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Monday, February 28, 2011

Leavin' on a jet plane (with no checked bags)

So if you saw my last post you know that I was in London last week for work. I was on a quest to go on the trip with only carry-on luggage just because it is so much easier at the airport and less chance for your luggage to get lost of course.

Here is how I did it (and how you can too!): Make a list of everything you must have that week and nothing more. Don't bring any extras. Question everything you think about bringing.

Roll tops and sweaters and scarves and put those in the bottom of the suitcase making use of plastic bags if you think something might snag.

Add folded suits.

Add boots in plastic bags.

Add purse filled with socks and other small things.

And pjs and workout clothes and other small items like outlet converter, camera cord & charger.

Notebooks and power cord in the top mesh pouch

and laptop in the outside big pocket (that one was a definite squeeze!)

All liquids and tolietries in these 2 bags. This is where you can save big if you really minimize what you bring in the way of makeup and hair stuff etc. Utilize travel sizes of things like a hairbrush if you can. I packed only a couple of pairs of earrings (and wore my watch) so jewelry wouldn't take up space either. You really don't need multiple eyeshadows and eyeliners etc.  :)

Those 2 go into a work bag with medicines, books, camera, wallet, passport, empty water bottle, snacks, etc. oh and I threw in an umbrella since it was London. This work bag came from Target and it is FANTASTIC! I use it every day and on work trips. My first one just started looking worn out (mostly in the straps) after 3 1/2 yrs and I bought another one.

In my carry on suitcase I packed: 5 tops/sweaters plus 1 extra top, 2 suit pants and jackets, 1 pair of boots, 1 purse, socks and undergarments for each day, pjs, yoga pants and shirt for working out, scarf, 2 notebooks, power cord and converter, and laptop.

I wore my jeans, tennis shoes & socks, sweater, and winter coat.

All of the stuff in a suitcase and workbag was for my trip when I left Saturday night and returned Friday afternoon. There would have even been room for a few more clothes had the trip been a couple days longer. I wore everything except for the extra sweater that I packed.

Packing just 1 color scheme where all my clothes went with black was key so that I only needed black boots and a black purse and I used . And 1 coat which I wore on the plane was a big space saver too. I didn't bring any other coats or sweatshirts.

Woohoo for no checking bags! I was extremely glad I did not have to wait for luggage when my flight got in Friday night 3 1/2 hours late and then I waited an hour in the customs line  :( ... was soooo thankful to just go home!!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Greetings from across the pond

Hello everyone from London! I am in London this week for work and arrived in the very early hours Sunday morning. Some colleagues and I are staying near St. Pauls and the office is right near there too.

As soon as I told anyone that I was traveling to London for work I got so many comments of "oh how fun!" "I'm so jealous" and "Lucky!".  I almost have to laugh a little because if you are someone who has ever travelled for work you know that it is far from glamorous. Since I like to keep it real for you on this blog, here are some of the things people may not think about when they hear "travelling for work".

1. The key word in travelling for work is the word work. You are there to do your job unlike travelling for pleasure. Very often you work even longer hours than you would normally because you are there only for a limited time for a particular purpose. After you work these long hours there are often planning dinners or things like that so there's not much time for anything else.

2. The 3 main attractions you get to spend time at are the airport, the hotel, and the office. You may have a few minutes here or there to "sightsee" as you walk to the office or take a cab with everyone to dinner but that isn't exactly what people would consider sightseeing or really taking in a city. A lot of work trips are 5 days or less.

3. It is very difficult to talk to your family. Especially if timezones are involved. And like this time I have no phone that will work in the UK so no calling the hubby.

4. Lack of those great home comforts such as your kitchen and your own bed. I like to eat healthy... very difficult to do when eating out every meal. I also like to work out after work and then do crafts or watch tv after dinner. Working out is extremely hard to fit into the schedule and you are often so tired after the day and dinner all you have time/energy for is going to sleep.... there is jetlag to consider of course.

Missing homemade food like this

Now with that being said, there are some positive things. The flyer miles are great so you can save to go on a fun personal trip. If you can work it out to be somewhere long enough that you are there over a weekend too or for a longer period of time then you CAN do some fun sightseeing things.

I think it may also be different if you don't care about the home comfort stuff I talked about or if you are single or have "no strings attached" as NSYNC would put it hehe.

Here are a few pictures I snapped Sunday afternoon. It was very cold and gloomy but hey this is London in the winter so what would you expect right. At least it wasn't raining!

Our hotel - the most modern hotel I have ever been in. You have to even put your key card in a slot in your room to be able to operate the lights.

This is the view from my room. I mean literally. I stood at my window and snapped a picture which is why it's not the best quality :)

A few more of St. Paul... it is such an amazing church and piece of architecture!

This guy coated himself to look like a statue and would move when you put coins in his cup. He was doing quite well actually and attracting a lot of people. Love the sunglasses.

So there ya have it! I did get to tour and sightsee around London when I was here 3 years ago for a work trip that lasted 2 1/2 weeks - unusual to have a longer trip but I had a great time seeing most of what I wanted to then!

Hope everyone is having a good week so far and I am looking forward to being back in Charlotte on Friday  :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tuscan Turkey Sausage and Bean Soup

I have another crock pot recipe to tell you about! Surprise surprise right? I do love me some crock pot meals and this one I dare say is definitely one of my favorites!

I found the recipe here at Recipe Girl where I have found many other wonderful recipes. 

Crock Pot Turkey Sausage & Bean Soup
(slightly adapted from recipe girl)
Serves 6 with 1 1/2 cup servings


12 oz turkey kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/4 in rounds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
15.5 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
15.5 oz can northern beans, rinsed and drained
14.5 oz can italian seasoned diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 tsp dried basil
shredded cheese for topping (optional)


Combine all ingredients in crock pot (except cheese) and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Top with cheese if desired. I actually served this on top of some brown rice  which was wonderful so in that case we had more than 6 servings.

If you use the serving size above of 1 1/2 cups, soup is 241 calories acccording to recipe girl. Woohoo for yummy and healthy too! Doesn't get much simplier than this either! I chopped up the onion, celery stalks, and carrots the night before and put them in tupperware filled with water in the fridge so I didn't have to chop in the morning. I stored the chopped sausage in a ziploc in the fridge overnight. It made the assembly pretty quick in the a.m. before work.

The leftovers were wonderful too and I think it could freeze nicely also! Let me know if you try this and if you have any awesome crock pot recipes BRING 'EM ON!

A couple other crock pot recipes I have shared:

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

And the winner is...

The winner of the 100 followers giveaway earrings is....

My Photo

who said... "Congrats! I have been following!"
YAY Dana! I am so excited to send you your gift! Please email me here: laforcebewithyoublog(at)gmail(dot)com to claim your prize :)

Thank you to everyone who entered and to all of my followers! Yall rock!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monogrammed Pillow {My first sewing adventure}


I sewed something all by myself... meaning without my mom's help! Woohoo! Before you get too excited, I made a pillow. If you sew, you are going to laugh (if you aren't already) because it is so simple but this was a big deal for me as I am just learning how to sew and I have never sew something on my own. You have to start somewhere right? So I am excited!

One of my sorority little sisters, Jessica, is getting married and I was invited to her shower which happened to be themed a Monogram Shower! I knew as part of her gift I wanted to make her a throw pillow with their married couple monogram on it. So off I went to get some thin muslin, thick muslin, and pillow stuffing. I planned to make the pillow insert too instead of buying a pillow form... thrifty I know!

I used the thick muslin for the outside pillow and thin for the insert. After cutting 2  13x13 squares (for my 12x12 pillow finished pillow) of each type of muslin, I used my Silhouette machine to create a stencil of their monogram. Then I freezer paper stencilled it onto one of the thick muslin squares and used dark brown paint. Here is how I freezer paper stencil.

just began painting
painting complete!
Meet Bertha, my Bernina! (Yes I like to name things... like our cars, the portable heater, etc.) Next I pinned the "right sides" together. I did this same thing for the pillow insert... basically this whole process was like making 2 pillow covers. Since I'm a newbie, I pin A LOT.


Next I sewed around with a straight stitch and left an opening on one side as you can see above where there are no pins. I did a 1/2 in seam.

Then I cut the corners of the seam allowance and I turned the pillows inside out (so the right side would be on the outside). For the inside pillow I needed to use the opening to stuff it and then hand stitch it closed. For the outside cover I needed to use that opening to stuff the inside pillow in and then I hand stitched that closed as well. I have to admit that the hand stitching was by far my least favorite part. I think next time I will do pillows with overlapping back fabric so there is no hand stitching (and also you can swap out pillow covers easily that way).

All in all I think it turned out really nice! And I really enjoyed sewing on my machine. I rethreaded it and everything and didn't mess anything up :) Just in case yall are wondering... for a married couple monogram it goes: wife's first initial, big married last name initial, husband's first initial.

I see many years of wonderful sewing for Bertha and I!

Me and the Bride To Be at the shower:

Linking up to these parties:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bride Heat Transfer Shirt

My sister Laura is getting married in April so I made her a bride shirt using my handy dandy silhouette machine for Christmas. I know I know Christmas seems like ages ago but I never shared it and I think it turned out really cute!

Here is what I gave the Bride to be:

I bought a group of silhouette images that had a few bride-ish things like the diamond (there was also a dress outline in the same group of images) and then I added ovals in the software to make the diamond into a ring! I used the Kristen ITC font which I love!

My SIL Megan bought me a shirt that said Soon to be Mrs. Emily LaForce when we got engaged and I thought that was so sweet. Hopefully Laura will enjoy this shirt as much as I enjoyed mine.

Oh, and I made her fiance a red shirt that say Groom in black in a blockish font but I didn't take a picture of it, whoops. I'm sure you can imagine it  ;)  Woohoo Silhouette heat transfer! If you want to see my first try at Silhouette heat transfer on a onesie go here.

Linking up to these parties:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

100 Followers Giveaway!

I have reached 100 FOLLOWERS! Holy Cow!!

That means it is time for my very first.....


I am so happy to have reached this blog milestone! Wow, just wow! I love blog world and all the fun things it has opened my eyes to. My blog is such a creative outlet and I feel very blessed that I have things to share (that people actually like to read haha). I heart all of my followers and future followers!

I know you are thinking "get on with it! tell us what the giveaway is!"

The winner of the giveaway will receive this homemade pair of double chain drop earrings made by me of course :)  They have blue crystals and pearls. Aren't they pretty? Great to dress up for work or going out or add a bit of pop to casual outfits!

To Enter:
1. You must first be a follower of LaForce Be With You.  Do that by clicking the Follow button on the right sidebar and you can sign up with your google, yahoo, blogger, etc. account to follow publicly.
2. Then just leave a comment below - one entry per person please :)

The winner will be randomly chosen on Feb 16th (no entries after 10pm EST on the 16th please)
My immediate family members are not eligible to win - sorry yall!

Well that is it. Simple right?! Go enter and spread the word around to win some fabulous earrings :) WOOHOO!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

I received the "Stylish Blogger Award" from Kait at Mrs. DIY! YAY!

Kait lives in the Charlotte area too, is a newlywed, and has some fun crafting and decorating posts! Go check out her blog!

To accept this award you have to follow these 4 rules:
1. Thank and link back to the blogger who awarded you with the award
2. Share 7 Things about yourself
3. Award 8 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact the bloggers and inform them of the award

Okay so on to the 7 things:

1. I heart cheese big time. Grilled Cheese, Cheese and Crackers, Cheese Enchiladas, Cheesecake. Yum! This is making me hungry. I could eat it all the time (if that wouldn't be unhealthy that is). I love all different kinds. It is in many dishes that I make.

Zucchini Boats

2. Clemson is one of my favorite places ever. It is really hard to put into words the feeling that I get when I am there but for those of you that know, you just know. It is where we got engaged too :)

3. I don't have a gallbladder.  Mine had to be taken out when I was in college because it had gallstones and one of them got stuck in a duct. It was awful. Really weird I know... exactly what the Dr's said for someone young and healthy. Who knows.... but anyway, because of it I don't eat fried food or greasy food or things with a lot of fat. It is not a huge deal since I like to eat healthy anyway but no chick-fil-a sandwiches and waffle fries is a bummer from time to time.

4. Hubby and I have a list of cities/places we really want to visit. We have already done a few and really enjoy travelling to new places together. This was Boston last fall.

5. I hate coffee. I don't even like fancy coffee drinks or coffee ice cream. I guess this is a good thing since coffee and caffeine aren't good for the non-gallbladder either.

6. Blood and guts and such make me squeamish. I like to watch Grey's Anatomy but I have to look away during the operation/cutting people open shots. If there is something more natural like a skinned knee or a baby being born then that's not an issue but when they are opening people up and looking at the heart and such then that is a whole 'nother thing.

7. I am learning to sew. I recently got a sewing machine and I am definitely a beginner but I have hopes of becoming great at sewing. I am completely kicking myself for not wanting to learn all those years in high school when my mom offered to teach me. At the time I was thinking... boring.... but now I'm like geez what was I thinking!

Now I will pass on the award to these awesome ladies:

1. Shannon at Enjoy Life and Love
2. Taylor at Saved by Grace... Maintained By Coffee
3. MaryEllen at The Adventures of a Big Girl
4. Casey at Classic with a Pop
5. Megan at Pink to Green
6. Daphne at Moo Moo's & Tutus
7. Three Sisterz
8. Lily at Lily's Health Pad

Go look at their wonderful blogs! You won't be disappointed!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Crock Pot Potato Soup

We have been doing really well trying new recipes this year (one of my 2011 personal goals). We try out a new one at least every other week. Recipes in the crock pot are especially attractive during these chilly months. I always wanted to make potato soup so after a little googling, I happened upon this one from the Tasty Kitchen. I liked that it didn't have heavy cream in it and seemed pretty healthy.

Crock Pot Potato Soup Recipe (slightly adapted)
Makes about 10 servings

8 cups Diced Potatoes (peeled)
1/2 - 3/4 cups Diced Carrots
1/2 - 3/4 cups Diced Celery
3  14 1/2 oz cans low sodium Chicken Broth
10 oz can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 clove of Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon of Flour
8 oz package of reduced fat Cream Cheese
Green Onions, chopped for topping (optional)

In a large slow cooker/crock pot, combine all above ingredients, minus the flour and cream cheese. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. About an hour (or a little less if you are running behind) before you serve the soup, stir in the cream cheese until blended. Then, scoop out about a cup or two of the soup into a separate bowl. Add the flour, whisking to avoid any lumps. Then as you are stirring the soup, add flour/soup mixture back into the slow cooker. Replace lid and allow the soup to cook until you’re ready to serve it. The flour will thicken it up a little.

The original recipe calls for 5 tablespoons of flour which seemed fine the first night we had the soup but then when we had leftovers it was mashed potatoes and no longer soup. That wasn't a big deal as we love mashed potatoes too but next time I am going to just do 1 Tbs as noted above or leave it out completely. The original also calls for bacon so if you aren't worried about it being healthy you could add that too.

When you serve it you can add some toppings like green onions, grated cheese, and sour cream if desired. Most of the times we had the soup with just green onions on top and it was perfect.

Here is it cooking away in my trusty ole crock pot

After adding the cream cheese and flour

This was a perfect warm your soul type of meal and we will definitely be making it again! We first served it when my friend Brooke was over for our weekly dinner together (we swap houses each week) and everyone enjoyed it. I'm sure that doesn't surprise you as I wouldn't share a recipe that I didn't recommend haha!

YUM! Thank you Tasty Kitchen!

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Come join Soup-a-Palooza with TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by Bush’s Beans, Hip Hostess, Pillsbury and Westminster Crackers

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Updated Burlap Wreath

Once the Cranberry Christmas wreath came down, I decided to update my burlap rosette wreath so I could put it back on the door. After a trip to Michaels and $1.25 (using a coupon) spent, I changed out the leaf pinecone cluster for this spring branch looking cluster. I figured it would work for Valentines day with pink in it and also work for the springtime! Too bad spring isn't here yet... winter is not my favorite.

Here it is updated: (excuse the lighting, it was taken at night with the flash)

Before in the fall:

And it only took a few minutes to tie on the new branch! I did add a bit of hot glue to where some of the rosettes weren't attached to the wreath as securely as they used to be.

To see how to make one of these wreaths yourself, go here for when my mom made one over the summer.

Spring please HURRY UP!

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