Thursday, January 31, 2013

Project 365: January

One of my favorite blogs to follow is Dine and Dish, written by Kristen Doyle. Her blog not highlights incredible food, but it is so real. She is honest and open about her own life and its easy for readers to get a feeling of who she is as a person. I admire her authenticity as its easy to put on a front over the Internet (I mean have y'all seen Catfish?!). Not to mention, her recipes are fabulous and her photography is stunning. 

This past year, Kristen participated in Project 365, in which she took and posted a photo from each day of 2012. I was so inspired by this idea! As many of you know, I am obsessed with taking pictures on my phone (I mean have you seen my Instagram?!), but I think that keeping a record of each day is such a cool idea. I have decided to participate in Project 365 with my best friend, my mom! We are going to be focusing on appreciating every bit of our lives, no matter how small, this year. We think that by documenting our gratitude in these pictures, we will make our year a little richer.

I am so excited and hoping maybe some of you all will join me! At the end of each month, I'll post a recap of my photos from the past month.

So, here goes nothing! And more importantly, here's to finding beauty in our everyday lives!

January 1st: First sunrise of 2013 over the Mississippi River as my family and I drove home from New Orleans. Perfect start to the year.

January 2nd: A delicious salad to detox from all the delicious Cajun food I indulged in while in New Orleans.

January 3rd: Had a perfect girls' night with my oldest sister, Kelley. We went for a walk, made Chicken Chili and watched Bridesmaids...sister bonding at its finest.

January 4th: Went to a concert at the Evening Muse in downtown Charlotte with my best friends from high school. It was fun to see how we've all changed, but how we are somehow still so similar.

January 5th: Another sister bonding moment with Kelley at Jersey Mike's subs (my favorite). Our Saturday mornings needed this (believe me).

January 6th: My mom and I went to a post holidays cookie exchange with friends from church. It was the perfect round-up of the holiday season...and the treats were fabulous!

January 7th: I couldn't get over how pretty the sky looked while I was running errands with my mom - perfect cure to the Monday blues.

January 8th: Roxie made it very hard for me to leave to go back to school. I will miss having her next to me each morning as I enjoy my coffee and cereal (and Good Morning America).

January 9th: FDOC (First Day of Classes) was made more bearable by the incredible (and warm) weather in Chapel Hill.

January 10th: I joined the Y at school! I know I already pay to go to the school gym, but I am considering this an investment in my workout sanity.

January 11th: Not sure if there could be any better end to the first week of classes than BBQ Day (I'm hush puppy obsessed).

January 12th: Spent the nicest day of the year (granted it's been 12 days...) indoors. Sitting in a room for 8 hours when it's 70 degrees in January is just cruel.

January 13th: My oldest sister, Kelley, came to visit me in Chapel Hill before a business trip in Virginia. We enjoyed a nice walk around town (complete with views of "The Castle") and of course, Jersey Mike's Subs.

January 14th: Woke up feeling terrible, but somehow managed to go to class (and infect everyone). Made an appointment with the doctor only to realize I had a 100+ fever. 

January 15th: Ah, my first time being truly sick at college, and with the flu no less. Despite having gotten the flu shot, I came down with the nasty illness. I have never wanted my mom more. NyQuil kept me sane.

January 16th: Naturally I had to heal my sore throat/pain/sadness with hot chocolate. I attempted to do some homework while drinking this, but I think you can all guess how that turned out (hint: it didn't).

January 17th: I chose to go home for MLK weekend to infect my family so that I would be able to rest and heal properly (and get taken care of my parents). Luckily, I made it home in time to celebrate my dad's birthday - with SAS Cupcakes no less! Happy Birthday Dad! (PS - bottom left corner = cinnamon sugar = the best = mine).

January 18th: My Friday night at home was made complete with a late night walk around the neighborhood with my sister, Kelley, followed by Nothing But Noodles and a viewing of the Bachelor. I loved the way the colors of the sky looked behind this tree.

January 19th: I don't care how old I get, there is nothing more perfect than cozying up AT HOME. I enjoyed this lazy Saturday with a big cup of Dunkin' Donuts Coffee and a fresh Southern Living mag.

January 20th: Another perk of being home - this little nugget, Roxie. She is the sweetest, most adorable pup ever. Don't you love her new haircut and bandana?! Thought so.

January 21st: Driving anywhere long distance is never fun. However, driving back to school and sitting in standstill traffic on the interstate for AN HOUR is actually unbearable. Granted, I did get to see, and enjoy, a pretty sunset.

January 22nd: My college campus is stunning. Simple as that. Definitely makes me appreciate my education all the more.

January 23rd: I looked like a fuzzy Christmas decoration walking to class. Brr! I can't handle the winter. Thank goodness for gloves, jackets and coffee.

January 24th: A very Happy Birthday to my roommate, Morgan! Naturally, she and Katy danced the night away after a delicious hibachi dinner. Japanese food is da bomb.

January 25th: It was a dreary, icy day in Chapel Hill. While we were forecasted to see some snow, all we saw was sleet and frozen rain. It made for a nice day to hibernate inside, though.

January 26th: Ah, a definite struggle this month. For Christmas, I received this notepad and some pens so that I could keep a journal. I really do want to get back into journaling, but for some reason, I can't seem to make myself start again - I keep finding excuses! Advice would be greatly appreciated.

January 27th: Getting myself to go to Church in college has always been somewhat of a struggle. I really enjoy my Church at home and I love going to mass with my family. This Sunday, I was definitely glad I went. It started my week on a good note and gave me a fresh perspective.

January 28th: I won another giveaway from one of my favorite companies, Alexia Foods! I mean have y'all tried their Spicy Sweet Potato Fries?! They are da bomb. I enjoyed chatting about healthy food with Monique from Ambitious Kitchen and Liz from The Lemon Bowl. They are both phenomenal bloggers, so check out their sites! #HeresToFood

January 29th: It was unseasonably warm in Chapel Hill at 70 degrees. I was not complaining one bit. Despite having lots of classes and meetings, I enjoyed every minute I spent outside.

January 30th: And on the flip side, it was a dreary day in Chapel Hill! Rainy days put my head in a fog and make me so sleepy! I enjoyed this burst of blue sky on my walk home from the library - just had to look on the bright side!

January 31st: Tomorrow is my first exam of the semester, and overall I feel like I am drowning in assignments. Hopefully I can catch up this weekend without going crazy. This year, I need to focus on organizing, prioritizing and NOT getting overwhelmed!

Overall, I really enjoyed my first month of Project 365! In February, I want to focus more on ensuring that I am not just taking a picture to have a picture for each day. I want to be sure that as I continue, my pictures have meaning because this is essentially a photo diary of my year! I also want to to restart my weekly "Tidbit" posts in February with more photos! This month was just a busy one with getting back to school!

I hope you all have a great weekend and a fun time watching the Super Bowl on Sunday! Don't forget to celebrate with some great food! Here's a list of a few ideas that will please a crowd: Buffalo Chicken BurgersTurkey Black Bean ChiliHam & Swiss SlidersChocolate Chunk BlondiesGooey S'mores CookiesThe Ultimate Cookie CupChocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ham & Swiss Sliders

Is everyone pumped for the Super Bowl this weekend?! I know I am! As I mentioned when I posted my Turkey Black Bean Chili, I admittedly like the Super Bowl most for the commercials and the food. Although, I am a huge NFL fan - so there! I am rooting for the 49ers and will be wishing the entire time that I were in New Orleans!

If you are looking for an easy and delicious food for your Super Bowl festivities, look no further! These Ham & Swiss Sliders will be the perfect addition to your party spread. They are easy to whip up and I promise they will be quickly devoured. My mom and I brought these to our post holidays cookie exchange and everyone loved them and wanted the recipe - a definite good sign! Also, how could you not love anything that includes a King's Hawaiian roll. Pretty sure it's impossible.

I am not sure what I'll be doing for the big game, but I am excited to watch! Who are you rooting for? And do you have plans? Even if you don't, make sure you make some sliders! Enjoy!

Ham & Swiss Sliders
Recipe Adapted from King's Hawaiian
  • 1 12-pack dinner rolls (I used King's Hawaiian Savory Butter Dinner Rolls) - be sure not to get sweet rolls!
  • 1 lb. deli ham, shaved or sliced thin
  • 1 lb. swiss cheese, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried mustard
  • 2 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried minced onion
  • 2 tbsp. poppy seeds
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter, then mix in dried mustard, Worchestershire sauce, dired minced onion and poppy seeds.
  2. Cute entire pack of dinner rolls in half, horizontally (keeping the top and bottom halves separate but intact. All 12 dinner roll tops should be connected, as should all 12 bottoms).
  3. Place bottom half of rolls in a baking pan and cover them with ham, then cheese. Then, cover the ham and cheese with the top halves of the rolls.
  4. Drizzle butter mixtrure over the top of rolls, making sure onion and poppy seeds are well distributed. Refigerate your rolls several hours or overnight.
  5. Once rolls are ready to be baked, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and bake for 15-20 minutes. Once finished, cut apart the rolls for serving.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Laissez Les Bontemps Rouler!! {Part 3}

I am FINALLY back with my last NOLA recap! I know this is quite the awkward delay, but I was prisoner to a loaner computer for a while while mine got worked on. No computer = no pictures = no blog post. Sigh. So, in case you forgot where you left of, you can see Part 1 of my recap here and Part 2 here.

Our trip to New Orleans was quick, but it was packed with tons of fun! The city is truly amazing and it was such a nice getaway for my family and me.

On Day 3, we walked from our hotel in the French Quarter to the National World War II Museum. The walk was so scenic. I love the charm of the architecture in New Orleans. Every building we passed had such flair. I stopped and took a picture at Lafayette Square while we walked too because it was so pretty.

The main event of the day was our trip to the National World War II Museum. It was SUCH a neat experience. I actually love museums and this museum experience was very special as my paternal grandfather served in the army during World War II at just 19 years old! He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and earned a Purple Heart. He is truly my hero. 

The tour started with an interactive movie that gave such insight into the war. It was a 3D movie and it was intense and informative. There were flashes of lights and gunshots, and the seats even moved. I really enjoyed the film and was just in awe of our nation pulled together to fight. Everyone helped in the war effort. Patriotism was so strong. It was incredible. Then we proceeded into the main exhibit. They had tons of great artifacts and pictures. I really enjoyed learning more about the war and felt a deep connection to my Papa. Currently the museum is expanding and I can't wait to go back! It's definitely worth a visit!

After our trip to the museum, we walked past the Mississippi River to Jackson Square. It was a long and chilly walk, but the views were well worth it!

When we got to Jackson Square, it was packed! Definitely a great tourist destination. There were artists set up everywhere selling their unique paintings, restaurants dotted every corner (all looked amazing) and people were everywhere! We stopped into St. Louis Cathedral and it was gorgeous. The architecture and decor was breathtaking. And the beautiful blue skies didn't hurt either!

At this point, we were all STARVING (hangry if you will), and walked around a little before stopping at the Old Coffee Pot Restaurant in the French Quarter. We didn't realize it, but it was featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives! How cool is that?! The service was a bit slow, but hey, it's the Big Easy and the food more than made up for it. Our meal tab included a Fried Oyster Po Boy (such a classic!), Crawfish Pie, Chicken & Andouille Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo. Of course there were also Bloody Mary's and a couple of glasses of wine involved, too! All was delicious!

After our yummy lunch, we headed back to the hotel to rest before we headed to Huck Finn's Cafe, a New Orleans sports bar, to watch Clemson kill LSU! We were the only Clemson fans in the bar (no surprise), and it was so fun to watch our team beat the locals! While we didn't get entrees, we honestly ordered half of the appetizer menu. Everything was SO.GOOD. I didn't take a pictures of everything we ate, but we killed so much food. We had the BBQ Pork Nachos, Blackened Alligator (next time I'd get fried, though!), the Fried Pickles and a Shrimp Quesadilla. I think the waiters loved us. Plus, we ordered quite a few drinks. I think we probably helped them break even that night ha!

By the time we actually left the bar, it was already very late! We seriously posted up at our table at Huck Finn's for over 5 hours. Oops. After our food fest, we headed to Jackson Square to ring in the New Year! We got there at 11 p.m. and honestly couldn't move. It was wall-to-wall people. Knowing we'd have to wait an hour before 2013, we ended up just walking back to our hotel. We walked down Bourbon Street and it was a fun experience! Beads were being thrown everywhere and people were clearly having a good time, haha!

After grabbing a pre-midnight snack at Krystal Burger, we watched the first fireworks of 2013 from our hotel room. It was such a nice night and I loved ringing in the new year with my favorite people, my family!

We woke up (painfully) early on January 1st to head home. I was so sad to see our trip come to an end, but seeing the first sunrise of 2013, over the Mississippi River no less, was beautiful and made leaving a little less bitter. I cannot wait to go back to New Orleans and would love to hear from you all of any other places I need to go to when I return!