Old AF: 10 signs middle age is just around the corner

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I'm not the biggest fan of birthdays. Yep, I said it and I know it's kind of a strange thing to say and a strange thing to think and I only bring it up because well, it is my birthday and so of course I'm thinking about it. (Plus, I'm the birthday girl so I do what I want! Ha. Kidding.) I should probably clarify though, I really enjoy celebrating other people's birthdays! It's just my own I get weird about. Every year -for whatever reason- this is when when my mind turns to annoyingly serious topics like assessing where I'm at in life and contemplating aging and my own mortality and my (basically non-existent) relationship with my mom. Super uplifting stuff, right? But whatever, I'm pretty much out of the funk now (it didn't hurt that I picked up a shift last night and my partner showed up with a chocolate mousse cake and then bought me ice-cream. Sugar wins the day every time as far as I'm concerned!) 



So now I'm ready to put all those obnoxiously serious and slightly depressing thoughts back into their little box until next year, and celebrate with a rare date-night with the husband. (And also by poking fun at myself and this whole getting-older nonsense because that's kind of my jam.)  


Old AF: 10 Signs Middle Age is just around the corner

(And I'm right there with you!)





1. You can measure the ownership of at least one item in your closet in terms of decades, rather than months or years. 

2. At least one body part hurts any time the weather changes.

3. Most make that all of your current skincare products contain the words "wrinkle" or "anti-aging" somewhere on the bottle.

my current fave cleanser

4. You congratulate yourself for staying up past 10pm, and feel like a boss if you make it to midnight.

5. You no longer mind getting carded for alcohol. When it happens. Which is almost never.

6. You've lived long enough to see the return of trends that were pretty terrible on their first go-round and haven't gotten any better with time (I'm looking at you snap-crotch bodysuits and high waisted jeans.)

7. Speaking of trends, you now have to choose carefully. A 20 year old may be able to rock the granny sandal look, but when you try them on the vibe is more, "Hey, check out my new orthopedics!"


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8. You rock out to one of your favorite songs from high school or college and then realize the radio is actually on an oldies station. (And yes, this happened to me the other day with Nirvana. Yikes!)

9. You know precisely how many units of Botox (38) you need to keep you looking like a fresh-faced 20-something. (Downside: feeling like Cinderella at the ball at midnight when the effects finally wear off and all your little lines come back to say hello!)


Who needs a filter when you've got a little Botulinum Toxin?!

And last, but certainly not least:

10. You catch yourself looking around at your coworkers and making a mental tally of how many are young enough to "be my kids." (Hint: the answer is around 25% for me. Lol)


How do you feel about your birthday? Have any of the "signs" of middle age hit you yet? :-)


Like a rockstar.

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You guys, today is the first day of Spring Break! Woot! And I'm going to party like it's 1999. (Prince got it right...that was a good year for parties. And yes, I realize that makes me sound old AF.) Except no, I'm only kidding because you know, 2 year-old and grown-up responsibilities and trying to save money do not make for any sort of epic Easter vacay. But that's okay, because I have what feels like a bajillion days to revel in the fact that I don't have to see math, do math, or think about math whatsoever. And that is pretty freaking awesome. 

So how am I spending this first day of break? Well, after a long hiatus we renewed our Costco membership recently so I made a little trip over there in a massive downpour this morning. I don't know if I was too early, or if things have just changed over the years or what, but instead of all those delightful sample tables full of sausages and pita chips and what have you that used to be freaking everywhere (anyone remember the Coscto date on Kaitlyn's season of The Bachelor?) I encountered a lone employee who asked me if I would like to "feel" her pillowcase. "Because it's made of bamboo." Erm, no...think I'll pass. I did score a 45-pack of toilet paper for $16 though, and mama loves a bargain so that got me doing a little happy dance (not to be confused with the pee-pee dance, although it's remarkably similar.) Who the hell needs 45 rolls of toilet paper, you ask? Yeah, I haven't really figured that part out yet. I'm guessing it'll last awhile. 

Oh, and let's not forget the epic robot I built from Mega Blocks this afternoon at Madi's request, and which she promptly smashed to pieces so I could build her a castle instead:


Mega Blocks master, right here. Ha

Sometimes I have to laugh at myself that this is where I'm at right now: that Costco and legos are the highlights of my day. It seems so trivial, but at the same time I'm trying to soak it up. I know time is flying by and before I know it I'll be wrapped up in full-time work or full-time school again and I'll miss these days of being at home with baby girl doing the simple things. 

Speaking of baby girl, we did get in a nice little hike this past weekend before the rain started. It's the first hike we've done since she outgrew her carrier and she basically ran a solid mile before asking to be carried. She doesn't know it yet, but I plan to lure her into her first 5k in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, it was refreshing just to be surrounded by all the greenery and the gorgeous spring flowers dotting the hills.






What are you doing for spring break this year? Is it even on your radar? Tell me you're going somewhere tropical and exotic so I can live vicariously! :-)

Be The Match and other Friday favorites

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So I completely forgot about today being St. Patrick's Day. Who does that? What kind of blogger am I?! I'm seriously the worst when it comes to remembering/celebrating non-Christmas or birthday occasions...no themed outfits, no hand-crafted decorations, no specially Pinterested desserts. I'm basically the black sheep of blogland, and clearly I need to get my act together. With the next holiday in T minus a week and a half, I'm kinda running out of time here! No pressure.  

I do have some favorites to tell you about from this last week so that's something, right?

1. Today was easily my favorite part of the week. The last 5 or 6 days have been kind of non-stop between work, school and family stuff so it felt really good to have a whole day of quality time with my crazy girl. We took advantage of the gorgeous spring weather and spent the afternoon playing at the "big park," capping off our outing with rainbow sprinkled frozen yogurt. 








2. These nail polishes from Julep! Dianna is literally my perfect shade of blue, and Margot is an gorgeous gold metallic with just the right amount of sparkle. These colors take me right to my happy place. Now, if I could only stop stressing out about math and quit biting my nails (I know, gross) I could actually wear them instead of just admiring them in their pretty packages. 





3. Starburst Jellybeans. I need Easter to be over. Like, yesterday. I'm doing my best not to spend our lifesavings in the candy aisle of Target, but the struggle is real. All the best sugary treats go on sale this time of year, and that list includes Starburst Jellybeans. I don't even like jelly beans, but these are next level. *Nom nom*


4. Criminal. My latest in a string of podcast obsessions. Loooooove. I'm also about to check out a podcast called What Should I Read Next, because my inner book nerd is a little giddy looking at the list of books they discuss. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that to be a good one. 

5. Be The MatchAwhile back a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to Be The Match, the National Marrow Donor Program. I had never heard about it before, but I happened to be on duty working a very slow shift at the time so I clicked over to the website. I learned that the organization has facilitated over 74,000 bone marrow transplants through a huge registry of volunteers, and that donating marrow isn't at all the huge ordeal you might think! It only took a few minutes to fill out the application and within a couple days I had received a kit of painless cheek swabs with a postage paid return envelope. If you haven't signed up, I'd totally encourage you to do it! You might get an amazing opportunity to save a life someday. :-)




And last but not least, I figured I should leave you with a laugh. Happy Friday!!


    

**As usual, linking up with Momfessionals & Sincerely, Paula!**

Dazed and Confused: The Bachelor season finale

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Ladies and gentlemen, it's the moment we've all been waiting for. Or at least, the moment I've been waiting for because I have no life. It's Bachelor finale time!

Chris Harrison kicks off the live show with a special announcement. What would a finale be without a "special announcement?" Lame, that's what. Surprise! He tells us we may be having a Bachelor wedding after the show! He really plays it up: Ben's pastor is here and both girl's parents are waiting in the wings. Because that won't be awkward for anyone.

Is it, though?

Back in Jamaica, Jojo and Lauren are both feeling happy and confident going into the final few days because Ben has told them each that he loves them. 




Lauren is first up on the chopping block to meet the parents and she looks very cool and put together. Mom warns her that Ben can get "pretty intense" and "worked up" sometimes, but Lauren isn't going to let a little thing like Ben not being perfect bother her, and at the end of the day she tells Ben "Ok, meeting your parents is the last thing I needed. I'm ready to get engaged." You go girl, with that confidence. Dayumm.




Jojo arrives for her round of friendly parental interrogation looking nervous (which is a little endearing) and carrying a conch shell (which is a little...odd.) Overall, Ben's parents seem more relaxed and comfortable with Jojo, who cries when she tells Ben's dad how in love she is. 

***** *****

Ben's last date with Lauren once again involves hanging out on a boat in a gorgeous location while Lauren once again wears the shortest most uncomfortable looking shorts known to womankind. 




Our Bachelor is quiet and broody and wonders if this thing he has with Lauren is just too easy and too good to be true (to which I say, probably yes. But I'm kind of a cynic.) Ben tells her, "No matter what happens, you made me a better person" which sounds a bit like goodbye and Lauren is perceptive enough to realize she may not have this in the bag after all. She tells us she feels defeated and confused, but the girl does a great job of playing it cool in a situation where I would be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.




Jojo's last date with Ben is at yet another gorgeous waterfall where shiz gets real. Really real. And I have to say, their conversation is so much deeper, and more honest and raw than anything we've seen between Ben and Lauren that...I don't know...I might be tipping toward Team Jojo. She's so excited to talk to him about their plans for the future: where they'll live, how they'll make things work after the show. It's clear Ben isn't jumping on the bandwagon so Jojo asks if he feels good, to which he replies "Um. That's a loaded question." He tries to distract her from that less-than-entusiastic response with the old makeout-and-make-her-forget technique, but it doesn't work. Jojo wants some answers. 

Eventually they move the party to the bathroom floor -because why not- where Ben assures Jojo of how much he loves her, and then oh so subtly mentions that he also loves someone else. So, there's that. 




And now Ben is just confused, you guys! So confused and lost! Until Neil Lane shows up with the bling and the hard-hitting questions ("Have you picked someone?") And suddenly, yes! Ben knows exactly which finger deserves to wear that Neil Lane sparkler. 

Jojo and Lauren prepare for the big proposal/breakup and Jojo's gown looks absolutely stunning. Lauren's dress is a gorgeous color, but super boring so I suppose it's a fitting choice. 

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Jojo is the first to step out of the helicopter which we all know is the mark of Bachelor doom. She eloquently pours her heart out to Ben while he fidgets and can't quite meet her eye. Finally he tells her that he didn't know if he would find love in this process, but he did. With her! It's just that, he loves someone else more. Whoops! So sorry! IMO at this point Jojo has more right to be pissed/hurt/completely confused than any other contestant in Bachelor history, but she handles herself well and leaves with class.

Ben is crying and clearly torn up about his decision. "I'm about to get on one knee and ask a woman to marry me and I was confused about that because that's how much I love Jojo." Shut the front door. What?!




So now Ben calls Lauren's dad to ask his blessing on their marriage saying he feels "entirely confident" in their relationship which seems disingenuous to me at this point. And then Lauren arrives and there's a proposal and it's beautiful. I'm happy for them, but after all that turmoil I'm kind of meh on the whole thing and don't get swept up in the love or ugly cry at the romance of it all like I usually do.

What a season! 

Highlights from After the Final Rose (because this post is long enough, dammit!): Jojo is named as the next Bachelorette (love it!)




Ben re-proposes to Lauren (weird) and no one gets married. Boy, Chris Harrison, you really had me going there for a hot second. Not.

So that's that! Caio, Bachelor Nation. See you on the flip side (which we all know means see you in May for the Bachelorette premier!)

Congrats! We made it!

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Well, hello friends! If you're reading this, then I suppose it's safe to assume we've all made it through this most dangerous of Mondays (fist bump for us!) 

I had no idea there was anything particularly noteworthy or commendable about surviving this particular Monday until my friend Erin brought an interesting fact to my attention. Did you know that if you live in an area that follows Daylight Savings Time, you run a 25% greater than normal risk of having a heart attack on the Monday following the "spring forward" time change? You're also at an increased risk for being involved in a car accident or a work place injury. I'm not gonna lie, as annoyed as I personally get with the whole DST thing, I find it difficult to believe that a mere 60 minutes could cause all that chaos. But this is apparently a studied and documented phenomenon. Craziness, I tell you. But we're survivors, right? Go us!




I actually wouldn't have been too shocked to have made it onto the casualty list after the last couple of days, to be honest (thanks to some #seriousgluttony.) Saturday started off with a birthday brunch for my bff where I ordered a perfectly seasoned fried chicken breast on a Belgian sour cream waffle with brown sugar syrup. It was one of those situations where the food comes and there's so much that you're like 'no way am I eating all that' and then it ends up being so freaking good that before you know it you're a half-second away from licking the plate. So that was probably a weekend's worth of calories in and of itself, but I didn't stop there. I went in to work a graveyard shift that night and my partner happened to say the magical words "chow mein" and before I knew it I found myself consuming a bowl of kung pao chicken with a an extra large side of self-loathing. And then yesterday we went to Travis's parent's house for a dinner to celebrate Madi and my father in law who both had birthdays. I was in charge of bringing wine and cake and so, you know, ended up also consuming a lot of wine. And cake. Incidentally, this wine that I posted on Instagram (and which I bought because the name/ladybug logo/sale price made it impossible to resist) is now my new absolute favorite. In fact, I'd even say it's amaZIN (haha) and I highly recommend purchasing a bottle or six immediately. 




Okay, I'm off to watch The Bachelor season finale (obviously!) and do some serious food-detoxing (after I finish my Cadbury eggs. Obviously!) Cheers to televised drama and making it through another dangerous time change in one piece ;-)



Madi's birth story

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I can't believe my baby girl turned 2 this week! It seriously feels like yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital. In light of Madi's birthday, I thought it would be a good time to write down her birth story since back then I was on what ended up being a seriously long blogging break.

Pregnancy with Madison was -I'm assuming- about as easy as pregnancy gets. Don't get me wrong, I did have to deal with the swollen feet, crazy porn-star boobage, the serious hangrys if I didn't eat every couple of hours and a pretty bad period of migraines during the second trimester (my prescription migraine meds are off limits during pregnancy as is Excedrin which is the only other thing that really works for me so I was pretty much screwed in that area.) But just considering the fact that I never had to deal with morning sickness and I was still sleeping comfortably through the night at 9 months (and could even reach around my belly to paint my own toenails) makes me feel like I had it pretty good. Well, as good as you can have it while abstaining from wine for the better part of a year. That is no easy task.




I'd heard a ton of stories about first babies coming late so I was fully prepared to be welcoming Madi sometime in late March, but she had other plans and decided to make her appearance a week ahead of schedule. The evening of March 9th, Travis and I walked our usual 2 mile route (that's pretty much all the exercise I was up to during the human-growing process) and had a late dinner. As I was brushing my teeth around 10 o'clock, the first of the contractions hit. Right up until that point I had wondered how I would know for sure when I was in labor. Trust me when I say you will know. That feeling was unlike anything else I'd ever experienced. I pulled out the timer app on my phone and within an hour the contractions were coming about 5 min apart, even though my water hadn't broken. So of course I did what only a total weirdo anyone  in their right mind would do in the middle of the night prior to heading to the hospital for the most painful ordeal of their life: put on my waterproof eyeliner and mascara (the same stuff that held on through 2 Tough Mudders) and straightened my hair in between contractions. 




When we got to the hospital I wasn't sure I'd be admitted so I left my hospital bag -including the birth plan my doctor had had me fill out- in the car. The OB on the floor leaned toward sending me home as I was only a couple centimeters dilated and the contractions -though intense and close together- weren't entirely regular. Lucky for me, L&D was having a slow night and the grumpy nurse that was on duty when we arrived was replaced thanks to shift change. I was given the option to stay and walk the halls for awhile to see if that would help things along. It did, and I'm glad we decided not to leave because things ended up progressing fairly quickly. 

Before I knew it, the contractions were too strong to continue walking and I was soon doubled over the side of my hospital bed while the husband quickly fell asleep in the visitor's chair. Man, I love that guy to death, but I was shooting daggers at him from my eyeballs at that point. I couldn't stop picturing the various "supportive partner" positions (which seemed to include lots of back rubs) from the birthing class Kaiser required me to take, and that Trav had had to miss for work. In any event, none of the "supportive partner" positions included the partner drifting off to dreamland in the middle of my suffering. I considered kicking his chair and or yelling to wake him up and make him feel my pain, dammit! I settled on throwing a washrag at him which he of course didn't notice but made me feel just a tiny bit better. 

Before the onset of labor I had been leaning toward team "unmedicated birth," but that was back when I still believed all the people who told me that the kidney stones I've had twice were way worse than labor pain. They lied. When the anesthesiologist came you better believe I took the epidural! I feel like, you know the pain is serious when you're down for having a needle jabbed in your spine, because that doesn't feel so great in itself. Anyhoo, once the pain meds kicked in I was basically floating on a cloud and then my hubby wasn't the only one able to get some much needed rest.

Finally, around 11:30 the next morning, I had dilated enough to push. The next few hours were really just an incredibly painful blur. My contractions never became regular, so the epidural was turned off to allow me to "really feel them" (exactly what I was trying to avoid haha) and know when to maximize the pushes. But no matter how hard I bore down, baby girl refused to turn and make her way out. At some point, pitocin was hung to try to strengthen the contractions (and it most certainly did) but she still wasn't budging. **I feel like I should give Travis an honorable mention here because he stayed right by my side, encouraging me, letting me practically break all the bones in his hand with my death grip and bringing me cold washcloths for my forehead.** Then the nurse informed me that some meconium had presented and baby's heart rate was dropping a bit and my heart sank. There was some ugly-crying. EMT school doesn't delve too deeply into childbirth complications, but I distinctly remembered learning the signs of fetal distress. They gathered a special team of people in case resuscitation was needed, and finally, finally after what felt like a years -but was actually about 3 really, really long hours- I gave my last push and out she came at 2:22 pm, all 7lbs 11ounces and 20 inches of her.






I know every mom bonds with her baby in different ways and at different times, but I fell in love with Madi early in my pregnancy, and I can't even begin to explain the depth of love I felt when they placed her on my chest for our first skin-to-skin. It's true what they say that having a kid is like having your heart walking around outside your body. She made everything worth it. 

Child birth did a number on me though, and I came out looking -and feeling- like the loser in a prize fight. I tore pretty badly, lost a lot of blood, and here's a pro-tip I wish someone would have mentioned before everything started: don't "push with your face." I apparently did, and had 2 black eyes with ruptured blood vessels and a face so swollen I could barely open my eyes to show for it (doesn't lend itself to cute postpartum cuddling-with-the-new-baby pics, that's for sure!) 

So that's our birth story, Madi's and mine. Happy Birthday baby girl!


**Linking up with Momfessionals and Sincerely, Paula**

What's with the chicken? (a Women Tell All recap)

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This season's Tell All was just not that exciting, you guys. I mean, it had a few moments which we'll get to, but over all there was just a lot of apologizing and being nice and making up and that is not good TV. 

Okay, so first of all, what I want to know is: why is the "chicken enthusiast" on the panel? Didn't she leave the very first night? And I was going to ask why she would bring her chicken -apparently named Sheila- along for the Tell All ride, but let's be real: no one would have any idea who she was otherwise. 





So we dive right into the entire reason for watching The Bachelor  drama with clips of Olivia snarking, Jubilee sulking and Leah the Liar...well, lying. Leah attempts to defend her decision to throw Lauren under the nearest  semi-truck and then play innocent bystander by saying it was because she felt "overshadowed." No sympathy is forthcoming from either the panel or the audience so she kind of mutters something about how she and Lauren are "good now" so it's fine. 





Next the girls -by which I mean Amber who desperately needs the assistance of a good bra and Jaime (who?)- have a bone to pick with Jubilee. Apparently they take serious issue with some of the comments Jubilee made in the house, such as referring to herself as "full black." Um, she is black, so......whatever, mean girls. I guess I don't get it. Still #TeamJubilee over here. 




Now Lace is in the hot seat. Oh Lace, how we've missed your third person references and brand of all around cray. And hey look, so did the rando guy who got your face tattooed on his beer gut! Thanks to Chris Harrison we can all look forward to the Lace shenanigans that are sure to spice up Bachelor in Paradise this summer. 

Miss Olivia "I wanna talk smart things" has her turn on center stage next (thank the good lord there's no cake or feathers in sight) and attempts this sort of combo of giving herself compliments while trying to make amends for her condescending attitude toward the other girls. (She's just misunderstood, you guys! She's just not good at this Bachelor thing!) Amanda and one of the Mystery Twins clearly aren't buying what she's selling, and actually start laughing.




Olivia -not surprisingly- is in the hot seat for awhile, but the gist is this: a few tears are shed, Olivia confesses she was "severely bullied" as a kid, someone called Izzy (who the hell are you??) doesn't believe her and eventually apologies are given and accepted and everyone can go back to taking their #BachelorNation group selfies now.




And now we've come to Caila, our resident hair-flipper and most recent broken-hearted Bachelor dump-ee. 




I really do feel bad for Caila, but what I notice most about her interview is how many times she says "It's just really hard." I didn't  keep a tally, but she says it enough that even Charlie Sheen could turn it into a drinking game and get seriously plastered. Which is probably what Caila needs to do right about now.

The star of the show finally makes his appearance and is welcomed by Chris Harrison pointing out that Bens in quite a mess with all the love-talk he's been spewing!





And then the girls get to have at 'im! As Leah calls Ben out for tattling on her to Lauren, my husband walks into the living room, sits down and then immediately gets up and leaves. He definitely can't hang with The Bachelor drama, but that's okay, cause it's a wrap!

I have a feeling next week's finale will be the juiciest yet! Until then Bachelor Nation!


































Lately: a few things

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So a couple weeks ago this happened:




You may be looking at the picture thinking "What happened? I don't really see anything." Well that, my friends, that teeny tiny little spider web of a crack is is the result of a grocery store parking lot fender bender. It was probably the most boring car "crash" in the history of car crashes. In fact, it was so minor that neither the other driver nor I was entirely sure if we had actually collided, even after we walked around and looked at both cars. But a $1400 estimate on my bumper and $1000 to replace her slightly dented/scratched rim and I think we're both "sure" now. Talk about a serious buzzkill! Not to mention that I now find myself driving through parking lots at slightly less than the speed of sloth with slightly more paranoia than a Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist...which is fun.

And then Last Monday I was sitting in class enjoying (haha) re-learning the process of factoring polynomials when I happened to look down at my phone and see several texts from the husband. Turns out he had slipped and fallen down the stairs while carrying Madi and he wasn't sure if he was okay and Madi wouldn't stop crying. I threw my books in my bag and raced home to find that the baby was actually fine, but Trav could hardly move. So we were off to Kaiser where we found that our StairMaster had a mild concussion and bruised neck and ribs. I'm so, so thankful his damage wasn't worse and that Madi was uninjured! But man, you know they say bad things come in threes so I'm hoping that's not the case here. 

Okay, so I know I'm waaaay behind with this, but I finally started reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini the other day. Have you read it? I love books that give me a little taste of other cultures, so I felt like it started off interesting, if a little slow. Around the halfway mark I became so aggravated with the main character and his string of horrible decisions that I actually wanted to reach through the pages and punch him in the throat. Or at least stop reading the book! I pushed through though, and now that I'm in the last few chapters I kind of don't want to put it down. Can't wait to see how it ends!




This morning I completed the Blogilates 1000 abs challenge (okay, technically I only completed 968 of the 1000 reps but I was so close!) along with two of the other Blogilates ab workouts. My core is seriously so much stronger now than it was pre-pregnancy when I was mainly focused on running! If only I could lay off the chocolate, I might actually be able to see how much stronger I'm getting. I just can't figure out how to let Cadbury Egg Season -aka Easter- pass by without paying it the homage it deserves. Le Sigh. 

How's life for you, lately? Have you conquered any new challenges? Read any good books? Gotten into any fender benders? (Hopefully not that last one, but if you have we can cry on each other's shoulders haha) Happy Monday!



6 easy (and totally binge-worthy) appetizers

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Since Friday just happens to be the perfect time to share some "favorites" and I just happen to have a serious case of food-on-the-brain today, I'm going to go with it. Let's talk about appetizers! 

I'll be honest, I've had a few failures in the hors d'oueuvers department. If you know me, you know I'm no Gordon Ramsey. Any time I try to get a little too fancy in the kitchen, something invariably gets forgotten, undercooked or outright charred into oblivion. So of course I gravitate toward recipes that are not only delicious, but simple and tough to screw up. The links I'm going to share with you here are my absolute favorite appetizers and not only really, really tasty but easy, too! 

So, here you go: my all-time favorite appetizers from around the internet...enjoy!




I was introduced to these bad boys when my friend Chris brought them to a bridal shower last summer. I won't even tell you how many I ate, because it's actually embarrassing. Ironically, I don't particularly care for either spinach or artichokes, but those little bread bowls were so good that I basically gorged myself and then went home and made my own for a family get together soon after.


Via


These things are so freaking good when they are steaming hot out of the oven with the bacon crisp and hot and the cheese  all melty-gooey. I will readily admit that I have made them for dinner on more than one occasion. (You can totally judge, it's okay.)
Via

3. Baked ham and cheese sliders from Once Upon a Chef
I made this recipe for the first time when I was looking for an app that would be easy to transport across town, could be reheated if necessary and would appeal to a Superbowl beer-drinking crowd. I wasn't crazy excited about making them because I've had plenty of ham and cheese sandwiches over the years and they're not usually anything to write home about. Until now, that is. Turns out that when you layer the ham and cheese on sweet Hawaiian rolls and bake it all in a delectable butter sauce you get something waaaaaay better than mom used to put in your lunchbox. 


Via


These are simple, gluten free and with the main ingredient being high-protein quinoa, have the added bonus of making you feel like you're eating something halfway healthy. The recipe calls for habanero sauce, but I used a milder red chili sauce and they turned out great!


Via



I love dip. I mean, who doesn't love dip, right? This one is cheesy, bacony, spicy perfection and works great with chips, veggies or a baguette. Its easily one of my husband's favorites.



Via



I first made these for a big group birthday party a couple years ago (so much fun!) I should warn you that unless you own a mandolin -which I do not- these take a little extra prep time if you'd rather not burn your hands off slicing into hot potatoes. Its worth it though, as this recipe is serious carby goodness! I highly recommend topping with sour cream or serving some on the side for dipping. 


Via

Are you hungry yet?? My mouth is watering after posting all these pictures. Happy app'ing and have a great weekend!

***Linking up with Sincerely Paula and Momfessionals***

Everything's Irie on The Bachelor....or is it?

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We're down to the final 3 ladies on this week's Bachelor, which takes us to the birthplace of reggae. I'm talking 'bout Jamaica, mon!


Anybody else remember the best Jamaican bobsled team of all time?!

Caila has the first date with Ben this week and they start with a little river rafting. Not like class 5 rapids whitewater rafting or anything,  more of a Huck Fin (minus the racism) gentle poling down the lazy river on a wooden raft type of vibe.

So any who, there they are floating romantically through the jungle and Caila goes total radio silence. Ben makes a few attempts at conversation which mostly go like this: "Are you excited?" "Yeah, I'm excited." "Are you okay?" "Yeah, I'm okay." And then we all enjoy the sound of crickets. It's riveting, I tell you. 




Next the two lovebirds have a romantic dinner on the beach and Ben wants to talk about the day and how different Caila seemed on their date earlier. Caila thinks its funny that Ben noticed she was being "weird" (Let's be real, their date was awkward AF. How could he not notice?) and likes being "called out" for it. She decides its finally time to reveal that she's actually in love with Ben and really just anxious, which buys her a trip to the fantasy suite. 

We get a shot of the two having breakfast in bed the next morning, where Caila appears to be  fresh from a Brazilian blowout with her makeup perfectly applied. Ben wants to know if she always wakes up looking so beautiful. No one wakes up looking that good Ben. No one.  





Now it's time for Lauen's big date, and she informs us that she's been feeling feelings and wants to get them off her chest. But first, Lauren and Ben have a job to do and they head to a sea turtle rescue to give baby sea turtles a bath and set them free in the ocean. Now, I kind of want to poke fun at this date and how serious Ben is about it (praying over the turtles? Really?) But I'll go easy because those tiny little critters are really stinking cute. 





After the turtles are sent on their journey to find love to the ocean for all the right reasons (see what I did there?) Ben and Lauren have a serious talk on the beach. Ben feels Lauren is too good for him. Lauren feel Ben is too good for her. They make out. There are rainbows. (Of course there are rainbows.)

When the fantasy suite date card arrives after dinner Ben gives Lauren his best come-hither bedroom eyes, just in case she was thinking of saying no. 





Alone with the camera crew in their "privacy" of their suite, Lauren finally tells Ben that she loves him and he responds that he's been in love with her for awhile. (Uh oh...with two other ladies still in the picture I smell trouble brewing.)


Jojo's date starts with yet another helicopter ride. (Why does Jojo get all the helicopters? Is she tired of them yet?) 





Following the helicopter tour, they hike up to a gorgeous waterfall and I have to tell you guys, I freaking love Jojo's bikini. I also love waterfalls, so this is basically my favorite date so far. They swim, they make out, they jump off a really high-looking ledge and then Jojo decides it's her turn to woman-up and drop the L bomb. She knows Ben can't say it back, and she's okay with that. Except...he does. He tells Jojo he loves her. Oh shit. Didn't I tell you there was going to be trouble? 

So to recap our recap: Lauren is on cloud 9 because Ben has told her that he loves her, and Jojo is on cloud 9 because Ben has told her that he loves her, and Caila is on cloud 9 because Ben has told her with his eyes that he loves her, and this is obviously not going to end well for 50% of these people. And I kind of want to tell Ben: 


Love-Whore Island, that is.

Ben finally gets a day off from the stress of falling in love with all these gorgeous women and taking them on cool dates and he uses the down time to ponder his strategy for breaking hearts at the next rose ceremony. Meanwhile Caila, convinced they're just "two people who love each other and want to be together" hitches a ride to Ben's hotel to show him how fun and full of surprises she is. Unfortunately Ben is the one full of surprises when he tells her he's in love with two people and she's not one of them. He just can't "get there" with Caila, you know? Ouch. Your eyes lied, Ben!

We're left with Lauren and Jojo at the rose ceremony and Ben tells us he can see a future married to each of them. Is this foreshadowing? Is there a Bachelor/Sister Wives spinoff in the works? We'll have to wait 2 weeks for the dramatic finale. In the meantime, looking forward to some good tell-all drama next week.

Until next time, Bachelor Nation! Likkle muore! 



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