Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas Recap

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! We certainly had a wonderful Christmas filled celebrating the birth of our Savior, spending time with family and friends, entertaining and rest. We had company for half of my Christmas break and then the other half has been spent recovering from a terrible sinus infection. I'm thankful for the time off work to be able to rest! Now that Christmas has come and passed we don't have any more guest planning on coming to town anytime soon so we are officially beginning to transition one of our guest rooms to a nursery. I am SO excited to get things started! I spent a full day cleaning out that room and figuring out where to store things. This weekend Justin and his parents are going to paint the room a blush pink color. After that it will be time to have the carpets cleaned and set up our crib that has been sitting in our garage patiently waiting to be set up! 

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and hope that you all have a Happy New Year! We will be having a semi low key New Years spent with some friends cooking prime rib and playing games. Oh how times have changed! 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Back with Big News!

I know, I know.. worst blogger EVER. I haven't blogged in almost nine months... whoops! I'll not bore you with all of the life is just so busy excuses and instead just jump right back in. As I reflect back on the past few months and what is to come this year I can't help but to be a little sad that I don't have our day in and day out life documented over the past few months. I started my blog when I was in college back in 2011 and love being able to look back to reminisce on those years and what I was interested in back then. How things have changed!! I plan to start blogging again so I don't miss out on documenting any more of our day to day adventures. 

So without further ado.. We have big news! 

Our family is growing by two little feet!  I cannot put into words how excited Justin and I are for this blessing! I know our baby girl is a gift from God and we could not be happier! I found out back in August and we have since then decided on a name..

Anna Claire Cutrell 

I am due May 1st which puts me currently at 22 weeks and in my second trimester. We have had a smooth and healthy pregnancy so far and I pray that it stays that way! Our hearts are overflowing with joy for our little gift to come! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

My Favorite Cookbooks

The older I have gotten I have developed a new love for cookbooks. But as I mentioned in this post, not just any cookbook. I like a functional cookbook that is easy to use. with plenty of pictures, clear steps and most importantly filled with recipes I actually would want to make. A cookbook full of things I will not cook is a waste of space! Other than functionality I also love cookbooks that are simply pretty and have hints of the south all through them. I've found several that include stories with the recipes and that just makes my heart giddy. When I get a new cookbook that I love I will seriously sit down and read it like a book. Maybe it's a problem? I like to just think I am newer to the world of cooking so it's my way of learning. Either way... I love cookbooks! Here are some of my favorites in case you are looking for a new one or a gift for someone. These are so pretty they make the best gifts! Wrap with a kitchen towel or a cookbook stand and you have the perfect gift. 

The Southern Living Community Cookbook

The Southern Living Community Cookbook is my favorite one to gift. They took all of the best recipes from local community cookbooks from all over the south and put them in one book. The pages are GORGEOUS and the food is simply delicious. Many of the recipes have a short story with them and all show what part of the south and who the recipe came from. It reminds me of a local junior league cookbook on Southern Living steroids. I probably gave 5 of these out as Christmas gifts this year!

The Southerners Cookbook

This is one of my newer cookbooks so I haven't made a ton of recipes out of it yet. The ones I have made did not disappoint. This one reads like a book. Beautiful photographs of the south are all through the book as well as stories. 

South Your Mouth

South Your Mouth is simple real home cooking. I love this cookbook because most receipes call for ingredients I already have in my pantry and there aren't a ton of steps. Meatloaf, pork chops, green beans... these are the kind of staples you can find in her cookbook. A fancy dish is nice for get together's and special occasions but this cookbook is filled with dishes that are perfect for weeknight dinners. 

Deep Run Roots 

I just posted about this cookbook here so I wont go in to too much detail. The owner and chef at Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, NC wrote this beautiful cookbook filled with local favorites. It is like a textbook it is so full of information and stories! 

Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook 15th Edition 

This was the first cookbook I received as a gift for graduation. I love this cookbook because it lays out all the basics a new cook would need. How to measure, store, prepare, produce shop, etc. It answers all the questions that may come up when cooking. Many pages also have step by step picture directions which is nice to have! This is the least "fun" cookbook out of the ones I have listed but one of the more practical ones. 

Paula Deen Celebrates!

I have been a Paula Deen fan for forever and have had this cookbook for quite some time. She lays her recipes out by celebrations. There are chapters for New Years, Fourth of July, Easter, Mardi Gras and so many more celebrations. I like to get ideas for holiday meals from this book even if I don't make everything suggested. She also gives little stories for each of the celebrations and "pearls of wisdom". This was one of my first favorite cookbooks that sparked an interest for me. 

Are there any cookbooks you just love? 

Monday, March 6, 2017

UNC VS Duke & a 30th Birthday

This weekend my sister and brother in law came to town to celebrate his birthday as well as my husband, Justin's 30th birthday. Their birthdays are two days apart and Justin is a HUGE Carolina basketball fan while Doug is a huge Duke fan. We decided to watch the UNC VS DUKE game as their birthday party and just prayed the two brother in laws would still be friends after the game! Ha. I'm happy to report they are still speaking. (; 

We decided to have his family and just a few friends over for pizza, wings and finger foods. I think a great time was had by all.. especially Justin because Carolina won! The best decision I made was to make the food simple this year- I ordered pizza and a cake and then just had to whip up some easy chicken wings. In the past I have cooked a lot more and made a homemade cake. While homemade is always good it's no fun to spend all day in the kitchen when you have family in town and the clean up was much easier this way. I think it turned out perfect. My sister and mother in law made some appetizers: stuffed mushrooms, dill pickle dip and chili cheese hamburger dip. Yum! 

It was Justin's 30th but Doug's 31st

I was SO pleased with how the caked turned out! 

My mom hilariously gifted each of them a framed headshot picture of her. As a joke of course.. it was absolutely hilarious to see they faces when they opened it. 

Invitations ordered from Etsy

After the game the boys stayed up way to late hanging around the fire pit and doing whatever it is that boys do. The next morning we took my sister and brother in law to church with us and then headed over to my moms for the BEST lunch. BBQ shrimp, more chicken wings, corn on the cob and more... the best meal I've had in a while! After lunch we had to say bye to my sister and Doug and spent the rest of the evening napping and watching Hacksaw Ridge- a war movie but really good! It was such a nice weekend. I'm so sad it's over! I hope you all have a great weekend! 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Weekend Recap

This weekend was easily one of the best weekends I've had in a while! The weather was absolutely gorgeous so we spent as much of it as we could outside. Saturday morning I ran in the Marlin Run 5K in Pawleys Island. I was super excited and nervous at the same time to run in the race. I have been training for a 5K using the couch to 5K app but I haven't finished the program so I didn't know if I was ready. I decided to sign up anyway and I am so glad I did! It was a smaller 5K with 76 people running in it. I told myself I would be happy if I could finish in 31-33 minutes but when I got close to the finish line and saw 28 on the clock I knew I could finish in under 30 so I sprinted the rest. I ended up with a time of 29.22! Considering this is only my second 5K ever and my first one in several years .. and I haven't finished my training program I was thrilled with the results! I did have to walk some in the last half so I'm hoping to continue practicing and run another one in April. Here was my breakdown:

Time: 29 minutes 22 seconds
Avg Pace: 9:27
Mile 1: 8:49
Mile 2: 9:08
Mile 3: 10:21
Mile .10:  9:01 <--not positive because I forgot to turn off
 my map my run right away
30th place out of 76

After the race they provided all of the runners with a Chick-fil-A sandwich and a Michelob Ultra.. umm yes! If this is how all races are sign me up! We had made the drive down to Pawleys for the day and the weather was so nice I had packed a change of clothes so we could spend the day down there. We went shopping at some of the cutest seaside stores and then headed to Murrells Inlet to grab lunch and watch the UNC game. We love visiting the Marsh Walk at Murrells Inlet because there are so many neat places to go eat and have a drink right on the boardwalk. There were tons of people out and live music to listen to. It was the perfect way to spend the day!! 

We found these pictures at a little place called Seaside Cottage... the cutest store if you are ever in the area!! I LOVE them and cannot wait to have them framed and hung in the living room! 

That night Justin and I went over to a friends house for a shrimp boil and bonfire. It really was the perfect day!! Sunday was spent at church, lunch with my parents and then visiting for a bit with Justin's parents, and FINALLY getting the tubs of Christmas items that have been tucked away in the guest bedroom put away in the attic. I made a trip to find frames for our new pictures but forgot Hobby Lobby was closed so I'll have to try again this afternoon. I hope you all had a lovely weekend! 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Five on Friday

Happy Friday! Linking up today for 5 on Friday.

1. I have a thing for cookbooks. Not just any cookbook though.. I really love cookbooks that are not only useful (I want to know what the majority of ingredients are and find recipes that I would actually make) but also cookbooks that are pretty. If they are "southern" and tell stories in it.. even better. I'm sold! For my sisters birthday I bought her the cookbook Deep Run Roots. It is written by Vivian Howard who is the owner and chef at Chef In the Farmer in Kinston. This book meets all of my criteria... the recipes sound delicious, the pictures are beautiful and there are lots of stories included. I ordered it off Amazon and was surprised at how thick it was when it came in. I highly recommend! 

2. I have major SPRING FEVER! The weather here has been amazing this week! We have been in the high 60's and low 70's almost every day. I have had the windows open in my classroom every day just wishing I could take the day off to enjoy it. I can't wait for Saturday to enjoy some sunshine!! 

3. Speaking of Saturday... I made a last minute decision to sign up for The MarlinRun 5K in Pawleys Island this Saturday! I am not quite finished with my couch to 5K training but I wanted to run it anyway. The weather is going to be perfect and it is a great excuse for Justin and I to head down to the south end and spend the day after the race! Wish me luck! I'm super excited! 

yes, I can do that (;

4. This past weekend my grandmother gave my sister and I 2 of her old cast iron skillets she is no longer using. To say I was excited is an understatement. There is just something about a cast-iron skillet that has been used with love and then passed down that is so special!! They did need to be seasoned again so I used this handy and easy guide from southern living. 

5. Next weekend we are celebrating Justin's 30th birthday!!! We decided to have a joint birthday party with him and my brother in law whose birthdays are just two days apart. What is fun is that my husband is a HUGE UNC basketball fan and my brother in law is a huge Duke fan. We decided to watch the Carolina Duke game as their birthday party. So needless to say one of them is going to have the best birthday and the other it may be the worst. Ha, Let's just hope they are still friends after!! 

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Over the past year I have been listening to tons of podcast. I started mostly listening when I was driving long distance but since then my podcast listening has evolved to any time I'm in the car, cooking and cleaning around the house, running, getting ready in the morning. Basically, all the time. I LOVE getting new podcast recommendations to subscribe to so I'm going to share some of my favorites today. If you have a podcast you love send me the name!! 

First up on the list is The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey- This podcast is always two girls chatting about pretty much anything. This is probably my favorite one because Jamie Ivey  and her guest are so inspiring. They talk a lot about faith and church which I really enjoy listening to! 

Next up is Reality Life with Kate Casey- This is almost embarrassing after posting about The Happy Hour but I can't help it! I love Bravo TV! The Housewife shows, Summer House, Southern Charm and Vanderpump Rules are my go to. I know trash TV but I can't stop watching. It is my guilty pleasure for sure! This podcast talks about all of these shows. I just can't get enough(: 

Similarly, Straight Up with Stassi- It is hosted by Stassi a cast member of Vanderpump Rules. She talks with other people about random things but sometimes gives little behind the scene information about the show. Another favorite for sure! 

This is the newest Podcast I have started to listen to- I Do Declare!- I actually found this one about a week ago after reading someones blog. I really do love new recommendations! This one is two sisters talking about everything from recipes, TV, and just life in general. I feel like I am just listening to two girlfriends chat. (I really feel that way with most of the Podcast I have listed which is why I think I like them all) 

Last, Newspring Church- I love listening to church sermons on audio during the week. This particular church is a mega church in SC. I attend a different church but have visited this one several times. The messages are normally pretty inspiring so I like to tune in! 

Do any of you listen to Podcast often? If so which ones do you love? I would love to know! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Weekending and Couch to 5K

This past weekend Justin and I traveled to Reidsville to visit with family and celebrate my sisters birthday. I hadn't been to my hometown since Christmas so I was really ready to see my family and visit! We got to town kind of late Friday night after working all day so we didn't do much other than making a quick stop for Mexican half way. On Saturday the weather was GORGEOUS! As it has been really all week. I have major spring fever as a result! We spent  most of Saturday visiting with my grandmother, helping her do some chores around the house and doing a run around the neighborhood. That night we celebrated my sisters 25th birthday! We went to a Japanese steakhouse for dinner where to cook on the table. Way too much food but lots of fun! Sunday was filled with church and then heading back home with a stop to see Justin's parents for dinner. Nothing crazy over the weekend but a little family time was good for the soul! 

My sister, Ginny, and her new husband Doug! 

we snagged a couple pic as well(: 

 Ginny and my dad (in case you are wondering my sister isn't throwing gang signs.. she is doing the "best buds" sign her and my dad have done since we were little (; 

with my sweet grandmother 

Lots of pictures of my sis, but isn't she just the cutest?! So now my couch to 5K update. I'm finally starting to feel like a RUNNER! It is an awesome feeling. I can totally see why so many people are dedicated runners. This is my recap of week 5 C25K.. you can find weeks 1-4 here

Week 5 consisted of some 5 minute jog intervals, then 8 minutes then ended the week with a 20 minute jog. YES- TWENTY. The jump went from 5 minutes, to 8 minutes to 20. I was terrified for this week but I DID IT! and now I feel more confident about my running than ever. 

Day 1- The first day of 5 minute jogs wasn't too bad. It pushed me but I did it and felt good about it. 

Day 2- The second  day of 8 minute jog intervals I was excited about because I was doing it with my sister in Reidsville. What I didn't account for was ALL of the hills in my hometown that we do not have at the beach where I live. The first 8 minute span went really well and went by fast. I think that had a lot to do with talking to my sister! I'm usually running solo. The last 8 minutes was mostly up hill and in the sun. It was tough. Really tough. I felt discouraged at the end but called it a day. 

Day 3- Day three made a jump to twenty minutes straight jogging. After being discouraged on the 8 minute jog on day 2 I was super nervous and felt like there was no way I would be successful. I knew I had to at least try though. So I tried... and I DID IT! Yall... I was so proud of myself! I know 20 minutes- 2.09 miles isn't record setting or anything but for me it was the most I had been able to do in at least 2 years. So yay!! Now I am feeling better than ever about running and really motivated to get out there again and sign up for a 5K. So a little more specific about the day 3 run- When I heard my map my run come on and say I had ran 1 mile and was 9 minutes 20 seconds, I had also just reached the front of my neighborhood so I slowed down to a walk for about 20 seconds. After the 20 seconds I realized I was a) not about to die and b) could easily start running again. so I did! At the 17 minute mark I really wanted to check my time and decide if I should turn or keep heading back to the house so I slowed down to a walk again for no more than 10 seconds. When I saw I only had 3 minutes left I picked it back up. So of the 20 minute run I walked for no more than 30 seconds. I wanted to put that in here just to be honest and to be able to look back at in the future. 

I'm feeling good about running but wont be finished with the C25K for three more weeks. With the weather so nice I'm considering signing up for a 5K in Pawleys Island this weekend? We will see!! I haven't decided yet. Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentines Day and Running

This year Justin and I decided to keep our Valentines very simple and inexpensive. We have a trip to Mexico coming up in April so we are trying to be conscious of that when it comes to our spending. I planned on cooking a nice dinner at home for Valentines but when Justin told me he had been to the doctor on his lunch break and was under the weather I decided to switch it up a bit to make our evening even more relaxed. So.. pizza it was! Papa Johns makes heart shaped pizza on Valentines day and this just so happens to be one of our favorite foods. Easy choice! I jazzed up the box a little for fun. Carolina basketball is an obsession of J's so it was only appropriate to include a picture. He said it was his favorite Valentines yet, even being sick. There you have it- simple for the win! 

On another note, that has nothing to do with pizza. Quite the opposite in fact. Running! A few weeks ago I decided to try out the couch to 5K app in hopes to train to run a 5K and dare I say even a 10K this year?! Running has never been my thing although I have always wanted it to be. It is something that has never come naturally to me and is probably as much as a mental block as a physical one. I did have a period of time a few years ago when I really got into it and ran a 5K. After the race I took a "week" break that never ended. I was able to train and run for a 5k a few years ago so mentally I KNOW I can do it again, but dang it if it isn't hard! I am using the Couch to 5K app and just completed week 4. I'm feeling good about it but it's tough at the same time. I really started at beginner level (as in 1 1/2 minutes of jogging before I felt like I needed to walk) but have made progress every week. It's crazy to think the first day a one minute jog had me out of breath but four weeks later I am up to 5 minutes of jogging at a time no problem. I want to track my progress on here for accountability and also because I was searching the Internet for blogs when I first started but couldn't really find much on others that had completed the couch to 5K program. Here is my Couch to 5K thoughts on weeks 1-4:

Week one: 1 minute jog, one and a half minute walk intervals for  20 minutes. This was really easy for me. I only did one day of this and then skipped ahead to week two for a little more of a challenge. 

Week two: 1 and 1/2 minute jog, 2 minute walk intervals for 20 minutes. Who knew the extra 30 seconds could make a difference from week one! It did though. This week was doable but not easy. I felt like it was the right amount of timing for me. 

Week three: 3 minute jog and walking intervals for a total of 30 minutes. I was nervous to make the jump to 3 minutes but I did it! It wasn't a piece of cake but it was once again, doable. I felt like I was ready for the increase in time but any more would have been difficult this week. By the end of week three I didn't feel ready to move to week 4 (5 minute jogs intervals) but wanted to keep with the program so I did. 

Week four: 5 minute jog and walking intervals. It's embarrassing how nervous I was to try jogging for 5 minutes but I DID IT! It wasn't easy but I could do it. I was so proud of myself after each of these workouts. I just finished week four (each week is three workouts) and feel as if 5 minutes is still the maximum time I can jog at a time but I want to attempt week 5's jump to 8 minutes. I'm hoping I will surprise myself and be able to do it but we will see. I'm telling you... I have to get out of my head- running is such a mental block for me!! It's like I almost have it ingrained in my head that I can't do it even though deep down I know I can. 

The goal is to finish the couch to 5K program and sign up for at least two races this spring. Has anyone else used the couch to 5K app or have any tips for a new runner?!