Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I wanted to share a recent experience that's been a goal of mine for a few years now, and the journey it took to get there: running a half marathon! I'd say for three years now, it's always been one of my goals for the new year. This summer, while in Gulf Shores, Alabama with my family, my sister-in-law, Jen, and I decided to just pick one and sign up. So we did.

We signed up for the Little River Canyon Half Marathon, an extremely scenic, very hilly course in Fort Payne, Alabama. The race took place partially on the grounds of a national park and was right in the middle of the government shutdown. Luckily, we were still able to run.

Andrew snapped this beautiful photo while we were running. It really was a scenic race!
It was a tiny race (150 runners) and a woman in a rocking chair wrote down our times as we crossed the finish line. It was nice, though—part of the run reminded us of Hershel's farm on the Walking Dead and there were lots of dogs and farmhouses on the route. The race benefited environmental education in Alabama, which was perfect since my sister-in-law is an environmental educator in Alabama!

Plus, we got these really cool salamander finisher's medals.
We're not sure what our official time was, because the race doesn't seem to have posted them and I didn't hear what the little lady called out to me as we crossed the finish line, but I don't believe it was very fast.

 This is what we looked like before the race:

And this is what we looked like after:
Terrible picture but it makes me laugh.
We used this plan to train, but I don't think I'll use it again. It was quite intense, with two 11 milers and two 10 mile runs. I skipped a few long runs and a few of the mid-week longer runs. I think next time, I'll find a slightly less intense plan, if that does exist.

Training in the heat of the summer was also not idea. Andrew hid water bottles for me along my route, and I did one of the 10-mile runs on the dreadmill. For our 12-mile run, Jen came into town which was a huge help.

I will definitely be running another half, most likely in February when Oxford hosts the Oxford Run for Hope Half Marathon. Does anyone have any tips or a training plan recommendation? Or, advice for training for a race in cold weather? They are much needed!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bringing home bar cart + life with dogs

Remember this $35 bar car from IKEA? I couldn't stop thinking about it after I saw it all set up in the Atlanta store, so I ordered it in early May. It came in pieces, as IKEA items tend to do, but Andrew put it together while I was studying for my final and we are quite pleased with it! The quality is good for a $35 bar cart, but the drawer sticks quite a bit. I didn't even know it had a drawer and we don't really use it, but it does have some issues there.

We ended up putting our cookbooks on the bottom shelf, because glassware and dog tails don't quite go together. It sits in the corner of our dining room area and may eventually become a coffee cart. We also recently scored a new living room rug at Tuesday Morning for $60—usually, we don't find such deals like this. Allow Sawyer to model the rug for you:

It's indoor/outdoor, which we hope will hold up with the dogs a bit better! If you have indoor pets, do you have any tricks to keeping your house looking nice (besides sweeping constantly)? I've learned that it is probably best to match your floors to your dogs—our dark wood shows every Sawyer and Ham hair!

(P.S. - Please ignore the two-toned outlet next to the cart ... we're working on switching all of those out!)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Leather Gift Guide: Three Year Anniversary

Almost three years ago (in August) Andrew and I tied the knot in a little outdoor ceremony in Oxford, Mississippi. The heat index was 114. I know it's not quite August yet, but the 90 degree heat has me thinking about our anniversary and, of course, anniversary gifts! I like to stick to the traditional wedding gift themes, although last year, while we were saving for our condo's down payment, we skipped cotton. Year three is leather, which is right down Andrew's alley, so I've put together a little gift guide of affordable-yet-thoughtful year three anniversary gifts.

For the thirsty man, I'm loving this leather wrapped cocktail shaker from Mark & Graham ($79) Add in your husband's libation of choice and some homemade blue cheese stuffed olives, and make a night of it.

For the future executive (or professor or writer extraordinaire or lawyer—whatever your husband should aspire to) this personalized MacBook air sleeve ($129) doubles as a padfolio, with plenty of pockets for business cards and pens. My husband would probably store his notepads in the pockets instead of his computer.

For the traveler, you can't go wrong with a toiletry bag (left - leather mini Dopp kit from Gent Supply Co. $80, right - small everyday leather travel pouch from Mark & Graham, $79) filled with your husband's favorite products (Anthony Logistics for Men shave cream for Andrew) and a subscription to Dollar Shave Club, the best subscription box ever.

I would have a hard time choosing between these gifts, had Andrew's toiletry bag not broken last month. With a trip or two in our near future, this is the obvious choice, though that padfolio may be making an appearance at his birthday in October. I'll just have to figure out what else to put in the bag, since he already has a Dollar Shave Club subscription!

Do you celebrate with traditional anniversary gifts? If so, what have you gifted?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Skinny Summer Salads

The official start of summer may be Friday, but it's in full swing down in Mississippi. We're having 90+ degree days and summer thunderstorms that are here one minute and gone the next. With the sudden rising temperatures, we've been craving cool, light lunches in the Abernathy household.

One of my favorite cooking substitutes is Greek yogurt, and adding it to classic creamy salads is an easy way to lighten them up without losing flavor. I make these chicken salad and broccoli salad recipes all the time for quick lunches, work potlucks and other events, and they disappear pretty quickly, so I think that's a good sign.  Andrew loves the chicken salad for weekday lunches as well. I'm not a great salad photographer, so please know that they are delicious even if they don't quite look it in the photos!

Skinny Chicken Salad
1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, shredded (about 3 cups)
2 Tbsp. non-fat Greek yogurt (suggested: Fage)
2 Tbsp. light mayonnaise
1 1/2 cup sliced green grapes
½ cup shaved almonds
3/4 cup dried cranberries

1.) Combine shredded chicken, grapes, almonds and cranberries and mix well. 
2.) Toss chicken mixture with Greek yogurt and mayonnaise (enough to cover but not saturate.) 
3.) Refrigerate for at least an hour. (Best if refrigerated overnight.) Feel free to increase or decrease amount of grapes, almonds and cranberries depending on personal tastes. If it's a little dry, add more Greek yogurt or mayo. Serve over lettuce, on whole wheat crackers or as a chicken salad sandwich. Oh, and don't forget to use the leftover chicken bones to make a delicious stock!

Light(er) Broccoli Salad
2 heads of broccoli, florets pulled apart (about 3 cups)
3-4 green onions, chopped
1/4 c. slivered almonds or sunflower seeds
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 -  c. cheddar cheese
3/4 c. dried cranberries

For the dressing:
2/3 c. Greek yogurt
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

1.) Combine broccoli, green onions, almonds, cheese and cranberries in a bowl.
2.) Mix dressing by whisking yogurt, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl.
3.) Toss broccoli mixture with dressing.
4.) Crumble bacon on top and mix in.
5.) Refrigerate for at least an hour.

What are your summer favorites? Do make any adjustments to turn classic recipes into (almost) guilt free dishes?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Homemade Chicken Stock

Andrew and I are often surprised to find out how easy it is to make a homemade version of a product we're used to picking up in the store like enchilada sauce, salsa, etc. Some ... not so much. (Side note: Anyone got a good, easy homemade ice cream recipe?) But, many are so, so worth it in terms of deliciousness, ease and finances.

Homemade chicken stock is one of them. It's so easy to make, and as long as you've got a chicken carcass you can just use what you've got in the fridge. An added plus? Your house will smell wonderful while it cooks! (Disclaimer: Your dogs may whine and claw at the stove.)

There's lots of easy recipes out there like this one and this one. We like to customize ours to our tastes and end up kind of just throwing things into the pot. Here's how we do it:

You'll need:
Chicken bones with some meat still on them - (We use the carcasses we've got leftover from a Crockpot chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken)
Onion (cut in half or chopped)
Carrots (handful)
Celery (if you've got it - we didn't have any this time)
Peeled garlic, smashed or minced (handful)
Peppercorns (palmful)
salt to taste (many recipes recommend to save the salting part until you're using the stock, so you can skip this if saving for later)


1.) Throw everything into a pot.

2.) Add water so that it just covers the carcass(es)

3.) Bring to boil on medium -high

4.) Simmer on medium-low for at least 2 hours - the longer the better

4.) Let cool - skim fat off if desired. (We didn't)

5.) Use immediately, refrigerate or freeze for later! (Or all three - we used two carcasses from a double batch of chicken salad I made last week for lunch and had plenty to use for dinner and to save for later!)

What's something you've found incredibly easy to make from scratch? Do you make chicken stock? And, again, who has an easy homemade ice cream recipe?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Goodbye May, Welcome Summer

I slacked on blogging in May, so here's a little recap of what we've been up to!

1.) Sawyer Sunshine turned three on May 4! He celebrated with a piece of dry toast, crusts cut off. (His favorite.)
2.) I took a selfie on my 26th birthday with the toilet in the background. It felt appropriate. Someone please teach me how to accessorize!
3.) Exam week consumed my life for a little while. Now I'm in my June session statistics class, which is also consuming my life!
4.) In lieu of a birthday cake, we had birthday oysters on May 9th and rang in 26 at our favorite restaurant.
5.) Graduation weekend is a perk of living in a college town. An exhausting weekend to work, but you can't help but feel the excitement. 
6.) On May 18 - 25, we spent a week at the beach with friends to kick off summer!
7.) Rainy days at the beach mean manicures, pedicures and outlet mall shopping.
8.) Awkward prom pose is a great way to hide the bulge after a week of eating, drinking and laying on the beach.
9.) Apparently, May was full of seafood. This steamed crab was delicious.
10.) This fried crab was really good too.
11.) We had a shrimp boil in our ocean-front condo the second night at the beach. Delicious.
12.) Sunset the last night at the beach. We got home Memorial Day weekend just in time to pick up the dogs from boarding. I spent the rest of the weekend studying for my summer session class while Andrew watched Army Wives. (Don't ask!) 

How was your May? Are you looking forward to summer? I cannot believe it's already June!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cheers to 26

I apologize for the blogging silence recently! I had a final paper and exam in my grad school class (just found out I got an A!), and working for a university means that all hands are on deck for graduation day. In the meantime, I  turned 26! Twenty-five was a pretty big year: we bought our first home, I started MBA grad school and made it through three classes and we took a bunch of trips—St. Louis, Birmingham, San Francisco and Nashville, to name a few.

I feel as though 25 was a challenging year (anything that involves me and finance is challenging), in a good way that included learning a lot of new things.

So, I thought I'd toast the arrival of 26 with a mint julep—in the new monogrammed mint julep cups Andrew ordered for my birthday! Mint juleps are a classic southern drink, and the most simple ones have just four ingredients.

Classic Mint Julep

7 fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon simple syrup
2 oz. bourbon
Crushed ice

1.) Combine mint leaves, syrup and bourbon in a mint julep cup and crush, using a muddler, the end of a wooden spoon or some other object.

2.) Fill cup with crushed ice.

3.) Stir gently to combine.

4.) That's it! Enjoy!

Cheers to 26. This year, I hope to run a half marathon, continue my MBA work, improve my public speaking skills, study for my APR (accreditation in public relations) and, of course do fun things like travel! We are off to the beach next week for the first of two summer trips, so traveling will be off to a good start.

How do you ring in a new year? Do you have any great drink recipes we should try?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Best Subscription Box Ever

Ok, so it's not quite a box. And, it's kind of for guys. Actually, it is definitely for guys. But it's the best monthly mail subscription Andrew and I have tried, and we've sampled quite a few.

Meet Dollar Shave Club.

You may have already heard of it. Inc. just named Dollar Shave Club to its top 25 "Most Audacious" companies for its viral YouTube video "Our Blades are F***ing Great," which has more than 10 million hits and cost a fraction of what more established brands spend on marketing.

It's really simple. Select one of three razors: The Humble Twin ($1 monthly for five razor cartridges), the 4X "Lover's Blade" ($6 monthly for four cartridges) or the Executive ($9 monthly for four  cartridges). Your first package includes the handle and blades, and then Dollar Shave Club automatically charges your card each month and ships your new blades before you've had a chance to run out or use the same dull blade for six months. Genius!

I bought Andrew a subscription for his birthday in October because he was always running out of razors. Specifically, I chose the 4X Lover's Blade because I am the guilty party in this description:


Seventy-two dollars for a year's worth razor cartridges? Yes please! Even with added shipping and handling, that's way cheaper than what he used to pay at the grocery store. If I wasn't already stealing blades from my husband, I'd order my own.

What's your favorite subscription box? Have you found one that makes your life easier or is just pretty cool in general? Do tell!

(Seriously, do! Subscription boxes are one of my new favorite topics—I get Glambag/Ipsy, the occasional Julep and have tried Birchbox. Andrew subscribed to Birchbox Man for a few months, but $20 was a little out of our price range. What else should we be trying? They are quite convenient when you live in a small town like we do without much access to lots of shopping.)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hello Monday.

I think this photo of Ham captures my feelings about Monday pretty accurately. This week brings studying for finals and finishing a final paper as well as work and class. But, on the bright side, after finals is my birthday (which means a delicious dinner at our favorite restaurant, Snackbar) and a week-long trip to the beach! I will hopefully be able to blog more than last week—we had an arts festival in town this weekend and visited with lots of friends and family, so I didn't have much time to sit down.

What are your plans for this week? I hope it includes having a great Monday.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Happiest Place on Earth: Ikea

Andrew and I visited his parents in Atlanta this weekend, and in addition to family time, celebrating his mom's birthday and eating some great meals, we visited Ikea for the first time! Ikea, y'all, Ikea. For the first time. A new (financially limited) homeowner's dream. We walked out with some goodies and lots of ideas for future home improvements (bigger items that we'd like to measure for before purchasing, mainly). So I don't forget some of our ideas, I'll share. But first, our loot:

The candles are on our mantel, which is coming along quite nicely with the DIY succulent garden.

And the Picasso prints hang on the main wall in our living room—we've been in search of original artwork for this wall since we moved in, but who knew a $40 Ikea print would do the trick? (We mainly like this one because of the little dog in the middle.)

The brandy glasses were Andrew's purchase. He's wanted them (for beer—however, he seems to be filling them with wine) since we visited the Cheeky Monk a couple years ago in Colorado. (I thought I had a really cute photo of one of us with the giant glasses at the Cheeky Monk, but alas, I think it died with my last phone.) However, here is Andrew hand modeling his new glasses:

So that's our loot! We stuck to small stuff this time around, but have some serious ideas for the next time we visit Atlanta. (You think we would have, um, gotten chairs or bar stools so we can eat without Ham trying to jump onto our plates from the back of the couch. Alas, we did not. Maybe later?)

Here are a few of the ideas we have for our future Ikea trips:

We're going to do some major work on our deck this summer, and I love cozying it up with a small patio set:

5-piece outdoor suite—$119

I also love this small bar cart. (Perhaps to display these monogrammed cups that I do not own?) It's $25, so it may be a little flimsy but I loved they way they had it set up in the showroom. (See below.)
Bar cart—$25
 I wouldn't go for such a retro look, but I think it's pretty cute for $25!

And last, but not least, shelving. I love shelving, especially when maximizing space. I have a vision for our dining room that involves some type of gallery shelving that displays mason jars of rice and couscous and other items, making it functional and cute. At Ikea, we found multiple options but I liked these the best:

White wall shelf—$14.99

 To sum up our trip (excitement yet slightly crazed) here's a crazy eye photo:

Where do you shop for inexpensive, cute home decor? Do you like Ikea?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

5 Things I'm Loving: April Edition

How is it already halfway through April? Time flies in the spring and it's about to pick up big time in this college town. We've got a music and art festival and 10k in town next weekend and then it's time for finals, commencement (if only I was graduating—I'm one year into my three-year, part-time MBA plan) and then, finally, a much-need vacation before a June full of statistics night classes! So since we're well into the month, here are a few of my April loves.

First, monogrammed mint julep cups!
$46-$50 for set of 2

Specifically I want a mint julep cup so that I can make this Concord grape mint julep from Garden & Gun. I have literally wanted to make it for years, since I saw it on the cover of the magazine but you can't make a mint julep without the proper accessories!

Image via

2. Floppy straw hats
Pretty sure I'm going to pick up this $8 colorblocked hat from JCPenney today. It comes in white, black, brown, orange, pink and turquoise, and did I mention it's only $8? This is perfect for hitting the beach this summer.

 3. Cilantro
 We just bought some cilantro plants for our salsa garden and it smells.so.good. Where do you stand on the cilantro debate? Love it or hate it?

4. Tortoise shell sunglasses
This one is kind of a cop out because I already have a pair of tortoise shell wayfarers, but they're a couple years old, scratched and gnawed on (by dogs of course) so I've got my eye on these pairs:
Tory Burch cat-eye sunglasses in spotty tortoise
Light Havana Ray-bans

 But the best part of April? 
5. Spring itself, of course! 
Spring flowers, thunderstorms, sunshine, warm weekends, after-work runs, dog walks—I love it all.
(Even though three bugs hit me in the eye on my after-work jog, which was really gross.)

Who doesn't love a daffodil with a beagle in the background?
What are you loving about April? The list could go on (neon, neon, neon) but I have to fold clothes mountain, which is the large pile of clothes that has amassed on our dining room table. It has been sitting there since Sunday. (Remember, our table has no chairs. However, while this seems like a good excuse I am told it is not.)

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fresh Pico de Gallo

Andrew is a connoisseur of salsas, but fresh, simple, six-ingredient pico de gallo is his favorite. We eat it with chips, add it to tacos or taco salad and top steaks with it—delicious!

1 small white onion, diced (or 1/2 a large onion, diced)
2 large Roma tomatoes, cored and diced (taking out the seeds reduces excess moisture)
1 large jalapeno, cored and diced (or 2 small jalapenos, cored and diced)
juice of 2 limes (we used 3 in this recipe because they were really small)
Cilantro, chopped, to taste
Salt to taste

1. Mix diced onion, jalapenos, tomatoes and chopped cilantro in bowl.
2. Wash hands after handling jalapeno! I forget this step a lot, and it is no fun putting contacts in the next morning.
3. Squeeze lime into onion, jalapeno, tomato and cilantro mixture.
4 Salt to taste.
5. Toss, taste and adjust ingredient ratios if needed.
6. Toss and refrigerate. (Or eat immediately—we think it's better if it sits for a little while.)
7. Enjoy with chips, steak, tacos or whatever you'd like!

Chopping onion.
Coring jalapenos.
Dicing jalapeno.
Andrew requested I add this photo so that he could tell the blogosphere to always choose the ugliest tomato as it will be the most delicious.
Chopping cilantro. We add a lot, but you should add it to taste.
I come in and do the fun things, like squeezing limes and drinking wine.
Sprinkling salt.
Ta-da! Spring has arrived!
Do you make homemade salsa? Please share if so! We are planting a salsa garden soon and hope to try all kinds this summer.

Very excited to link up with Ali at Jam Hands and Kerrie, Jessica and Jamie for Wonderful Food Wednesday! Check it out for some delicious recipe ideas.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Green Thumb - Succulent Garden

It was in the 70s and sunny on Saturday, so I dropped Andrew off with a friend (to clarify, we are talking about my husband—we share a car) and set off to plant a succulent garden. I've been looking for something green to go on our problem fireplace for months now, but I'm not very good a keeping plants alive (fingers crossed for the succulents), so I thought this might be a good way to add a pop of green with little maintenance. Last time we had succulents, Ham got onto the kitchen counter (long story) and ate them out of the windowsill. Thus is life.

You need:

A container with a large opening (Martha says a large opening helps prevent accumulation of moisture.)
Cactus, palm and citrus potting soil

These are pretty simple to plant, although one of my little succulents fell apart. I planted a few pieces of it anyway and am rooting for those tiny ones to take root! They're the three small ones that look alike in the photo below.

I ended up arranging these on top of the fireplace, and while it's not quite there yet I think this is a definite improvement! (Check out part one of my house tour for the mantel's last arrangement.) I have plans to put flowers or branches in that brown vase for height. That cute glass frame was an engagement gift from Nikki at the Fashionable Wife! I still love it.

I won that cute A print (by Arian) a few years ago through a giveaway at This Life of Ours. It's the only giveaway I've ever won, though I did win a pair of boots recently in a Pin It To Win It contest. The boots, however, did not make it onto the mantel.
What to do, what to do about that empty space in the middle? Ideas are welcome. Our fireplace tends to collect clutter, so I put a ceramic flower pot up to hold things like wallets, keys, dog leashes, etc.

Did y'all have nice weather this weekend? If so, did you plant anything? Linking up today with Molly and Carly at #YOLOMONDAYS.