26

First things first, Happy Friday! I am writing this morning from the comforts of my couch on my new iPad, a fantastic birthday gift from my fabulous fiancé! I turned 26 yesterday, meaning that Quarter Century Southern Living isn’t quite as relevant as it was when I first started this blog one year ago. Leave it to me to choose an age and location specific domain.

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Birthdays have a way of showing you how incredibly blessed you are. My soon to be sister-in-law, De, wrote a birthday shoutout post, that in the midst of a stressful morning, made me smile. I also happened to receive an Edible Arrangements bouquet from my friend, Emily. The fact that she would send food over flowers shows how well she knows me.

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Every gift, card, surprise visit, phone call, and text message meant the world to me. One of my best friends from college took home the prize for creativity as she sent me this –

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Which, at first, looked to be a wedding magazine. Again, my friends can read me like a book in that when I opened the front cover, I found this instead –

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I even managed to stay awake past 10:00 PM, contrary to Dan’s romantic card to me.

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Reader Question: What are your plans for the weekend? TGIF!!

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Give Me The Simple Life

“I got no money in my pockets. I got a hole in my jeans”

Let’s be real, as a mid-20s something, cash isn’t always quite expendable. That being said, I’m not complaining. Over the last couple years, I’ve realized how content I am to live a modest and happy lifestyle. My friends and I rarely go ‘all out’ and find that some of our favorite times end up being while we are sitting on our couches, playing ‘Loaded Questions,’ eating homemade pizza, and discussing life’s most important topics, like who will win ‘The Bachelor,’ and what we want for dessert.

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I’ve also found that there happen to be a fair share of affordable options for days and nights out on the town. As the weather warms, my friends and I love to make trips to the beach. We spend the morning making sandwiches and snacks and filling our coolers with drinks and ice. By the time the afternoon rolls around, you can usually find an intense game of sand volleyball or football taking place.

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We also have some really cute and quaint shopping areas around us. I love to spend the day window shopping and gathering gift ideas. I am usually able to find a cute bookstore or café in these shopping strands as well, which completes the entire trip. I’m now craving specialty coffee and an afternoon spent reading my new novel.

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Some of our best friends just brought home a new dog, meaning that Nola has a lot of puppy play dates in her future. We have our fair share of bars and restaurants around us that allow dogs. Meaning, I can sip a mojito and play fetch at the same time. Score!

ImageLast but not least, I love arcades and bowling. So, I have the same hobbies as a 15 year old boy. Whatever. Dan and I end up spending way too much money for him to win me a new stuffed animal in the claw machine, but otherwise have found this to be a fun and inexpensive way to spend an evening. Image

Reader Question: What is your favorite inexpensive way to spend the day?

Live in the Moment

I am a to-do-list kind of person. At any given time, I have an assortment of personal and professional TDLs waiting to be conquered. I love finishing a project and crossing it off my list. In a lot of ways, I appreciate the feeling of accomplishment and organization imbedded in this way of life. Yet recently I have realized the flaw of this habit, that being, I often live in the future rather than in the moment. I am so focused on what needs to be done, or what is next, that I miss simply appreciating the present moment and the beauty it brings.

ImageRather than waiting for a day, or week, or month, or new year to commit to living in the moment, I realize that there truly is no better time than today. This weekend, I decided to forgo the to go list and to do what I wanted instead.

I enjoyed the beautiful weather and relaxed with my friends at a baseball game.

ImageI spontaneously opted to grab appetizers and a drink over pajamas and a movie.

ImageAnd I enjoyed a night out with some of our best friends.

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Reader Question: What do you find best helps you to live in the moment!?

The Pursuit of Passion

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”-Steve Jobs

Okay, it’s time to get real. In the midst of my happy-go-lucky posts, I relish in the opportunity to write about something that has been weighing on my mind. These posts leave me feeling vulnerable, but, if I’m being honest, that’s one of my favorite things about writing.

Lately I have spent a lot of time considering my passions in life. Aka, my inner dialogue reads something like this: “What am I doing with my life and what do I want to do with my life?” For some reason, I have always had trouble articulating this. I’m 25 years old, nearing 26, yet this probably started at least 15 years ago, or whenever I was first given an assignment in school to write and present what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” In 4th grade, this assignment wasn’t nearly as anxiety producing as it was as a senior in college, with an undergraduate degree in psychology, and no clue of what the future would hold, and even worse, no clue of what I wanted it to hold.

Well, I think I am starting to figure it out. About time.

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When I allow my mind to wander, it usually leads me to…

Writing. This, right here, is what I love to do. I have also written a novel, which hopefully one day, I will find the courage to attempt publishing.

Working Out. I am one of the rare breeds that loves to work out. Dare I say it, I enjoyed 2-a-days during cross country and soccer season. I may not offer the same intimidation as Jillian Michaels, but I would love to help others become passionate about finding a healthy lifestyle.

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Dogs. If you ask me, there are few greater things in life than dogs.  I’m the girl who has to stop people to ask if I can pet their dog, and I most certainly have a ‘dog voice,’ you know, the mode you go into when you see a dog. Or maybe you don’t know, and I’m just crazy. Either way, dogs are amazing.

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Baking. Baking is and always has been great stress relief for me. Something about preparing a loaf of banana bread allows my mind to wander to such a happy place.

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Family and Friends. While I would love to ultimately build a career in which I could pursue my passions, I know that life is about so much more than what you do for a living. My family and friends bring me incredible joy. I know that regardless of the path I choose, game nights, family dinners, football tailgates, and weekend getaways will always be part of my life. And for that, I am grateful.

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I realize that this was a much longer post than usual. Thanks for bearing with me!

Reader Question: What are your passions?

Food, Family, Friends & Football

As mentioned last week, Dan and I decided to host a Super Bowl gathering at our place. If you ask me, food, family, friends, and football is quite the winning combination. 

ImageAside from our run with Nola, the majority of my Sunday was spent planning the Super Bowl menu, grocery shopping, with a few impulse buys of course, and prepping food for the game.
ImageFor our main course, we had build your own paninis, no surprise there. We offered a variety of cheeses- pepper jack, cheddar, mozzarella, and brie. We also had an assortment of deli meats for the meat eaters in the group, aka, everyone except me. Our friends brought pizza rolls, fruit and dip, chips, and pico de gallo. Do you think we had enough food?
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Naturally, no meal is complete without a little dessert. I figured that for the Super Bowl, you better go big or go home, hence the ultimate decision to bake Texas Sheet Cake. Texas Sheet Cake has always been a family favorite. My recipe comes from my mom’s 1973 ‘First Ladies’ cookbook, if  it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 
 
Ingredients for the Cake:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
*Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a saucepan, place butter, cocoa, and water; bring to a boil. Add dry ingredients, stirring constantly. Then add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Bake on greased cookie sheet for 16-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Frost while hot.
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Ingredients for the Frosting:
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 box powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons milk
*Mix and spread on hot sheet cake
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The frosting on this cake is hands down my favorite part. It tastes like fudge, ah-mazing.
 
Reader Questions: Did you do anything for the Super Bowl? What was the best food you ate this weekend?