Friday, August 15, 2014

Pickles, Hold the Vinegar

This post is late. But I made pickles. I learned this method/recipe from a fabulous woman that lives in our antique town who knows how to do all sorts of stuff that my great grandmother would have done on a daily basis (i.e. milk cows, use every single part of a chicken, make butter, make cheese, basically homestead the crap out of everything) and loves to teach younger women how to do it all. 

*Please Note: This is hit and miss, so, as with most how-tos on the internet, please use good judgement...if the pickles smell or taste weird-DO NOT EAT THEM. 

grape leaves (whatever it is that makes pickles crunchy occurs naturally in the grape leaf)
2 quarts of purified water
bunch of fresh dill
1/4 C pickling salt
4-5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
little cucumbers

1. Pour in purified water and mix in the pickling salt (regular salt makes the pickles mushy...ew)
2. Line the bottom of a large jar with grape leaves (wash the leaves first)
3. Cut the ends (just the tips) off of the cucumbers and put them in the brine (doing this first helps hold the grape leaves down because they like to float up)
4. Peel and gently mash garlic cloves and add them to the brine
5. Chop the ends of the stems off of the dill and break the stems in several places, releasing the fragrance. Chop a little, then add the chopped dill and the bunch with broken stems to the brine
6. Make sure the future-pickles are covered by the brine (use a bowl or something weighted if needed to keep them submerged) and cover top of container with cheesecloth or thin dish towel and leave them out on the counter, out of the sun for at least three days (naturally extremes in temperature are not good for this process)
7. There will be "scum" that grows on top of the brine...scoop it out each day
8. On the third day, if you prefer a more cucumbery flavored pickle, after you scoop off the "scum," your pickles are ready. You can slice them or leave them whole. If you prefer a more pickle flavored pickle, just leave them in the brine for a couple more days. (I do five days total but then the "scum" starts to really sick me out and I can't take it any longer). 

Comment below with any questions or let me know how yours turn out!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Farewell

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am leaving the wonderful job that I've had for the past seven years. In fact, today is my last day. My boss has always said that he hopes that anyone who works here looks back on the job as the best one they have ever had, and in many ways, I think it's going to be hard to top.

This job has been fabulous...I've been working for the BEST university in the entire world-a private Christian University in NWA [I drank the Koolaid, ya'll-even though I don't work there anymore, I'm pretty sure I'll never stop recruiting] and I think I could have stayed forever. But in July of 2013,  I felt like the Lord told me that this would be my last year working in the admissions office. 

My "job" was basically to serve students and parents figure out the whole college thing....and I often found myself in the middle of helping them figure out very difficult parts of their lives, like adjusting to college life after the loss of a parent, or balancing school and taking care of a baby as a single parent. Or making difficult financial decisions. 

I have seen the best in people, the worst of people, and found myself in some pretty ridiculous situations. I had a mom tell me with pride that her son had broken up with his girlfriend because she put his hand on her boob (he was sitting right next to her and this was the first time I had met either of them). I had a dad yell at me for a good half hour because his daughter's ACT score wasn't high enough for an academic scholarship. I had a mom make a quilt for me when she found out I was getting married. I was promised homemade salsa grown out of a family's garden [I later prayed that they would forget to deliver on their promise after they told me what they use in their compost pile. That prayer was answered]. I had a parent send me a plant after her son closed his application to attend another university. I had a man call to talk about going back to college and subsequently tell me that "I looked like a girl who wore my hair up during the day and let it down for her man at night." I had a student take off his shirt in the cathedral during a tour to show me his tattoo and his mom spent quite a long time touching his fleshy back explaining the meaning of each image to me (it reminded me of bread dough). I've had baked goods galore show up on my desk from parents after new-student move-in. I've read some of the most bizarre essays on the planet and seen some email addresses that were clearly not thought through before creation. So many things that I remember and even more that I've forgotten. I basically missed the opportunity to write a very entertaining book. 

As cliche as it sounds, I can't even begin to describe the blessings that I have experienced working there. And the people that I've worked with really are like a second family. There is a lot of turnover admissions offices in general, but in a rare stroke of luck, I've worked with the same group of people for two years in a row. Of all the teams I worked with over the past seven years, this one was THE.BEST by far.

A month or so ago, we all got together for a going away dinner since several of us are going off to Duke for grad school, one moving to Tennessee, on starting a teaching career, and me moving into children's ministry at our church [talk about the Lord using the least likely...but that's another story entirely]. There are several little traditions that we have when saying goodbye, like hanging our desk name plate and magnetic name tag from the ceiling (yes, it looks horrible) but this group of my favorites got creative on me. Since I lasted seven years (5 years past the normal "life-span" in admissions), they decided to do something a little more elaborate. As a farewell, they surprised me and all got tattoos. 

I've always had a hard time closing the door on a good season and throwing myself completely into the next. And the past seven years has been a particularly amazing season. But, as impossible as it may seem in the transition, I have to remember that there has yet to be a new season that hasn't been better than the last. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014


We've lived in our antique house for six years and besides putting the privacy fence around the back yard and painting a few rooms, we haven't really done much to it. Apparently we're trying to make up for lost time because we've had my dad slaving away over the past couple of months (hello tax refund), knocking out projects left and right. He single-handedly built us a beautiful new deck, put a fence around the garden, fixed a hole in our front porch, and replaced half our roof (Mr. F did help with the roof..... #mancard ). 

Long story short-my dad is a stud (and the one responsible for the most popular post on this blog thanks to google image searches and pinterest pins.)

This project frenzy may have something to do with the fact that I'm leaving my full time position of the last seven years in a little over one week (one week-good grief). I'm trying to get a bunch of stuff done before we have to adjust to a smaller income. We've worked on paying off our debts the past few years (we're not done but we're close enough) and because of that, we can live on less. And I'd like to do things a little bit differently than we have. We may have a smaller income, but I'll have more TIME. And with that time, I have plans (I'm excited to kick off said plans with a much-needed deep cleaning and organizing of our antique house). There are plans to work out regularly. To learn how to sew. To volunteer at a local crisis pregnancy center. To spend less-rushed time with my friends. Plans to spend more time in the Word. To clog up the world wide web with more blog posts. More time cooking. More time doing the things that I feel like I was built to do. More time being me. 

I'm sure I've romanticized it but I'm convinced that I'll be a better version of myself than I've been in a long, long time-a better representative of Jesus, a better wife, a better sister, a better friend, etc. -but the bottom line is that I'm so thankful for this new season. I've been given a gift-and I can't wait to live it. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tip: Mascara

I think the cosmetic gurus suggest replacing your mascara every three to four months. Hygiene. I get it. I typically just wait until it's so clumpy that it's not usable before I'll replace it. Because I'm lazy (and by cosmetic guru standards completely gross). I use 'Big Sexy' by Urban Decay, and it's $20/tube. If I replaced it as often as suggested, I'd spend $80/year on mascara, which isn't that much in the grand scheme, but kind of ridiculous at the same time.

So, I stretch it. Heat up some water, drop your mascara tube in, and wait a few seconds. BOOM. No more clumps. Mascara-life expectancy just doubled.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Relationship With Tequila

It all started when my friend Melissa sent me a text that read: "How do you feel about tequila?" 

I mean.....

I didn't drink in high school or college (except for the time that I spontaneously went to Mexico with some friends during Spring Break of my freshman year -without my passport- and I had a tequila sunrise) and I hadn't really worked out my feelings. So, Melissa and I went to a tequila tasting going on at a local restaurant that would help tequila and I have the DTR that had been postponed due to my rule-following-adolescence (again-with the exception of that Mexico thing...that was really out of character for me...Oh, hey Mom and Dad! Did I ever tell you about that? Whoops)

[fish tacos]
[chile rellano]
[mole rabbit tamale] LAWDY, LAWDY this was delicious.
[layered popsicle]
In the end, I didn't learn anything I didn't already suspect. Food and I are BFF. FF. FF. FF. 
Tequila and I? I mean, I don't hate it and I don't love it. It exists. I exist. We occasionally travel in the same social circles, and I'll politely nod in acknowledgement, but that's about it.
That was one heckuva DTR.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Should There Be Recipes for Salad?

I feel weird about posting a salad recipe. I mean, you just put a bunch of stuff that you like together and eat it. So, here is a list of things that I like to put together and eat:

Lettuce (Spinach in my preference, but Spring Mix will work)
Feta Cheese
Almonds (or pecans)
Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Backroads

Small towns.
Delicious burgers and shakes.
Beautiful scenery.
Sometimes it's more fun to take the backroads.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The One With Vacation and My Creepy Hair

Mr F. and I just got back from a trip to Arizona to visit my brother and his family. It was a great trip-naturally over too soon-and I somehow didn't end up with very many pictures [or a single picture of my beautiful sister in law. Or Mr F. and I together]. Evidence of a good time, I guess. 

  1. As we were sitting in the airport waiting to board our plane to AZ, we got a FaceTime call from my SIL. I recently got a haircut and decided to get bangs. This was new for my four year old nephew, so after talking for a few minutes, my nephew asked, "Annie, why is your hair so creepy?" Given the picture above, he has a point. But, the bangs are gonna stick around for a bit. 
  2. We spent the first two days and one night at the Sheraton Wild Horse Hotel and Spa. Time by the pool. Sleeping in. A couples massage at the spa. A pedicure for me. Food and drink on demand. Started vacation off well. [We did have a ridiculous experience at a restaurant at the resort, Ko'Sin. Aside from the horrible food that we waited an hour and a half for and the alarmingly sweaty manager we talked to, the waiter carefully put full place settings in front of all of us. Including my nephew and my almost-two-year-old niece. FULL place settings. As in, SHARP STEAK KNIVES in front of children. We couldn't stop laughing. It was all so bizarre.]
  3. THE FOOD. My SIL is a fantastic cook and there were so.many.restaurants there. A few favorites were The Keg, Joe's Farm Grill, Maricopa Taco Stand, and naturally, we got our In & Out Fix. Mr F. really loved Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. It was red meat and carbohydrate week on accident. Carne Asada Tacos. Steak and potatoes. Burgers and fries. [I picked up a sinus infection on the way home and had to go to the doctor...where I was weighed. DO NOT WEIGH PEOPLE AFTER VACATION, DOCTORS! IT SHOULD BE A LAW.]
  4. Nephew and niece time. I cannot get enough of these kids. They call me "Annie" and Mr F. "Uncles." It's the cutest thing in the world. Also, now, when anyone references 'Frozen,' Wreck it Ralph,' 'Monsters University,' or 'Despicable Me 2' we'll know what they're talking about. 
  5. Family time. Aside from my brother, SIL, and the kids, we got to see my Aunt LaNora and my cousins and their families. My heart is full [and hopefully still healthy despite the accidental red meat week and my summer of McDonalds cheeseburgers.]

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sometimes I Move My Body


Sometimes, I feel motivated. Not motivated enough to actually eat well for an entire day or leave my house after getting home from work to go to the gym, but motivated enough to roll out the mini-trampoline and pop in my new (to me) Tracy Anderson Total Body Mini-Trampoline Workout DVD (available on TA's site or amazon).

Mini-trampolines can totally be en vogue. It's not all leg warmers, scrunchies, and leotards. This, my friends, is the year of our Lord 2014.

Before getting into the jumping, the workout starts out with a quick pep talk and some stretching followed by a routine that uses the mini-trampoline for stability during leg and ab exercises.

  • 51 (ish) minutes of non-stop moving (well, at least she's moving the whole time...I needed frequent "water drinking/breath catching breaks" but hopefully that will improve over time)
  • Working out AT HOME. I can dress how I want and spaz out as needed. 

  • She doesn't talk you through the exercises or the transitions, you just have to watch and hope that you're getting the moves right.
  • I need a mini-trampoline that is a little less mini.

Honestly, I had to tell myself not to stress out trying to match her move for move the first couple of times. Give myself some time to learn the routine and build up my endurance for the 1.6 million leg lifts that she does prior to actual bouncing-on-the-trampoline-time.

Bottom line: I was plum WORN OUT when I was done. It's a keeper. It met my standard for being added to my own "sometimes-motivated-to-work-out-at-home" collection-I didn't hate it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lucky 13

  1. Grey cardigan with pink trim: I didn't like how this fit and I wasn't a fan of the pink lining.
  2. Multi-color print tunic: This fit really well, and Mr. F loved it, but I couldn't do the print. Way too busy. My camera couldn't even figure out what to focus on when I took the picture.
  3. Navy, white, and coral tunic: This was really boxy and I didn't really like the pattern.
  4. Navy and cream striped 3/4 sleeve top: I liked this top, but it was shorter than I would have liked. I also have several striped tops like this already. 
  5. Leather purse turned computer bag: Props to my stylist. I feel like this bag was one of those gifts that you don't really flat out ask for, but the Lord sends your way because He even cares about the little things and likes to make you happy (like the exercise ball that I won as a door prize recently-I had been thinking about buying one to sit on at work for a while and kept putting off picking one up). Mr F surprised me with a MacBook Air for Christmas this year, and I've been looking for a computer bag that's more "purse" than computer bag. I wanted a strap on the top. Enough room for my computer, the external drive, the power cord, and a few books. I had been eyeing this one on Etsy but couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger because I could't decide on a color. And then this perfect bag showed up in my fix. Lucky me. 

Sign up to get your first fix here (and I get a little summthin summthin out of the deal) or click on my StitchFix "button" on the left-hand side of the blog.
Disclosure:  I am not affiliated in any way with Stitch Fix. I wasn't compensated and was not asked to write this review. I purchased the items with my own money (and any applicable referral credit). 
Referral Link included.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure: Back Pain and Kindess

This will be a long post, so I'm offering a "choose your own adventure" option. If you like long, descriptive reading, choose Section A, Section B, Section C, and Section D. If you're more of a "cut to the chase" kind of reader, Section A, Section, C and Section E will be all you need (and I hope reading to this point hasn't been too taxing).

Section A:

Last Tuesday, I went to the chiropractor to get an adjustment because I was standing kinda crooked after I tweaked my back COUGHING (my lower back is a sissy).

Section B:

After the adjustment, I went back to work, sat in on a meeting, and headed home to ice my lower back because I was told that I might be a bit sore from the adjustment. I had to head back to work for a special event so I got up, brushed my teeth, refreshed my makeup, and headed out the door.
I started down our porch stairs and as I stepped off the last stair, INTENSE pain shot up and down my back and into my legs and I slowly sank to the ground-I couldn't stand up. I was suddenly hot and sweating, everything was dim, and as I was telling Mr. F what I needed him to do, I heard myself talking and I sounded so far away. Mr F. got me up on my feet and started inching me back up the stairs and into the house. I started to feel a little bit better, so, because I'm a friggin idiot, I told him I would be fine and asked him to help me get to the car so I could get to work, which he did, because I'm also stubborn and super difficult.

When I got into the car seat, I had my first muscle spasm in my lower back.

Hell. on. earth.

My entire lower back basically seized for about ten seconds and I yelled (only one cuss word) through the entire thing because the pain was so intense.  I immediately called my office and let them know that I wasn't going to make it in and we began the process of getting me back inside.
The spasms (and the now cuss-word-free, begging-Jesus-for-relief yelling) kept coming every two or three minutes and they were absolutely awful. I felt so bad for Mr. F. He was so helpful but I knew it was hard to see me in so much pain. He asked me to please try to scream into a pillow because he was worried that someone was going to call the cops (and I wasn't quite "appropriately dressed" for visitors because I was so hot and uncomfortable). We put an ice pack and a bag of frozen corn on my lower back and slowed the spasms down a bit. We called friends and family and asked them to pray. And after about an hour, four ibuprofen, and guzzling a glass of adult grape juice, the spasms stopped and my body partially relaxed. My lower back was tight all night, making it hard to sleep, but I went back to the chiropractor the next day to have ultrasound therapy (supposed to be good for inflammation) and lay on pelvic blocks so that my own body weight could initiate any adjustments that needed to be made.

Section C:

Long story short, my body didn't take to the adjustment very well. It apparently kind of liked the way it was and tried to go back, pinching a nerve in the process.

Section D:

And after all of that, I can't express how thankful I am.
That my husband was there when it happened and able to take care of me the next day.
That he's down with the "for better for worse" "sickness and health" deal.
For a boss that told me to stay home.
For an adjustment of another sort. A forced pause that allows for rest and spending quality time with the Lord.
For a coworker who brought me a brownie and a get well card from the office.
For coworkers who were willing to step in and help with my responsibilities while I'm away.
For friends and family who prayed for relief. For healing. For peace.
That God created our bodies with the ability to endure pain and with the capacity to heal and recover.
That Jesus is merciful. Gentle. And willing and able to heal.
For friends that brought beautiful flowers.
For friends that brought dinner. Or lunch. Comfort in the form of soup or banana bread.
For my parents and my sister in law, who called to check on me every day.
For my husband in general. Ya'll -he's above and beyond what I could have ever imagined for myself.

Section E:

People were really nice and stuff and I'm getting better.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Valentine's Day Recap

Valentine's Day 2014 was spent pretty much like every other Valentine's Day
since our first as a married couple in 2009. 

Strange valentines exchanged. He had flowers delivered to me at work because, 
as much as I'd like to be all -

"that is such a waste of money and I don't NEED flowers. It's a ridiculous holiday
created by greeting card companies and I don't need flowers 
to prove to me or anyone else that you love me" 

-I'm not. I'll own it. 

Dinner at home (I don't like crowds). Floor picnic. A movie.

Except, this year, I wore high heels, a dress, and red lipstick while I was cooking dinner. 
(And then quickly changed into PJs to eat and watch the movie.) 
He appreciated the gesture.

Creepy valentine numero uno: "My heart I serve to you." Ew.
Creepy valentine number two. Sweet sentiment, no?
Thai yellow chicken curry and jasmine rice. Thanks for the sauce, Trader Joe's!