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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Glory and Majesty of Planters Cheese Balls



You know when you go to the store and think, Mmm... you know what, I haven't had X in a long time, it would be super delicious today. Then you go looking for it, figure it's probably just not at that store and go about your day. If you're me you look for it slightly obsessively for years. 

Sometimes, in a glorious chain of events, the company decides to bring it back and Lara rejoices. It happened 3 years ago with Gatorade Lemon Ice. If you weren't aware, Lemon Ice Gatorade is the most delicious of all the flavors. Really, nothing holds a candle to Lemon Ice Gatorade. 

It was back, only for a limited time and ONLY sold at 7-11. Where I live in NC, we have 0 and I mean zero 7-11s which is tragic in more ways than one.  We happened to take a trip to Florida that year, where 7-11s grow like palm trees and the world was finally right again.


Oh Lemon Ice, how I love you. 

My MIL also brought me down a case of these that she picked up in NY. Much to Kev's dismay, said case Gatorade sat in our garage for 3 years until he recently threw it away because I didn't drink it. In my defense, as long as it existed in the garage, I could always have it. then again, I don't really drink my calories unless it's booze so there it sat for years. 

And really, did it matter that they were a year expired? I'm sure they were still fine. 

Well, Kev doesn't know this yet, but the greatest snack food of all time is coming back.

PLANTERS CHEEZ BALLS!!

Look, I will fight you if you think a better snack food exists. Because there is NO and I mean NO comparable cheese ball alternative out there. Planters set the bar so damn high and no one has yet to even meet, let alone surpass it. Utz tries, they really do, but they density isn't right. Then there's the 5lb canister that Costco rolls out during the holidays that I have yet to see while shopping alone. Let me tell you, husbands who don't love Cheese Balls aren't keen on buying a year's supply.

But Planters, that's the -ish. I can remember it like it was yesterday. The yellow lid, peeling back the seal and uncorking that canister, the smell....


Gee Lara, this was supposed to be a motivational blog about weight loss and being active and stuff. 


I started low carbing last week and full blown Keto on Sunday. I'm dreaming about Cheese Balls at this point. 

Alright, so literally the minute I found out about this I scurried over to figure out how I could get my hands on some. My BFF Amazon came to the rescue.


Hi, your chubby ass can't dig into 12 canisters of Cheeez Balls right now, but here's $5 to tide you over.

Yes, 12 because we need them when the lean times come again. And I have a kid now and kids love cheese balls right?

What did you LOVE that they no longer make? Short list for me: Jello pudding pops. WWF Wrestling Ice Cream bars ( I LOVED THESE) and Kudos bars.
Friday, July 20, 2018

Since the last time I posted

OMG I'm totally going to come back and blog and -ish. so said Lara a YEAR ago. Dang. For the last few months I've been thinking I should dust off this space instead of sitting here at night after Morgan goes to bed playing some B.S. game on my phone and watching My 600lb Life or Outdaughtered. (which I'm totally watching right now because I don't know anything about kids and what they do at various ages.)

During all the reruns of My 600lb Life they play previews of Doctor Pimple Popper and I couldn't help it, I had to watch one episode.


I was sitting there, watching the doctor lance this giant ass cyst that a guy had been growing on his forehead for FIVE YEARS. It looked like a horn, a giant red horn growing from his head and he hadn't gone to the doctor because he was afraid it might be cancer so he just let it grow on his head. THEN, THEN, there was the lady who literally had a hump growing on her shoulder and it was THREE POUNDS OF FAT.

You might call that rock bottom, and I thought, you know, I could blog instead of watch a chicken cutlet get pulled out of a lady's neck.

I was making some posts last year, totally on a roll and we had to do some unexpected remodeling downstairs.

 Every scrap of tile in the hall, kitchen and dining room was pulled up and the living room carpet. In addition, the "neutral" wallpaper in the hall and up the stairs was removed, light fixtures replaced, kitchen cabinets repainted, the entire downstairs repainted and I'm sure a bunch of other things I can't remember now.

Totally awesome when you have a 3 month old baby, dog, and mother in law who just began an extended visit. Have you ever stayed in an extended stay hotel with a dog and a 3 month old? I don't recommend it.

However, total bright side, we've been talking for years about selling our house and moving to something a little bigger with more space. We said as soon as we got a baby we'd do it and remodeling the entire downstairs only makes the house more marketable regardless of what a pain it was.

As of last week, we're on the market and the house is up for sale! If you know anyone who's looking for a great house in an awesome neighborhood in N. Raleigh NC, let me know!

9800 Tandem Ct, Raleigh, NC 27615 

9800 Tandem Ct, Raleigh, NC 27615

9800 Tandem Ct, Raleigh, NC 27615

9800 Tandem Ct, Raleigh, NC 27615

Seriously, does it not look so much better? No more orange, no more cream, no ugly tile, no wallpaper. It makes me not want to move. lol

So yea, that's my highly un-insightful initial blog post. Baby stuff, house stuff and sell my house stuff. 



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

No Yeast Pizza Crust




I made a pizza this weekend. This might not seem like a terribly big deal but believe me it was. Kev and I have been on a no-buy July kick and we were determined to eat though the stuff we had in the house by the end of the month. For me that means eating though all my Jenny food and not having naughty. (I owe you all a weight loss update, soon...) For Kev is was me making a pizza instead of ordering one. Baby steps folks.

We had mozzarella, pizza sauce and pepperoni in the house (they're staples) I figured why not? Let's make a crust. I did what everyone does, I headed over to Pinterest for some inspiration. I found a few recipes, make some tweaks and came up with my own version. Full disclaimer, this is NOTHING like a store-bought or pizzaria pizza. This is the pizza that when you're a kid you ask your mom if you can order out and she says
"no, we have all the ingredients for pizza in the house".
And you're like "IT'S NOT THE SAME"
Mom - "It'll be fine, this is just as good as Pizza Hut"

It's not Pizza Hut but it's still a decent version of homemade crust and you feel domestic AF when you finish.

No Yeast Pizza Crust:
2 1/2 cups of all purpose (or self rising) flour
3/4 Cup of water
2 Tbls Olive Oil
1 Tbls Baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Extras:
1 Tbls melted butter
All the oregano, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder you want

Pre-heat oven to 450

First; pour the water, olive oil, baking powder, salt and sugar in your mixing bowl, swirl it around. Then slowly add your flour. Or be like me and dump it all in at once and get a giant flour poof in your face. I used the dough hook on my mixer and it was nice. That dough hook never gets used.

After it was all mixed, I remembered that we have a pizza stone that we've used maybe once. I went digging in the cupboard looking for it. Found it, washed it off and felt I should put some olive oil or something on the stone since the curing died a long time ago.

Then I pulled out a cool mat I got a long time ago from Pampered Chef that has circles on it. It's the think I use to roll all my dough and keep the counter relatively clean. I slapped it on the mat and tried to roll it into a circle. Didn't work. Then I tired to be like a pizza guy and toss it in the air to make a circle. This also did not work. Finally I got it rolled out and onto the stone

Yea, dough

 Then I smeared on the melted butter and sprinkled on the cheese, oregano and garlic powder. Bake at 450 for 5 minutes


After the 5 minutes are up, take it out and add your toppings. In hindsight, I should have buttered and seasoned the crust edge.
This was apparently dangerously close to the edge.

I put it back in for another 15 minutes until it was golden brown and bubbly. Then I forgot to take a picture because I'm a shitty blogger. Imagine it's all golden brown with bubbly cheese.

Overall it was a pretty decent crust. In a pinch if you don't have yeast or yeast hates you and refuses to rise, this is a good alternative. I was concerned that it would taste like Bisquick pizza crust and it definitely didn't.

In summary, when you're trying to eat the stuff in your house and want a pizza that reminds you of the kind you mom made when you couldn't go to Pizza Hut, this is for you!


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Friday, July 28, 2017

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Recommendations


Didn't everyone and their mom do a post on their favorites from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale? I think they did. I did a great job of starting my post and not finishing, so there's that. Kev is off playing tennis and the baby is unbelievably sleeping on the porch. (She's like 5 feet from me). Why unbelievable? Because this baby doesn't fricking nap during the day. Idk, I was under the impression that babies napped. Nope, not this one. She totally sleeps at night, sometimes 7-8 hours, so I'll take a decent night's sleep over day nap any day.

Alright, on to my Nordstrom Sale recommendations. Nordstrom has no idea I exist and I make $0 if you click on the links, so knock yourself out.

First up, I started this post during the Early Access portion of the sale. It's good only for card members, and Nordstrom is the only store credit card I have, for this reason alone. Early access before all the good shit gets gone.

The good news is that all of this has arrived and I can give you an honest review of it.

Billabong Hooded Thermal Cardiagn
I ordered this cardigan because 1. Stripes and 2.Black and white. Do I "need" another black and white striped thing? Probably not, it is the only striped cardigan I own? Hell no. But let me tell you, OMG THIS CARDIGAN IS THE BEST. I don't know what it is but I love it so much in all the loving places. The fit is great for me and the cozy factor is off the charts.

Main Image - Billabong Make Way Thermal Hooded Cardigan
KEEPER!


Nordstrom Moto Washed Cotton Blend Leggings
I;ve been looking for a pair of moto leggings/pants for a while. I bought a pair of moto-esque jeans from Amazon a while ago and the black was sold out in my size. I got the blue and still check back periodically if they're back. This is them. Get them or the blue if they're your size.

Back to the leggings. I love these a lot. Like super a lot (your college degree at work right there). I struggle with the idea of wearing leggings to work. I love me some leggings but since I'm a people manager, I don't always feel it's right for me to be super casual. That being said, I'll probably wear these tomorrow.


product-image
KEEPER 

Halogen Knit Moto Jacket
I want to love this jacket. I really do. It's black, it's a good cut for me, but it's running a little small. It fits well, but I'd like a little more room. On the other hand, I'm back on the JC train after eating my way through the last few months and WILL get to my goal weight!

product-image
On the fence, keep for now, but keeping the receipt
If I decide later to return it I will, heck, I saw a lady returning her husband's underwear there the other day. Yes, his UNDERWEAR. She said they "fell apart". Now, after being married for a few years, I expect all men's underwear to need replaced. It's not what you'd call an "investment piece

Calson Assymetrical Drape Jacket
I thought this was a cute alternative to the one above, but it was sold out in my size. :( If you wear an XL, give it a try and let me know if you like it!

Main Image - CaslonĀ® Asymmetrical Drape Collar Terry Jacket (Regular & Petite)


Calson Slim Cut Utility Pants
These I love. They have a good bit of stretch to them and they fit really, really well. I got the 29 which is a 10 and I think they run a hair bit large. I thought about returning for the next size down but I wanted to wear them now.

You know what goes with green pants? Black and white stripes. Try it, I swear you'll love it.

Main Image - CaslonĀ® Slim Utility Pants (Regular & Petite )
KEEPER



Calson Swing Back Tee
This shirt is really cute. Really it is, but it runs big. I ordered the medium and could have definitely used the small. I don't wear a small. Unfortunately this one went back


product-image
Returned


Zela High Waist Crop Leggings 
I didn't actually order these, but I have a lululemon pair almost exactly like these and I have a deep love for the mesh cutouts. I have a pair of Zela pants and they're pretty nice and hold up well.


Main Image - Zella Glam High Waist Crop Leggings

Tea Collection Romper
Did you really think I didn't get anything for the baby? I mean really?

Fun fact, I LOVE baby rompers, so, so much. Rompers with long pants are my favorite. And baby stripes? Heck yes. Kev, however is not a fan of lining up the snaps. I bought this in 3-6 months and expect her to fit into it in the fall.

Main Image - Tea Collection Mix Print Romper (Baby Girls)

Tea Collection Dress
I also got her this dress. ADORABLE. I got this in 6-12 months for the spring. Girlfriend is still really little. She 'just' got out of newborn clothes and she's 12 weeks today.


Main Image - Tea Collection Double Decker Dress (Baby Girls)
Those are my picks for the sale! Let me know if you try any of the pieces!

Before I go, I wanted to let you know about the super awesome deal going on until the end of the month. You all know I love me some GYPO fashion challenges and I've participated in quite a few of them. I'm an annual member this year, loved the Spring challenge, and summer started right as I got a baby so no playing for me.

Anyways, until the end of July you can get 50% off ALL style challenges with the promo code FIRSTTIME50. Even though the challenge is over, having access to the capsule wardrobe is amazing. I'm not good at mixing and matching the pieces in my closet and tend to wear the same thing over and over, these challenges have showed me how to better use what I already have.

I also love shopping with a purpose instead of aimlessly wandering the store.

Click the links below to check them out!
Summer 2017 GYPO Style Challenge:  https://vm235.isrefer.com/go/SUMWW17/ljn162/
Summer 2017 Work Wear Challenge: https://vm235.isrefer.com/go/SUM2017/ljn162/
SAHM Casual Capsule Wardrobe Builder: https://vm235.isrefer.com/go/SAHM2017/ljn162/

Monday, July 17, 2017

Thoughts on Raleigh Supercon



This weekend in Raleigh all the fandoms came together to celebrate their geekiness in one place, Supercon. Apparently there's a ton of money to be made at these things and a bunch of random people that you don't associate with being part of anything sci-fi can all come together, charge $30 for a selfie (cash only) smile, kiss some babies and leave with a little pocket money until the next gig rolls around. One of the people on my team at work goes to a LOT of cons and did some research. Most get a few grand for showing up, then all the selfie and autograph $. Not too shabby.

Seriously, there was the most random collection of "stars" that I'd ever seen. Old WWF wrestlers, one of the original Village People, some Power Rangers, one of the Doctor Who Companions, nearly everyone who was Clerks, the guy who voices Super Mario. (I mean really? Does he say anything other than MARIO!) THAT GUY, THAT GUY made several thousand dollars this weekend and people waited in line to get an autograph. Then a bunch of comic book illustrators, some cosplay people and a bunch of crap I've never heard of.

There were so many, so, so many sights to behold there and of course I had some thoughts.

 - There are far too many Harley Quins here. Really, some were well done, the rest, not so much. OK, most not so much.

 - Greg "the Hammer" Valentine, I loved me some WWF when I was a kid, really did, the late 80s/early 90s wrestlers were the best. But why does he have an enormous booth? Ric Flair I get, he can have a big booth, especially since he lives in NC and can be seen in the wild. But Greg? Come on dude, that's just a waste. AND! oh AND his assistant was a little person. So much awesome at once.

These guys didn't know each other before the con, met there and walked around taking pictures with people like me. That folks, is the beauty of Supercon, just a bunch of cosplaying wrestlers coming together.

- There was a huge line for someone in a corner booth.
Kev - Who's over there
Me - I think it's a Power Ranger
Guy Standing near me - NO, it's THE Power Ranger. He's been on the show since the beginning.
Me - Uh huh...
Power Ranger Super Fan - He was all the colors and had all the powers
Me - Wow! (starts backing away)
PRSF - And he was on this show and this show. (clearly I've forgotten what he said)
Me - Oh no! The baby is getting fussy, I'd better check her diaper, gotta go! Spoiler, the baby wasn't fussy nor was her diaper full.

 - Dante from Clerks! (and Clerks 2) Is he even supposed to be here today? (Chuckles to self) I should ask him that. I'm sure EVERYONE is asking him that and has for the last 20 years. In college we were huge Kevin Smith fans. Back when he filmed Dogma in Pittsburgh and we were pretty sure we could meet Ben Affleck at a bar. Well, you probably still could.

 - The original Cowboy from the Village People was there. Randy Jones. Apparently Randy is originally from Raleigh which is partially why he's here. Now days he looks a little more like the biker, for the event he wore his cowboy gear though. I really wanted to go talk to him, but there wasn't anyone else there and I was afraid it'd be impossible to break away if I got started. All I want to know is how he escaped the late 70s/ early 80s AIDS free. I'm totally not being a jerk, he was in THE VILLAGE PEOPLE at the height of the scene. It was nothing but parties and Studio 54 and the Village People were at the top of the party list. It's more than impressive. I mean, that's Rock Hudson/ Rent/ Freddy Mercury AIDS, not Magic Johnson AIDS.

 - Jay of Jay and Silent Bob fame! (again huge Kevin Smith fans back in the day). According to my con-loving team member, "Jason Mews should pay me to take his autograph, who would pay him?". Jason Mews was selling little bottles of what he was calling "Mews Juice". I didn't get close because I was scared to see what it was. Mews Juice could be so, so many things.
Update - It's apparently coffee flavored vape juice. Vom.

 - "Hacksaw" Jim Dugan was signing tiny pieces of 2x4s. Awesome.

- Hey Jimmy Walker from Good Times! One time I was in Atlantic City getting a sub and he was there getting a sub too. Another time at the same sub shop Guy Fieri was there too and everyone was losing their minds. It took forever to get my sub that day and they forgot to put the special flavor stuff on the side. I guess they were too excited about Guy. I didn't have that problem when Jimmy was in front of me. Just another reason for me to dislike Guy Fieri.

 - My cosplaying baby was the cutest thing there.
BABY GROOT!

Finally they meet!

I had one goal at Supercon. One goal. To meet Levar Burton and have him read a book to my baby. I fricking LOVE Reading Rainbow! So, so much and Levar and Morgan would make my life.

Mission accomplished.

And that folks is the story of Raleigh Supercon. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

How we ended up with a baby

I think Kev and I did this the exact opposite of every other person who is looking to adopt a child. Apparently when people start down the adoption process they tell everyone they know. They make Facebook pages, have fundraisers and basically promote themselves five ways to Sunday. Yea, not us. We told immediate family, our direct bosses and the 3 people who wrote us letters of recommendations. That's it.

We started looking for an agency in January 2016. We looked at a few, had some conversations and eventually decided on Angel Adoptions in Illinois. They had a great placement rate (95%) and they only work with stated who have a 72 hour or less revocation period. There was no way we were going to wonder if a birth mom was going to change her mind for 30 days. Our contract with them was for 2 years.

After we signed with the agency we had to provide a packet of info to the agency, including our bios, snippets of information about us, our home, our family, pets, work, plans for post baby placement and a bunch of pictures. And in the pictures, no booze or sunglasses. Do you have any idea how many pictures of Kev and I exist where I'm not wearing sunglasses???? Like 3. I'm a delicate eyeball snowflake. We had to do a mini photo shoot to get some new pictures when I was at the height of my last fat. Awesome.

After we submitted our info the agency made a packet that they marketed to prospective birth moms but we wouldn't get onto their website until we had out home study completed. This one one of the areas we flew a little blind on. We had no idea how long it actually took for a home study. We signed with the agency at the end of February and I don't think our home study was completed and sent until August. We were still being shown, but we would have liked to have had the home study completed before signing to maximize our website presentation time.

Y'all a home study is intense! Our lady in NC is awesome and she didn't expect to see a completely ready baby room or expect the house to be baby-proofed. She really wanted to make sure there weren't crack pipes laying around and that we weren't psychotic. She came to the house 2x after we submitted a bunch of paperwork, including references and FBI background checks. I made an entire folder on Dropbox where I scanned everything we received and filed it there. FYI, the Scannable app is awesome. Use your phone to take a picture of a document and convert it to pdf. The best.

She completed the home study and sent a copy to the agency and us. I believe she called me "strong-willed" in her assessment. I can't imagine why.

The home study was complete, the profile up and posted and then the waiting really started. What happens is every month, expectant moms reach out and ask for information. Some never move forward beyond that, some ask to see the profiles of prospective adoptive parents, some choose a family and some decide to parent at the very end. You just never know what your situation will be.

We were really cautious. We didn't want to spend a ton of time and money preparing and then starting at an empty nursery. For us, I couldn't think of anything worse. I'd rather scramble at the last minute than stare at an empty room. Anyways... There are a ton of really frightening statistics. We heard that as many as 50% of matches fail with the majority of those being in the final week. That waiting period was really nerve -wracking. just waiting and waiting. Knowing that each month bettered your chances and would this be the month when someone chose you?

We got to March 2017 without even a nibble and we were getting a little frustrated. Angel Adoption reached  out to see if we were interested in updating our profile and sending in new pictures which we were making plans to do. Then, at the beginning of April, WE GOT THE CALL!

Well, it was an email. From Angel saying that they had a potential match with an expectant mother. We called the agency and they put the 2 of us in contact. At that time she was 6-ish months along (they thought) with a due date of 5/23. We talked and at the end of the first call, she said she's chosen us! We were like, "um, really? Are you sure?" and she said she was. It was a really surreal time, we were expecting there to be multiple calls, perhaps we'd travel to meet her, maybe she's choose someone else, maybe she'd change her mind, but at the end of that first call she was confident and we were cautiously optimistic.

After she expressed her interest in matching, we needed to get some things rolling with another agency, the one who facilitates the paperwork and actual adoption and secure an attorney in IL for when we went to court for the interim adoption agreement. After that, we just waited for the baby to be born. And she came early, on 5/4! We went from no baby to baby in about 5 weeks.

Now, I will say that this is probably NOT the way to go. There were a lot of things we didn't know to expect or how they were supposed to work, all we had was a stroller and pack and play that we bought on the 3rd, no diapers, no clothes, nothing. No child care lined up, no transition plan, you name it, we flew by the seat of our pants.

I'd recommend perhaps a little more planning, but really, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way, I can't imagine being matched and waiting months and months, full of uncertainty that she might change her mind, that something might go wrong. Five weeks of stress was plenty!

That was a little long winded and the story of actually going to get Morgan is another post for another day!
Thursday, July 6, 2017

Thanks Y'all


Image result for thank you meme

No really, thank you so much for all of the kind comments here and on Instagram. I've been really salty about this and the longer it went the madder I became. Like I said before. F them. F the haters.

So, where to begin... lots of things have happened since I last posted. Apparently 460+ pictures that need to be uploaded worth of things. Awesome.

Let's do roses and thorns. For those folks who aren't familiar, that's when you post something nice, (roses), and something not so nice, (thorns).

Rose: Still on Jenny Craig, still working on my weight loss journey!
Thorn: STILL on my trip, still not at goal. Let's be honest, I've eaten like crap over the last 2 months because making vegetables with one hand is hard. Eating cereal while bouncing a baby is easy. I've probably gained back 7-ish pounds from my lowest back in March.
Rose: I'm not stopping. This week is my first full week back on track and I've been to the gym 2x this week so far. Coordinating gym and baby isn't easy. In a month I can take her to the kid's club at the gym. One month more...

Image result for week one diet meme

Rose: I won the Halloween costume contest at work. 

There's nothing bad about dressing up as Hulk Hogan



Rose: Took my first trip to Texas for work in November. I've never been to Texas before and in the last several months I added 4 more states to the list of "states I've visited".
Thorn: It was over the election. It was rough to be in another state and be "on" when all I wanted to do was hide under the covers and drink wine. 
Thorn: AND I missed Hillary coming to NC State the evening before the election WITH BON JOVI. Bon Jovi came with her to the midnight rally. I would have lost my shit. So bummed about that one.
Rose: But hey, you know, Texas was new and it was Austin so most people were super sad and protesting in the streets.
Rose: The brisket was good. 

Rose: We went to NYC and NJ for the family Hanukkah party for the first time.
Rose: NYC during the holidays is cold and awesome. 


Thorn: Really though? I ate my weight in bagels. Other than that, nothing was bad.

Rose: We went to New Orleans to celebrate Kev's birthday and that was pretty awesome.
Thorn: Holy shit I had no idea just how devastating Hurricane Katrina was. That was some BS.
Rose: NOLA is great. The food, the booze... noms.

Rose: WE GOT A BABY! Come on now, OF COURSE this is hands down the best thing that's happened in the past few months. There's a much longer story to tell, which I will later. The adoption agency, the matching, the how completely unprepared we were. I mean, we've wanted a baby for a very long time but I'd never changed a diaper in my life until we got to the hospital. And we'd purchased 0 things before she arrived. Literally nothing. I was wandering around Target texting my SIL asking how many onesies a baby needed. Again, another story to tell.
Thorn: There will always be bumps along the adoption road, but in the end, it was so worth it.


Super quick recap, but let's be honest, you know I have some thoughts on baby things. So many thoughts on baby things, but this will by no means turn into a "mommy blog". Kill me first please.

Thanks everyone!