27 September 2013

Five on Friday - It's Officially Fall, Y'all!




Via someecards

PUMPKIN

Anything and everything pumpkin, please! 

Pumpkin Spice Lattes, pumpkin candles, pumpkin cooking - and did you know that you can buy pumpkin spice marshmallows??!! How did I not know about this until today?? I'm telling you, if I could find a shampoo in pumpkin I would buy it ALL. 

My favorite treat on Friday morning is to swing through Starbucks after dropping her highness off at day care. I mosey in, get my coffee, sit and relax for a few minutes and just watch the world go by. In a weird way, it's very relaxing for me and puts me in a great mood for the weekend. 


College Football

Via someecards
If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest  than you know of my deep love and passion for University of Tennessee football. It's in my blood, y'all. 

No, seriously.

I was born in Nashville and lived in Tennessee until around the age of 7. My grandparents house was painted orange with white trim. They had an orange and white checkerboard mailbox. My grandmother drove a white Nissan Maxima with orange stripe details, and they had a camper named 'Smokey' which they drove to Knoxville for all home games, as they had season tickets. To say I'm a huge UT fan would be an understatement.
Right before football season started this year, I found an awesome monogram boutique on Etsy called Embelish Boutique. I had been looking for a unique car decal and fell in love with their monogram state decals. You basically click the state of your choice and they put your monogram over it. It was perfect and exactly "me". I clicked 'purchase' immediately and within 3 days I had my decal. I'm pretty certain it's unique in Colorado. ;-)


Candles

In my humble opinion, there is nothing better on a fall night than opening the window to let the cool fall air in, pouring a glass of wine, turning off the lights and lighting some candles. 

Absolute. Perfection.

Bath & Body Works has their pumpkin and fall candle collection out and it is decadent, heavenly, and will make you feel a love and longing for home that you just don't get during the warmer, summer months. If you haven't introduced your nose to these scents, do so immediately! Divine.


Corn Mazes & Pumpkin Farms
This is a must-do for me and our family every year. Hayrides, pumpkin carving, corn mazes, petting zoos - you name it, I want to do it. The pumpkin farm we went to in Virginia had a great gift shop attached to the pumpkin farm so you could buy homemade apple butter, pies, jellies, etc. I'm hoping to find a great pumpkin farm here in Colorado.

Family

Overall for me, the beginning of fall means two things - family and the start of the holiday season. And really, what could possibly be better than that?

I can't wait to dive into it all; Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. During this time of harvest, I plan to reflect on my life and give thanks for all my many, many blessings. 

I am so blessed to have so much; a beautiful family, friends, health, and all my needs met. May we all take time over the next few months to look over our lives and give thanks for all we have and reflect on what is truly important in this life. 

Have a wonderful weekend!
Courtney

23 September 2013

Our Weekend Recap - In Pictures

Friday

Sporting new braids...
Enjoying Pumpkin Spiced Lattes...
Finally starting to feel like fall in Colorado


Saturday

Celebrating Michael's Birthday...
Watching UT Football...
Getting dolled up for a night out on the town...
Enjoying dinner, drinks, and jazz at Ace Gillett's...
Snuggling by cozy fires with wine at Moot House... 


Sunday

Recovering from said night out...
Sunday swing date with our best girl at the park...
Swings, slides, and ropes oh my!





How was your weekend?

XO,
Courtney

20 September 2013

Five on Friday

I'm linking up this week to participate in 5 on Friday!


While surfing blogs the other night, I came across a new blog called i am baker. While checking out the site, I found an article they published called 'What Every Facebook User Needs to Know'

The article basically explains that just because something is on the Internet, it doesn't mean it's fair game. There are rules, and more importantly, laws regarding "sharing" pictures, posts, intellectual property, and the like. I am SO glad I found this article and took the time to read it. I learned a lot, and while I don't steal or use pictures that aren't my own, it definitely made me more aware of what I will and won't post on my social media sites in the future. 

If you're a blogger reading this, you need to take five minutes to read the article. DO IT. You will benefit greatly from the information. The bottom line is this - take the time to learn what you need to know now or find out later when you have to go to court. 


If you're a mommy who is fabulous, amazing, rocking it, and so lovely (Which you all are - you know you are!) buuut you're struggling with the occasional self-esteem issue, take a minute to read my blog post from last week called 'Transparency - My Look Into the Life of a Real Mom'. It is an honest look into my life as a real, sleep-deprived, coffee driven mom; no makeup, no organization, no shame. You are not alone in your struggles and feelings of self-worth in your work, your home, and your life. 

Just remember this - The Lord gave you this life because you are strong enough to handle it - not to be defeated, frustrated, and saddened by it. 


A while back, Michael found this great website called blugraphic. Why is it so great you ask? It is a site of vector and psd freebies that include templates, mock-ups, websites, and icons. All. For. Free. The only downside (If you want to call it that or really care) is that in order for the file to download, you have to tweet allow the site to tweet that you're downloading it. 

For me, I didn't really care. Before I started downloading, I sent a tweet saying, "I'm getting ready to download some free graphics - sorry for the tweets" kind of thing and off I went. I got a TON of great new graphics to use for my blog - case in point, these wonderful ribbons I'm using right now! Check out the site, it's worth the time and tweets especially if you're an active blogger who needs graphics.


A few Saturday's ago, we decided to lunch at Chili's. As you can see from the picture above, someone ate very well. I mean, like, stuffed her face like a chipmunk well. It was so funny to watch her eat that I snapped this picture, uploaded it to my Instagram account, and tagged Chili's in my comment. 

Later that afternoon when we got up from our naps, I had a message from them saying that they want to use Maddy's picture!
Long story short, after emailing back and forth with Chili's, we are signing some forms to allow them to use Maddy's picture in their marketing materials; website, national menus, print materials, social media, and more! So cool! We are really excited about this and while we have absolutely no expectations, I have to admit that I would have no problem with my Chickie being a star. :-) We'll see!

PS - I know a lot of people hate hash tags, but this is a prime example of why you need to do it. You never know who will see your posts!


Unless you've been living under a rock over the last week, you know that Northern Colorado was completely devastated by flooding. Reuters is reporting that the early estimates in property loss are around 2 BILLION. That's BILLIONS, y'all.
Via Google
Working as the Marketing Manager for the Fort Collins Board of REALTORS®, I've come to know people who have been directly affected by the floods - these people have lost everything. For those who've been displaced, it has been estimated that they may not be able to go back to their homes for at least six months. At least. I'm guessing with winter right around the corner, it will be longer. A Colorado winter can be very unforgiving. The bottom line is this - it's a very, very bad situation. The worst natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of men, women, and children have nothing and no where to go.

So, how can you help? Here are a few ways...

1. My office is currently doing a Flood Relief Gift Card & Fundraising Effort. To help address the immediate needs of people affected, we felt this was the best way to go. Gift cards are immediate use of funds and the flood victims can use them for the items they truly need instead of having to piece-mill items together. If you're interested in donating to this campaign, simply comment below or you can check out our website with information at www.fcbr.org/FloodRelief



The best part? All of these organizations are local meaning, anything and everything you donate stays local instead of it being channeled through a national organization and you never knowing where it really ends up. 

If you're able, please consider a donation. I can personally tell you that it means the world to someone who needs it the most. 

XO,
Courtney

19 September 2013

Creamy & Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas


For those of you who don't know, we live in Colorado. More importantly, we live in and around the area of the recent flooding. For seven straight days it has rained. Five of those days it rained all day every day. Needless to say, I'm over the rain. But I can't complain - we are very fortunate and lucky to not have been affected by the devastating flood waters unlike so many thousands. Reuters is now reporting that the first estimates of property loss will total around 2 billion. Keep your eyes open for an upcoming post on how you can help with Colorado flood relief! This will be coming in the next day or two. 

When the weather turns cloudy, rainy and cold there's only one thing type of food that will satisfy my stomach's grumbling - hot, cheesy, gooey, delicious meals. Whether it be from the crock pot or baked in the oven, I crave a meal that will warm my home with delicious smells while warming my belly at the same time. 

Today's recipe of Creamy & Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas accomplishes just that PLUS, it only has 8 ingredients, takes less than 30 minutes to prep and put together, and is so incredibly yummy that it will make everyone in your family clean their plates. For me, it literally makes me lick my plate clean. This is a recipe that I've perfected over the last few years and I'm excited to share it with all of you.

Here's What You'll Need:

1 casserole dish
12 flour tortillas 
1, 1lb bag of grilled and ready chicken of your choice
2 bunches green onions, chopped
1 can of black olives, chopped
1 can Rotel chilies
2, 103/4 oz. cans of cream of chicken soup
20 oz. Mexican style shredded cheese
1 pint of sour cream 

(If you're interested in making a slightly healthier version of this meal, buy light sour cream, whole wheat tortillas, and fat free cheese.)

Here's How You'll Make It:
1. Preheat your oven to 350. Place grilled and ready chicken in a microwave safe dish, cover, and warm in the microwave for 5 minutes (Or follow the bag's instructions)

2. While the chicken is heating, chop the green onions, open the cans of Rotel, olives, soup, and sour cream. 
3. Once the chicken is done, in a large bowl, combine the chicken, green onions, Rotel, cream of chicken soup, half the bag of shredded cheese, and the sour cream. I also add salt and pepper to taste as well.


4. Use non-stick Pam spray to lightly coat your casserole dish. Spoon filling into each flour tortilla, roll tortilla into place, and place in casserole dish.


5. Top enchiladas with remaining shredded cheese and olives. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. This recipe will serve ~8 people or provide plenty of amazing leftovers for a smaller family. 

Voila! Looks amazing, right?!

You guys honestly, this recipe is so quick, easy, and delicious that it will easily become one of your favorite go-to recipes. If you try it, let me know what you think!

So it's your time to share! What are some of your favorite meals for a cold, rainy day?

XO,
Courtney

*Pictures and recipe belong to Courtney and Shiraz In My Sippy Cup. Please do not replicate, share, or use images or recipe without my permission or consent. Thank you!

15 September 2013

Courtneyology

I'm pretty new to the blogging world. Get to know me a little bit...

FOODOLOGY

1. What is your salad dressing of choice?
Bleu cheese - hands down

2. What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
It's a toss up between Carrabbas and Cracker Barrel

3. What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
Mexican. Anything Mexican. Yummmm.

4. What are your pizza toppings of choice?
Thin crust mushroom and onion

5.What do you like to put on your toast?
Devonshire cream and lemon curd

TECHNOLOGY

1. How many televisions are in your house?
2

2. What color cell phone do you have?
The phone itself is silver and black. The Otterbox cover is pink and grey

3. Have any idea how many Megahertz your computer has?
Nope

BIOLOGY

1. Are you right-handed or left-handed?
Left

2. Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
Yes. My galbladder.

3. What is the last heavy item you lifted?
A water cooler full of drinks

4. Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
Yes

BULLCRAPOLOGY

1. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
No

2. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
I've always liked the name Charlotte.

3. Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
No

DUMBOLOGY

1. How many pairs of flip flops do you own?
5

2. Last time you had a run-in with the cops?
A driving ticket a couple of years ago

3. Last person you talked to?
Michael

4. Last person you hugged?
My daughter

FAVORITOLOGY


1. Season?
Winter

2. Holiday?
Christmas

3. Day of the week?
Saturday

4. Month?
December

CURRENTOLOGY


1. Missing someone?
Yes

2. Mood?
Amused

3. What are you listening to?
The TV

4. Watching?
Baggage


RANDOMOLOGY

1. First place you went this morning?
To the kitchen for coffee

2. What's the last movie you saw?
Now You See Me

3. Do you smile often?
Yep! 

OTHER-OLOGY


1. Do you always answer your phone?
If it's someone I know and feel like talking then yes. Otherwise, no.

2. It's four in the morning and you get a text message, who is it?
Probably my mother

3. If you could change your eye color what would it be?
I wouldn't. I love my peepers

4. What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic?
Cherry limeaid rules!

5. Do you own a digital camera?
Of course

6. Have you ever had a pet fish?
No

7. Favorite Christmas song(s):
O Holy Night

8. What's on your wish list for your birthday?
No clue

9. Can you do push ups?
No

10. Can you do a chin up?
No

11. Does the future make you more nervous or excited?
Excited

12. Do you have any saved texts?
Yes

13. Ever been in a car wreck?
Yes

14. Do you have an accent?
I have a southern accent that pops up from time to time

15. What is the last song to make you cry?
Secret Garden by Bruce Springsteen

16.Plans tonight?
Nope

17. Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom?
I'm sure there have been times in my life that I thought I had but really I've been truly blessed to not have.

18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday?
Drinks, appetizers, and dinner

19. Have you ever been given roses?
Yes


20. Current worry?

Anything having to do with my daughter
21. Current hate right now?
Nothing. Hate is a strong word.

22. Met someone who changed your life?
Most definitely

23. How will you bring in the New Year?
FUN FUN FUN!!

24. What song represents you?
Baby Got Back by Sir Mix A Lot

25. Would you go back in time if you were given the chance?
Yes

26. Have you ever dated someone longer than a year?
Of course

27. Do you have any tattoos/piercings?
Just in the ears

28. Does anyone love you?
Yep

29. Ever had someone sing to you?
Yes

30. When did you last cry?
Today. I saw an elderly woman walking through our neighborhood and it made me realize how much I miss my grandmother.

31. Do you like to cuddle?
Yes

32. Are most of the friends in your life new or old?
I have more aquaintances than friends. I think the word 'friend' gets used way to loosely. My girls know who they are.

33. Do you like pulpy orange juice?
No way. Ech.

14 September 2013

Transparency; Your Invitation to See the Life of a Real Mom.

Over the last few weeks, I've read an immense amount of blog posts from women discussing a few of the following topics: insecurity, feeling overwhelmed, societal pressure to be the "perfect mom" and feeling like a failure in the home. Reading each of these blog posts has made me feel only one thing in the end...

Sadness.

An overwhelming amount of sadness. Why? Because all of these women who are struggling with these issues are probably some of the most beautiful, capable, and loving women I know. They have talents, skills, and smarts that could put McGyver to shame. And for the record, McGyver ain't got shit on a mom dealing with a toddler who is a ticking time bomb. The day he can successfully deal with that shit is the day I'll give him his props. Until then, he probably just needs to stick to diffusing bombs with toilet paper rolls. 

But I digress.

I feel the sadness of these women and I understand where it comes from. Every day, we are inundated with messages from the media, social media, and especially (Most disappointing) our peers that tell us this one big lie...

"If you can't be the perfect mother, wife, housekeeper, or friend than you are a failure."

What's even more distressing is that we buy into this message lock, stock, and barrel. We feel the need to always look perfect. We feel that our child's Birthday parties will never be a success unless they are Pinterest worthy. We look at ourselves in the mirror and verbally attack our souls by pointing out every flaw, every wrinkle, and every wobbly bit. We curse ourselves when we realize that we are not the baby whisperer who can lull their child back to sleep or soothe them when they're upset. We look at our homes, the piles of laundry, and the constant stock piles of dirty dishes and we shame ourselves into thinking that we're doing it all wrong. How do I know this?

Because I do it too.

Yep - guilty as charged. I have my moments when I feel like an utter failure as a woman, mother, and housekeeper. It's a very easy trap to fall into. Most of the time, I think our negativity creeps up on us before we even realize that it's there. One minute we're rocking the world and the next minute, we're sitting in front of our computer looking at pictures that friends post and wondering why we can't have the spotless, clean, and immaculate home that Sally has even with 10 children. But here's the secret no one ever tells you...

Lean in closer. It's a nasty little secret. Are you ready?...

It's all a LIE. 

No one's life is perfect. What you see in pictures and on social media is someones highlight reel. Very rarely if ever will you be witness to someones B roll - you know, the out takes, the bloopers, and the crap that gets left on the cutting room floor for no one to see. 

So my friends, today I offer you this. I offer you a glimpse into my not-so-perfect life. I'm going to show you all the little things in my world that would make the perfect world of Pinterest and social media gasp with horror. Let's take a walk on the real side of being a parent and let's take a few minutes to be honest about what most of our lives look like.

Are you ready? Let's go...

1. This is me...without makeup. This is a completely raw image - no Photoshop, no Instagram, no filters -  nothing. If you look closely, you'll see the two lovely zits on my forehead and the lovely luggage underneath my eyes. I have skin spots around my nose and a few acne scars. My brows haven't been waxed since God was a child and this is how my hair looks most weekends - piled up on the top of my head. Why? Very simply - I don't feel like "doing" it. The days of spending endless amounts of time behind a hair straightener or curler are done. I've got more important things to worry about and waste my time on. 

Pretty sexy, huh? 


2. This is the pile of clothes that have been in our dryer now since last weekend. That's right. For a full 7 days, we've been pulling clothes out of the dryer as we need them. Homemaker of the year right here, folks.
3.  Speaking of clothes, here's the stack of laundry that still needs to be washed. Maybe I can accomplish that if I get said clothes above out of the dryer? Hmmmm. Maybe.
4.  Remember that "It's Time" blog post I did a while back where I said "It's time for me to organize our pantry because it's still a mess even though we moved in over a month ago"?? Yeah...well...it's still a hot mess. Actually, saying it's a hot mess may be generous. It's actually more of a rat's nest. We currently have around 5 boxes of spaghetti because the closet is so junky and disorganized that I can never tell if we have any or not so I end up buying more when I go to the store. Maybe one day I'll get around to it. It's all about priorities; nap or clean closet? Watch football or clean closet? Go shopping and buy more spaghetti or clean the closet? You get the drift.

5.  So...this is pretty much the way our kitchen looks on any given day. It usually stays this way until after dinner time and if I'm being honest, sometimes it stays this way overnight. I'd like to say it gets this messy because I'm in there whipping up all kinds of culinary art but honestly, most days, it's because I'm either A. Tired or B. Lazy. Tired and lazy...it's not a great combination but it is what it is.
6.  Last but not least, here's an appetizing picture of Maddy's high chair. The cover to it probably only gets washed once in a blue moon, the straps are completely stained and ruined and as you can see, there's a buffet of food underneath the cover that never gets cleaned up. You would think that by now the dog would have this figured out to be a gold mine of food opportunity but he hasn't, so it's more for me to clean up. Henry, you're falling down on the job.

So there you have it. Snippets of our not-so-perfect Pinterest, social media, peer pressure life. And as I write this, I'm sitting on my dirty sofa with cracker crumbs all in the seams dressed in yoga pants with over a dozen holes in them with an old ass Tennessee Vols t-shirt. I haven't showered yet today and my hair is a mess. But you know what?

I couldn't be happier.

I've come to accept that my life isn't perfect nor does it need to be. Gone are the days where I will always look beautiful, cute, and put together. I will never have all the laundry done. The toilets will eventually get dirty and won't be cleaned immediately. The carpets could be vacuumed more. I could bake more, clean more, and be far more involved with friends. But then again, I'd miss out on this...

This morning, Maddy wanted to go outside to ride her new tricycle for the first time. Had I been so hung up on my home or anything else, I would have missed out on this. 

And why in the world would I ever want to do that?

Ladies - relish in and celebrate you. Learn to accept that nothing will ever be perfect and there are so many things that our out of our control. Instead, put your efforts and energies into the things that really matter - you, your husband, your children, and your family. Go without makeup...trust me...IT'S OK. If people don't like the way you look, they don't have to look at you. Live with the confidence that the Lord gave you this life because you are strong enough to handle it - not to be frustrated, saddened or defeated because of it.

You've got this.

Now, instead of doing another load of laundry, go take a nap.