Our Current Favorite Low-Carb/Keto Meals



M and I have been on a low-carb/keto (pronounced like key-toe) journey for a little over a month now. So far, we are really liking this lifestyle and think it could be pretty sustainable moving forward.

I have many thoughts and comments (and rebuttals) on the keto diet and can combine them all in a "why we chose to do keto" post if anyone is interested. However, for now, I'll just stick with the food. (duh!)

Even if you aren't following keto strictly (or as I like to call what we do "lazy keto") these meals might appeal to you!

-Steak with a veggie (broccoli, cauliflower mac & cheese, green beans, brussels sprouts)
-Taco/burrito bowls (all the fixings in tacos without the shell)
-Beef Stroganoff
-Taco Soup
-Fathead Pizza
-Buffalo Chicken Taquitos
-Breakfast for dinner (sausage or bacon, scrambled eggs w/cheese)
-Mozzarella-stuffed meatballs w/sauce (we use Rao's marinara

Do you have any favorite low-carb meals you enjoy? I'd love to know!

8 Things I Don't Wear



Primer. I don't typically wear any sort of face or makeup primer. I think most of them are a waste of time and money. :) So I forgo them completely!

White clothing. In general I cannot be trusted to wear white (or really even light colored) clothing. It's literally a matter of hours until it is covered in stains.

Bracelets. I wish I could, because I always see pretty ones. However I have very freckly, fleshy forearms and I feel all bracelets just look weird.

Watches. For the same reasons above. Plus they always kind of hurt my wrist bone.

Sleeveless shirts or dresses. With the exception of poolside or beachside, you won't catch me with bare arms.

Peasant shirts. This style has never worked for me. So, I just avoid it.

Dangly earrings. I just love a good, large stud. :) Plus dangly earrings always get caught in my hair and make noise when I move.

Sunscreenless skin. Okay, okay I kind of cheated here. But seriously, you'll never catch me without any sunscreen on. NEVER!

Post idea from Life According to Steph


The First

Oddly enough the hullabaloo of Mother's Day hasn't brought on the shedding of tears and sadness that I anticipated. I realize that the actual day is nothing more than a "Hallmark Holiday" designed to make people spend money proving their relationships to other people. The sadness doesn't come with the buying of gifts or the Mother's Day commercials like I thought it might.

However...

There is an ache deep down that I know is probably grief. I grieve that at 32 years old, I had to watch my mother slowly deteriorate to the point that she was unable to use her arms or legs. I grieve for the months of mental anguish my mother had when she thought everyone was ignoring her and forgetting about her. (This wasn't the case the but the disease had started to rob her of her short-term memory and logical reasoning abilities.) I grieve for the trips my mother told me about longing to take as she lay in her hospital bed and let me feed her. I grieve for my future birthdays and Christmases and phone calls for advice that will never again be had with her.

I regret that we didn't spend more time celebrating the now. We had no idea that she'd die less than a year from her diagnosis. We had no idea that we didn't have more time with her. I would have done so many things differently. I would have focused more on the "now" and making good memories rather than always focusing on the future and when she would be over this cancer scare. I regret that I felt relieved after she passed away even though I know it's normal after an ordeal like the last few weeks of her life. I regret that I didn't do more.

I hate the disease that whittled a half-marathoner in the prime of her life down to someone who was completely reliant upon others for even the most mundane of tasks like scratching her nose or drinking. I hate the "treatments" that big Pharma recommends and the false hope they bring. I hate dealing with medical insurance people and healthcare financial people. I really freaking hate cancer.

It's therapeutic for me to write these words and I apologize if they are hard for you to read. I've been seeing a grief counselor since after she passed away and have been dealing with some of these things. However, some of these things take more than just counseling to get over. Some take time. Some take prayer. Some take all three.

One of the last lucid conversations I had with my mom was when she was talking to me about working hard all her life to save money so she could travel one day. That one day never came. She worked hard to save money for nothing. I've made this my resolve. I will continue to work hard but I will also take time NOW, while I am healthy, to travel. To see the places she wanted to see. To do the things she wanted to do. To make sure that some of her last words of advice to me won't fall on deaf ears.

All of this to say...if your mothers are still on Earth call them. Send them a card. Text them. Hug them if you can. If you can talk to your mother this Mother's Day, consider yourself blessed. And to all of you who are mothers, Happy Mother's Day.

Updates and a Square Living Room

This is a photo heavy post...so you've been warned. I feel good with the progress we've made in our house in the 5 weeks or so we've been there. I'm still struggling a bit with the living room. More on that below. First, I'll show you the dining room area as it is now.




We want to add two chairs with arms to the ends of the dining table and a rug under it. But I haven't found the perfect one yet. Also, I will replace the rectangle mirror above the server with a round or oval one...but again, haven't found the perfect mirror yet.

I like this area even though we haven't really used it yet. :) I know that will come as we get closer to the holidays and start to do more entertaining.

And now for the problem child. (and I say that most lovingly) Our living room is off the kitchen (which we love) but it's one big square. The left side of the square is a bar into the kitchen. So it's virtually unusable from a furniture perspective. We will eventually put backed bar stools there but for now we don't have anything. The most logical place for our two couches and two accents chairs are on the walls and corners. It provides the maximum space free, tv visibility and best placement for traffic flow. Unfortunately, it also feels little sterile because we haven't figured out the coffee table/ottoman situation yet.




Let's think about these like a square. Bottom side of the square is the first couch with the gray and gold art. The right side of the square is the other couch with the art shelf above it. The top of the square is the fireplace/window/tv wall with the accent chairs. And the left side is the bar and kitchen entrance. You can get an idea of that area a little in this picture:



M and I tried moving our couches in a number of different configurations including away from the walls, flanking the fireplace, etc. and each way it inhibits traffic flow. It's important to us to have maximum seating (at least 8) in our living room for entertaining...so we don't want to just get rid of a couch.

So this is where you...both of my dedicated readers...can help. Any suggestions? Ideas? Pins that you think might give me ideas? I'm all ears!

Slot Machines and Bicycle Seats

This past weekend was a little insane. Well, for me at least. I typically have few plans on the weekends and I rarely travel a lot. However, this weekend included both. (I work Sunday through Thursday so my weekends are Friday and Saturday.)



Thursday night - Friday night
M and I left Thursday evening (well more like afternoon) and drove 3 hours from SC into the NC mountains. The next 24 hours were spent eating, gambling, losing at gambling, shopping and walking around in the quaint little "downtown" area of Cherokee



Best Parts - eating carbs (M and I temporarily suspended our keto diets for this weekend)/being with my in-laws
Worst Part - gambling (it's just not my scene and it's smoky and loud and gross)

Saturday
I got up early Saturday and drove from NC to TN so that I could bike down the Virginia Creeper trail in VA. It was my best friend's birthday on Saturday and they were staying at a house just over the VA/TN line. I met them there and we rode to the trail together. The trail was a lot of fun but I haven't been on a bike in at least a decade. AT LEAST.



Best Parts - the scenery of the trail and being with my friends
Worst Part - sore butt from the bike seat (it took us about 5 hours total to do the 17 mile trail including breaks and a lunch stop)

Colourpop Makeup: Faves and Flops

Over the last year and a half or so I've really been getting into makeup. Well, starting to care more about makeup at least. Long ago, I discovered the power of lipstick and mascara for my fair skin and blonde eyelashes...however...I never really experimented or played with anything beyond the basics before.

In 2017 a coworker introduced me to Colourpop and thus my obsession with makeup was born. I know my last post talked about me not wanting to fake tan because I was doing it FOR OTHER PEOPLE. (and actually hated doing it) This is the opposite because I love makeup. I love trying new things and failing at them. Or trying new things and mastering a technique I never thought I could.

Anyway, that's your long-winded intro into my post about Colourpop. What is Colourpop? Well, despite the Euro spelling of the word "color" it's an American-made brand produced in a lab in California. It's cruelty free...which has become very important to me with makeup brands I purchase regularly. Also, it's REALLY inexpensive. But the quality is insanely good. So...let me recap: American-made, cruelty-free, inexpensive, excellent quality. Ummmm...why would I NOT love it?  In the last year and or so I've purchased quite a bit of Colourpop makeup and in case you've never heard of it or are interested in trying some items...I've summarized my faves and my flops below. Keep in mind these are what worked and didn't work for ME. For the record my skin is fair, sensitive and combination-but-leans-towards-dry. :)




Alyssa Ultra Satin Lip || Dopey Ultra Satin Lip || Nillionaire Super Shock Shadow || Set to Stun Super Shock Shadow || Snake Eyes Pressed Powder Shadow || Sea Stars Pressed Powder Shadow || Glass Bull Pressed Powder Shadow || You Had Me At Hello Palette

Alyssa and Dopey are the Ultra Satin liquid lipsticks I've purchased more than once in a year or so. That should tell you something. I found I much preferred the Ultra Satin Lip formula over the Ultra Matte Lip formula since it's less drying. I also found that for the Super Shock Shadows (which are a cream shadow texture) I prefer the glitter or metallic. Nillionaire and Set to Stun are amazing alone or over other shadows to give it a shimmery effect. Sea Stars and Snake Eyes are pretty much my go-to everyday eyeshadows. I can blend Sea Stars in the crease and Snake Eyes on the mobile lid and it's just beautiful. Glass Bull is probably my absolute favorite single shadow of all time. I'm not being dramatic. It's the most unique, interesting shadow ever. It's beautiful on it's own but adds a gorgeous green/teal/blue shimmer to the top of any other shadow with a brown or amber flip. I wear this just by itself and it's amazing! I have a few CP eyeshadow palettes but hands-done the You Had Me At Hello palette is my favorite. I've used every single color in it...which is a big deal!




Viper Ultra Matte Lip || Split Ultra Blotted Lip || Co-Pilot Super Shock Shadow || No Promises Super Shock Shadow || Sideline Pressed Powder Shadow || Tea Garden Pressed Powder Shadow || Dragonfly Pressed Powder Shadow || Mothership Supernova Shadow

As I mentioned previously, I do not love the Ultra Matte or Ultra Blotted Lip formulas. The UML is too drying and they all dry incredibly dark. The UBL is just weird. It's patchy and strange. Not a fan. I've blogged about Co-Pilot before but it's not pink on my eyelids...but a whitish pink wash. I was hoping for more of a pale pink but it also could be because my skin is sort of pale pink. :) I don't like the Super Shock Shadows in the matte formula. They just don't stay on well for me. The two green pressed shadows are beautiful in the pan but look gross on me. Sideline is basically just a weird gray and Tea Garden looks almost exactly like another CP eyeshadow I already have. It's basically an amber/brown with a pale green duo-chrome and it's just not the beautiful green I was hoping for. Dragonfly comes off more brown than purple so it looks a little dead when worn by itself. However I can use it as a base for a more vibrant purple and it's nice. Lastly, Mothership was a disaster. It's a liquid eyeshadow and until I got a different brand to try in a Boxycharm subscription box, this made me swear off of ALL liquid eyeshadows. It's streaky, chunky and not at all what I wanted. Sigh...maybe I should just cool it with green eye things huh?

Have you tried Colourpop products? If so which ones do you like?

Skin Wars




There's a clear double standard in beauty today. We all know this. We've lashed out at brands for not being inclusive in their shade ranges...cough Tarte...cough Loreal...cough IT Cosmetics. We've sought out influencers who are ethnically diverse and unique. And we've come a long way in the beauty industry at being more thoughtful about the thousands upon thousands of different skin tones that the human race has.

But a clear double standard remains. (And no, I'm not talking about the fair vs. deep debate. I, rarely, if ever, am able to use drugstore foundations because their shade ranges don't go light enough to accommodate my fair skin. However...this is NOT the same as brands just blatantly excluding an entire end of the spectrum. That's a whole other debate for another time and place.)

The double standard I speak of is how our society places value in both light and deep skin tones depending on what your ethnicity is. Why is it not the same? Let me elaborate...

If you are caucasian. Our society emphasizes the tanner (or darker) your skin is, the healthier and more attractive you are.

But that's not the case if you are a person of color. Instead, the same "society" says that the lighter complexion and skin tone you have, it's more acceptable and revered and beautiful.

So basically, if you sit at the fair caucasian side of the spectrum or the deep person of color end of the spectrum you are not an ideal beauty.

WUT?

In my mind that sounds so crazy. I would never play into that. All skin tones are equally accepted and beautiful.

And then I go and slather myself with stinky, disgusting and messy orange self-tanner so that I don't "blind" people when I have more skin exposed. I spend lots of money on leg makeup and self-tanner and tanning booths and bronzing lotions and other junk to alter my complexion color.

What is wrong with me? I'm literally playing right into this idea that the skin tone I was born with isn't okay. I've had this huge revelation over the last few months as I ruined yet another set of sheets because my self-tanner transfers when I sweat. Or as I dreaded the long and arduous routine of exfoliation, shave, tanner, let it dry, don't shower for a day, worry about staining clothes, etc that happens when the weather turns warm. Or as I envied the women who only have to worry about shaving their legs when they wear a dress. Not whether or not they have applied enough self-tanner or Sally Hansen leg makeup to be considered an acceptable shade of tan to venture into society.

And then I got mad. It's not fair (pun intended) that I have to make myself look like someone else's standard of "pretty". EFF THAT.

And to be quite frank, my time is better spent on other things than the entire self-tanner routine. So, this spring and summer season I think I'm going to embrace my true skin tone and just go natural. No tanner. No stinky orange streaky mess.

And I dare a heaux to ever make a comment about my white legs again :)

A Reminder That Sometimes Bad Things Are Actually Not Bad

I mentioned in my previous post that we are in the process of furnishing our new house. One of the bigger purchases we needed to make was a dining room table. I originally found one at World Market that I loved. Coincidentally it was an outdoor dining table but I didn't care! I purchased the table online and anxiously awaited delivery. I didn't purchase any chairs...I figured I'd buy chairs later after the table was in place. I wanted to do mixed chairs anyway. (a few different styles) So, said dining table was to be delivered last Friday.

The day came and the delivery drivers got to the door and when I answered they said..."Um, you need to come see this."

"This" turned out to be this:



The table was heavily damaged. Not only was the box chewed up but the table itself had pretty significant damage. I could honestly have dealt with a ding or a chip or a scratch but the middle of table was splintered. I did something I've never done in my life...I refused a delivery.

Side note: You need to know I'm just THAT person usually. I never send food back. I never return clothes. I never speak up for myself. (I'm working on this...trust me.) So for me to refuse a delivery and not just "deal with it" is a big deal. Coincidentally I'm doing the same thing for one of our new couches that squeaks. I would have just dealt with it but I spoke up and they are sending a replacement. Anywho...

After the delivery truck rolled away with my beautiful new, albeit damaged, table I was majorly bummed. I was waiting on that piece to make things feel homey. My design was sort of hinging on that table. And now I had nothing.

And then I got mad. How dare they put something like that onto the truck. Clearly it was beaten up and yet they still tried to deliver it to me? NO MA'AM.

Fast forward to Saturday when M and I were out and about attempting to look at other furniture and we walked into Ashley Furniture and found THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DINING TABLE AND CHAIRS AND BUFFET/SERVER THAT WAS EVEN BETTER THAN BEFORE. Photo proof below:


And so now, here is my mildly existential take on the whole situation. Sometimes, bad things that we think are really bad are actually not. Sometimes they are uncomfortable and annoying or even depressing, but really they are a blessing. Not that I didn't love my World Market table but I love this stuff even more. Plus we got incredible deals on it and we don't have to put it together. (can I get an amen for that?!?!) This is so beautiful and farmhouse-y but timeless. I simply cannot wait for it to be delivered.

Thursday Thoughts (It's Been a Weird 10 Months)


No, you're reading this right. It's a blog post from me.

So, you may have noticed that I took about 2 months um... a long time off from blogging. A lot has happened over this period of time. LIKE A LOT. I thought I would be done with blogging for good. But lately, I've had that itch again. I just have things to talk about and what better audience than those that are still around in the blogosphere?

Let's catch up quickly over the last 10 months...

Mom
The biggest life change is that my precious mother passed away on July 29th. Things are so different now. I honestly feel so strange about it. I am still a little in shock and don't remember that she's no longer alive sometimes. She was diagnosed with brain cancer (anaplastic astrocytoma) on August 1st of 2016. Her funeral was 364 days after she was diagnosed.

Honestly, I question the "science" of medicine. I question our healthcare system. I question advice that people give me. I sometimes question God. So many "if-onlys" and "what-ifs"...it's hard to really process this. Sometimes grief comes to sucker punch me to the gut and remind me of something random. Grief is such a strange thing. So far, we've been through what was her birthday, my birthday, Christmas and Easter without her. Not yet a full year has gone by and it seems so fresh sometimes. And I fully realize that many people have already walked this walk and been there but I haven't...so this is new for me.

I cannot control when grief decides to visit, but I can choose to remember the fond things and the good times with my mom. I don't want to remember her in pain or agitated or sad. I want to remember her when she was teaching me how to sing or when we would go to museums or on vacation. I want to remember her teaching me how to make Mississippi Mud Cake and how to throw a football.

If you care to read her obituary, it is here.

House
M and I purchased a home in an adjacent city/county to where we were living. We closed on the new house March 16th and have been in a little less than 3 weeks. We absolutely ADORE this new home and the new location. It's got everything we wanted and more. It's a single family home (vs. the townhouse we were in before) and it's more than double the size of our old place. Honestly, we got two couches delivered yesterday that I ordered and that is the first piece of actual furniture I have in the entire downstairs of the house. We brought our bedroom furniture and such and our living room furniture from the townhouse went into the loft living area upstairs in the new house. So...we need end tables, accent chairs, dining room chairs (table was ordered and will be delivered this week), a kitchen table and chairs and bar stools. I keep reminding myself that I don't have to buy it all at once but it's hard not to be overwhelmed with everything we still need to purchase! Here are a few pics. I hope that now since I (maybe? perhaps?) might start blogging a little more I can document the furniture purchase and decorating process.



We listed our townhouse for sale and it had an offer within and hour and under contract within 4 hours. The housing market in the Charlotte area is insane right now. INSANE!

Well, I guess those are the only two big changes since my last post. But those are big enough to warrant my "a lot has happened" comment in the beginning. I hope to keep up with this a bit more frequently but probably not nearly as regularly as before. Stay tuned! Or check back! Or something! :)

Beach Vacation Recap

Last Sunday after church, M and I headed down to North Myrtle Beach to spend the week with his parents. The vacation was very much needed and anticipated!

Highlights: 

  • Finishing four books in 6 days! I never have a chance to just sit and read anymore so this was such a pleasure. 
  • Not getting badly sunburned. Yes, I got some sun...but mostly it was just freckling and not a lot of burn. 
  • Outlet shopping (specifically Kate Spade outlet shopping!).
  • Eating lots of ice cream. 
  • Catching some pretty sunrise/sunset shots from the condo balcony.
  • Spending time with M's family. 
  • Relaxing in the pool. 
  • Riding the "Skywheel" Ferris wheel type thing. This was definitely out of my comfort zone but I survived! 
Here are a few shots from the week! 







And on this neon coverup...I'm kind of obsessed with neon colors now. I feel like it makes me look tan...well tanner than I normally am. And I love it. Commence searching The Internets for all things neon for summer. 


And finally, I'm feeling pulled to stop blogging for a while. Or at least as frequently. I still enjoy reading blog posts but have found I've grown tired of creating my own. I'm not really sure where this leaves me...but for now, I'll keep my blog up and blog whenever the itch hits...but not nearly as frequently as I used to. I just think between work and family stuff my creative juices have dried up. I've been doing this bloggy thing for almost 10 years now. That's a long time in blog land.

Maybe this will change but for now, I won't be bringing you riveting recap posts like this (HAHA) quite as often...but will still read other people's posts daily. 

Have a wonderful week! 



The May Edit: Hits and Hits

I'm only doing my "hits" for May since I really didn't have any misses. I'm keeping this one short and simple!


I ordered some makeup brushes from e.l.f. (love their brushes!) and I got a free gift with purchase. Normally this stuff gets passed on because it never works for my extremely pale skin. However, there were two hits in this free gift. The first is the Contouring Blush and Bronzer in St. Lucia. This bronzer is surprisingly not too dark for me and the blush...though warm toned...is really nice. It actually could function as a nice summer dupe for a well-known Nars blush. Plus it has a bit of shimmer which is perfect for this season!

The second hit in the free gift from e.l.f. was this Clay Eyeshadow Palette in Necessary Nudes. It comes with a plastic cover that has the words on it for where you're supposed to put everything (lid, crease, highlight, etc.) but I can't adhere to that. I've found that the highlight shade is a good base for me and the base shade is great for a crease/transition color. I was pleasantly surprised with this and have found myself gravitating to it a lot over the last couple of weeks.

I found this Sherosa Floral Chiffon Kimono Cardigan on Amazon and I bought it originally to use as a beach cover up. However, on a whim, I wore it over a tank and jeans to work and it worked perfectly! I'm a big fan of these types of kimono shawls/kimono cardigans this summer because they are lighter than my normal cardigan but still provide some coverage. I do recommend sizing up one or two sizes since it runs small.

Lastly, another big hit for me came in late May but I'm still loving it...and it's a short, blunt haircut. I love my extensions but they are hot and heavy in the summer so my sis gave me a blunt hair cut and I've been in love with how thick it makes my baby fine hair look. I can style it straight or wavy and it's so summery!

Those are my May hits! Have you tried any of these?

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