpler, but richer life used to be. Memorial Day has become commercialized, a three day weekend for barbecues and burgers, going to the lake, wearing red, white, and blue, shopping sales at the mall, and even buying cars! But that’s not what it’s for and when it’s cheapened to sales and burgers, it’s like selling t-shirts at a funeral. Memorial Day is not the same as Veteran’s Day, nor is it a day to memorialize anything and everything. It’s a day set aside to remember the men and women who didn’t come home from Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, Vietnam, Iwo Jima, and countless other wars and battles. These men and women served our country with everything they had, giving their lives so we can live freely.

I don’t come from a military family and I don’t know anyone personally that lost their life serving their country. I grew up in a conservative home that stressed patriotism, respect for our military, and an appreciation for history, so I thought I understood what Memorial Day was about. But after marrying my husband, I saw Memorial Day in a very different way.

My husband served as a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps before I met him. IMG_1786He served two tours, one to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. My husband has a warrior’s heart. He loved serving his country, being part of a brotherhood, and all that life as a Marine entailed. He misses it. While my husband and I were dating, we would go to weddings together and I got to meet some of his fellow Marines. They are an interesting group to watch. They can be loud, boisterous, rowdy, but also quiet, pensive, reserved, and extremely respectful to others, but especially to each other. They remember the brothers they lost. They don’t forget, they’re faithful beyond the end. This ethos was further exemplified when my husband and I went to the National Museum of the Marine Corps on our honeymoon. Walking through the history of our nation’s wars and battles with a Marine you know personally, moves you. And that was only one museum for one branch of the military. IMG_1773Seeing that kind reverence and respect is powerful. It changed my view of our fallen servicemen and days like today. It makes days like today personal. Like I mentioned before, I don’t know anyone personally that died serving their country, but I know my husband, and his loss is personal and deserving of respect.

We need to respect the fallen. We need to remember their sacrifice. We need to support and stand by their families and fellow servicemen. We need to take a moment to notice the veterans and military families around us and respect their day to remember. Don’t feel guilty for enjoying a three day weekend or getting to spend time with friends and family, but don’t make the day just about the surface, commercial, shallow stuff. Honor and remember the fallen.

Honor today.

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Wall of Marine-Navy Deaths on Iwo Jima in the National Museum of the Marine Corps. There’s an EGA (eagle, globe, & anchor) for every Marine and an anchor for every Navy Corpsman that was lost.

French Toast, Cheesecake, & A Theatre All To Ourselves…

I would have gotten this post out earlier if I hadn’t been knocked off my feet and sick on the couch for nearly a week with tonsillitis! But four years ago this month, I married my Mr. Wonderful!

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Photo by Photos by Esther

This year’s wedding anniversary is one of my favorites so far in our short four years! We had a fantastic day:

The weather was drizzly and rainy all day, but it reminded us of our honeymoon and the almost daily rainstorm that would come in the afternoons in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We started our day off with a late brunch to Ihop. The morning after our wedding, we ate at Ihop, so this made it especially enticing to enjoy some hot breakfast food on a rainy day! I ventured out of my normal short stack with a side of bacon to try the brioche French toast with cinnamon roll filling, and OH MY GOODNESS! It was amazing! Plus, the bacon, hash browns, and coffee were delicious too. By the way, did you know that calories are non-existent on wedding anniversaries?

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Photo by Photos by Esther

After our scrumptious brunch, we headed over to our local wine shop and placed an order for our favorite bottle of wine from the vineyard where we got married. We buy a bottle every year and drink it the following year. We originally started this tradition with our first anniversary. We bought a bottle of wine for our first anniversary in place of saving some of our wedding cake for a year in the freezer. We decided to keep it up, since it’s nice to enjoy on occasion and remember where we got married!

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Pardon the bad lighting and mirror shot…this is just real life.

Later that evening, we got all dressed up and went out to the Cheesecake Factory. We served cheesecake at our wedding instead of a traditional cake and so it seemed fitting to get some fancy cheesecake for dessert, but only after we enjoyed a delicious dinner. My husband always tries something new every time we eat there. I usually stick to my favorite (Crusted Chicken Romano), but I figured since my adventurous palate was successful for brunch that I’d give it a go again. So I opted for a new and delicious dish, the Parmesan-Herb Crusted Chicken! So good! (Can you tell I love food?) We took our cheesecake to-go since we planned to enjoy it with a glass of wine at home later that evening.

Stuffed to brim, we headed to the movie theatre to catch the latest installment of the Avengers (we’re nerdy and we know it *wink). Unfortunately, by the time we got to the theatre, the only available showings by that time were all in 3D (now, we’re not that nerdy…). So, we searched the board for something else that looked mutually interesting. We both have a love of history, so the movie Woman In Gold stood out to us. I had earned enough Shopkick kicks for an AMC gift card, so we only ended up paying the equivalent of one ticket! We walked in early to an empty theatre and picked a spot right in the middle.

I wore my "something blue" bracelet from our wedding day… :)

I wore my “something blue” bracelet from our wedding day… 🙂

We watched ALL the pre-previews and then the previews themselves. We realized that we were going to have the entire theatre to ourselves since no one else had come in, so we settled in and got comfy! The movie was really good! It’s based on a true story and is well played by Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. We both really liked it!

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Snicker’s Cheesecake, Cookie Dough Cheesecake, & Tres Suenos Winery Select White!

Once we got home, we changed into comfy clothes, poured our wine and ate our cheesecake on the couch while watching Seinfeld with a very snuggly Pepper, who was glad to have us home after being in an empty house most of the day. Overall, it was a very enjoyable anniversary!

What are your favorite anniversary traditions?

One year…

A lot’s changed in a year.

One year ago today, I left my job in the corporate world and came home full time. It was a daring choice for both my husband and I, but I’ve never regretted it. We decided that it was best for me to come home full time, since we hardly ever got to see each other with my 8-5 weekly work schedule and his 10 hour late night shifts with odd weekend days. We didn’t have any days that overlapped where we could spend an entire 24 hours off work together. We also wanted to eventually start a family and we had agreed that I would be a stay at home mom whenever that happened. So, despite a lot of people scratching their heads asking “why?” or “are you pregnant?” or “why do you just do blah, blah, blah instead…?” I came home for good.

A year later, I’m thankful for all the lessons I learned from the business and creative world. I learned a lot of useful skills that I am able to apply anywhere in life, such as time management, organization, prioritization, communication, etc. But I also learned a lot of things about myself and my personality that want to improve. Coming home has allowed me to delve a little deeper into understanding those personality traits that were hurdles in my professional career and work on developing them into strengths.

A year later, I’ve found myself feeling more whole and the most grown up I’ve every felt, despite the fact that I no longer wake up before the crack of dawn, wear heels, grab coffee, and go to meetings or have a desk and an office anymore. My life looks very different now, but I no longer feel stuck in a pressure cooker of time or a hamster wheel spun by someone else’s goals or agendas. I struggled to find a balance between the corporate hamster wheel and my own at home. Being home now, I still have a hamster wheel of tasks that never seem to ever be done (I mean seriously, laundry AGAIN?!), but there’s a sense of empowerment, responsibility, and urgency that I never truly felt at a “real” job. My job at home never ends. I don’t really have weekends or even holidays. There’s always something to do, but it’s also far more fulfilling to pour my energy into my family and my home.

In a year, we’ve learned a lot. The biggest challenge and triumph has been to learn to live on one income. And guess what? We’re still alive! *gasp* Now it’s been no cake walk and we’ve stretched our timeline of adjustment way past what we thought, but we’re ok. We’re not destitute, we’re not poor, we still can pay our bills and keep food on the table. We don’t have big shopping adventures, go see the movies every weekend, or eat out every day. But when you really think about, we didn’t need all of that stuff. We’ve been able to spend more time together, awake! We’re no longer ships passing in the night with only a few mutual hours in the week without the other one working. We’re learning to be content with what we have…

Over a year, we’ve been incredibly blessed! We added Pepper to our home and it feels like she’s always been a part of our family! We’ve been able to spend more quality time with family and friends. God has always provided just what we need, when we need it. We’re both physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier this year than we were last year. We’ve strengthened our marriage and our relationship.

I’ve learned a lot over the past year and I still have a lot to learn, but more than anything, I am so thankful to have the opportunity to stay home full time with my husband. My job has never been more busy or more fulfilling.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year holds!

What’s been the most daring life change you’ve done?

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Catch up!

I promise, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth, I’ve just been very busy with freelance projects, had a wedding anniversary, and I’ve been recovering from tonsillitis! Here are all the sketches from last week…

I’m choosing to not beat myself up for having an empty week on the blog… :-/

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