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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Snow of 2013

We had a snow day in Charlotte on Saturday February 16th. Usually it always snows here for a day or two each year just enough for this FL raised warm weather loving girl but we actually did not have any snow last year. Crazy I know.. there was some some nearby in the mountains but somehow we were missed. So I was ready to see everything pretty and covered in white so long as it didn't ruin any plans :)

It started snowing about 4pm and didn't stop until sometime that night. Within 30 minutes we had this.


Everything just looks so pretty all coated in white fluff.

Our plans to get Mellow Mushroom for dinner were scrapped when I called and they said they were closing due to the weather. Can you tell we don't get snow very often here? So we grabbed pizza from a local place nearby that was not afraid of a little snow.

When it stopped snowing I think we had about 3-4 inches.

I took a few pictures the next morning before it all started to melt.


Everything was basically melted and back to normal by Monday. I may be jinxing myself by titling this post "snow of 2013" but since it is almost the end of February it's fairly safe to assume we won't get any more snow until next year.

Snow days aren't as exciting as they were in college when they would cancel classes. With the ability to work remotely, there is no such this as a snow day off of work. We had such great times in Clemson when it snowed and I have some wonderful memories of playing in the snow and using dining hall trays to sled down hills!

January or February 2004 (I think) - this was before I was better about cataloguing what months pictures were from but perhaps Shannon remembers.

January 2005 - It snowed on my birthday! It was a wonderful present :)

February 2007 - Roommates

I do remember waking Brooke up very early to tell her it was snowing. Not sure she was quite as excited as I was... apparently if you grow up in Illinois, snow isn't as thrilling.

Yes those first two pictures are photos of photos I took with my phone. Sorry! Everything pre Summer 2005 is not on CDs and only on negatives... gonna have to fix that sometime. I'm so glad for digital photography now!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Western Caribbean Cruise: Tampa and Sea Day

Since it's well into February perhaps it's time to start posting about our vacation from end of Dec./beginning of Jan. haha :)

If you have been a follower for awhile you know we had a great time cruising around the Southern Caribbean with Eric's brother and his wife in February 2012. Well, it was recently time for another cruise! Eric and I took a 7 day cruise over New Year's with my parents around the Western Caribbean. None of us had been to any of the islands on the Carnival Legend's itinerary and it left out of Tampa (an easy drive from my parent's home) so it was the perfect choice for us.

I'll be blogging about our vacation in a series of posts
Here's where we sailed:

Day 1: Depart Tampa
Day 2: Fun Day at Sea
Day 3 (New Year's Day): Cozumel
Day 4: Belize City
Day 5: Roatan, Mahogany Bay, Honduras
Day 6: Grand Cayman
Day 7: Fun Day at Sea

My parents had not been on a cruise in a very long time and were a little hesitant about going on Carnival since it is one of the more budget lines but decided to give it a go especially after our accounts of the molten chocolate lava cake.

Cruising is an affordable way to see a variety of islands/places in a short amount of time and eat delicious food from wonderful chefs. The rooms (unless you pay out the wazoo) and pools aren't like staying at a five star hotel, but that's not why we go on a cruise.

On December 30th, we arrived at Port of Tampa a little after noon. We handed over our check bags and carried a few things with us, got all checked in with ID cards etc. and headed up to have lunch in the Unicorn Cafe (buffet/station style dining). This is where we had breakfast and lunch most days.

We were able to go drop our stuff off at our rooms and explore the ship some before the muster drill.

It was actually a chilly day (for FL) with only a high of about 58 and windy so we were ready for warmer weather! Don't use Eric's short sleeved shirt as any indication of the temp. We set sail at about 4pm. On our last cruise we didn't set sail until after 8pm and it was quite dark so it was nice to enjoy the sunny views as we left port and headed out toward the Gulf.

You can see the cruise ship that sailed off right before us going under the bridge.

We did the Your Time Dining so that we would not be locked into either 6 or 8:30 every night. We had some issues with the My Time Dining on Royal Caribbean but had no problem on Carnival. You don't set your time ahead of time at all... you just show up and wait in line (no more than 15 min) and then are seated usually in the same section every night if they are able.

Other than the poor lighting for photography, the dining in Truffles was wonderful.

I had fish, veggies and some rich and creamy mac and cheese. Eric had pesto chicken and veggies over pasta.

And molten chocolate lava cake of course! Mmm... wish I had some right now.

Back in the room later we found our towel animals... a seal for my parents!

And some sort of cute unidentifiable animal for us. If anyone can figure it out let me know!

The next day was an at sea day on our way to Mexico. It was also New Year's Eve. We spent time relaxing in the sun and reading and playing cards and Citadels.. the ship had a great game room called the Trump Card Room.

This was the area to lounge if you were without children... adults only area.

It was a "formal night" so we got all dressed up for the night.

Here are some food pics from dinner... we always tried to get different things since there were about 5-6 new specials each night and try each others. They also had about 5 main dishes that were always on the menu too... so tons to choose from!

New Year's Eve was also the night of the Chick Fil A Bowl Clemson vs. LSU game so we headed to the sports bar to watch. There were actually several other Clemson fans there.

During halftime we grabbed a few more photos near one of the staircases.

Me with Dado... not to be confused with Dabo who was leading our Tigers to a victory. It was definitely a nail biting heart attack inducing game and I hated not being able to text with my Clemson friends during the game BUT we were so so ecstatic with a Clemson victory! 

It made for a wonderful NYE.

Well that and this adorable elephant :)

More cruise fun to come!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hey Girl, Happy Valentine's Day

I'm sure you have seen the Ryan Gosling Hey Girl memes everywhere. After I saw Sherry from YHL made some of her hubby, I decided that would be great fun for Valentine's Day!

Here are two Hey Girl memes I made of Eric. Sorry ladies, he's alllllll mine :)

These definitely fit us perfectly! Of course how can they not... I wrote them!

My favorite Ryan Gosling one that also fits hubby and I to a T is:

In case you can't get enough here are a few more that apply to us :)


I got it on etsy for Eric's birthday last month. It's kinda an inside joke (by kinda inside I mean some of our close friends also get it) but zombies have become quite popular with the Walking Dead show and whatnot too. If zombies really did show up, I don't think I can share Eric's sentiment... but at least I know he won't be intimidated so perhaps we will survive.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Stuffed Peppers

It occurred to me that I haven't done a recipe post in awhile and we have been making some scrumptious meals that I cannot wait to share... one of those is Stuffed Peppers! You shouldn't be surprised to hear this is a Skinny Taste recipe. I love how she gives all the calorie info and other nutritional stats.

Santa Fe Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers
From: Skinny Taste, serves 6, 160 calories

for Filling
1 package (1.3 lbs) 99% lean ground turkey
3/4 cup canned beans, drained and rinsed (original recipe used black, we used northern)
3/4 cup frozen corn
1 chopped jalapeno
1 large diced tomato
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chopped onion
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp cumin - we added twice that (love cumin!)
salt to taste

for Peppers
3 large red bell peppers
1/3 cup red. sodium fat free chicken broth
9 Tbsp (slightly more than 1/2 cup) shredded red. fat monterrey jack cheese
1 Tbsp chopped scallions for garnish

In large skillet brown the turkey and season with salt. When browned, add beans, jalapeno, tomato, garlic, onion, cumin and cilantro (everything on the filling list except the corn). Mix well and simmer on low covered for 20 minutes. Remove lid, add corn and simmer 5 more minutes or until liquid reduces.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut red peppers in half lengthwise and remove stems and seeds. Make sure you get large peppers... if they don't have large ones buy a couple extra or you will have lots of leftover filling. Place peppers cut side up in oven-proof dish (we used a glass pyrex). Fill each pepper with 1/2 cup filling. Pour 1/3 cup of chicken broth on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover tight with foil. Bake 45-50 minutes. Remove foil, top each pepper with cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes uncovered. Top with scallions. Serve with red. fat sour cream if desired.

The red peppers we bought were probably not even large enough because we had leftover filling so we just ate some of the filling as extra with our meal (not pictured above) but next time I would just grab another pepper to fill up.

The peppers were delicious and tasted great with some brown rice and slices of avocado :)  Enjoy!

Linking up at these fun parties

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Day I met Young House Love

I had been looking forward to meeting Sherry and John of Young House Love ever since they added a Charlotte date of 2/5 to their book tour and they definitely did not disappoint. They are just as cute and fun in person as they seem on their blog! They are goofy and silly with each other too just like Eric and I are :)  I think they would be perfect couple friends if only they lived in Charlotte, sigh. I know it was only on a Tuesday but it's safe to say that was the highlight of my week!

The event was at UNCC Barnes and Noble. Here is the giant display of books. I already had mine thanks to a Christmas gift from my mom (she had even bubble wrapped it inside the box so it would be in perfect condition haha) but I did pick up another book to get signed for a coworker.

They actually held the event upstairs from the bookstore in a big room in the Student Union with those movable walls. Because seriously how many people can really fit into a college campus bookstore.

The event was at 6pm and I was glad I got there 45 minutes early. I scored Katie, Danielle and I seats in the 4th row. I was so excited and totally jabbering on like a giddy school girl as we passed time waiting... I'm sure they were ready for YHL to come out just so I would be quiet.

About 5 after the room had really filled up and there were about 250 or so there. A guy from the bookstore gave an introduction and Sherry was popping her head around the door they were about to enter so I don't think too many were really listening to the intro. At the end of the intro he slipped up and said "here's Shaun... uh Sherry and John". I'm sure he's never been in a room with that many DIY loving ladies. It's kinda cool that their combined name is actually another name unlike Emric for Emily and Eric.

Sherry and John talked about the 5 main things that were different about writing the book compared to blogging. It was very interesting. I'm not going to recap the 5 things but here are 5 awesome things I learned.

1. They did all the projects and stagings in the book in a 3 week time span because that was the amount of time they had the book photographers. Crazy! I was kind of thing some things might be like on cooking shows where you do a few steps and then pull an already completed end product out of the oven. But nope, they did them all start to finish in 3 weeks.

2. Emerald may be the Pantone color of the year but Sherry's decorating color of the year is Red. Not that old stuffy formal living room red but a modern and fun red which she has already started to incorporate into Clara's room. I have to admit I previously thought of red the same way Sherry did and have never been a red fan for those reasons but now I am warming up to the idea of red more.

3. John likes to plan things out with spreadsheets. Wow me too... maybe that isn't so dorky after all! (I guess it did made for a wonderful Italy trip in 2011) John had a big excel to plan out how many pictures and pages each of their projects would need in the book and which things would just be one photo or quick tips, etc. to keep everything balanced.

4. The book offered the couple a lot of DIY freedom. They could do a project that didn't fit into their current home or fit with their color scheme which they don't do with the blog usually. I have often seen a cool idea but it wouldn't go with our style/colors/space so I wouldn't pursue the project. It would be fun to have that freedom especially with paint.

5. Writing a book = keeping secrets. I never really thought about how hard it would be to not talk about something you were spending all of your time doing. I am a talkative person so this would be hard for me like Sherry said it was for her. They day the book came out she was glad to finally be able to talk about what was in it.

Then they did a Q&A. I got to ask the 2nd question... Do you know what your 2nd book will be about... do you think it will be similar to this book or completely different? They said they hadn't started talking about it too much yet as they wanted a long break but that their publisher said you never want your 2nd book to be too much like your 1st. You want them each to stand alone. It will be really interesting to see what they end up writing about next!

After Q&A it was time for the book signing. Big thanks to Katie for playing paparazzi.. err.. photographer. They went row by row so we were the 4th row to go. Danielle went first.

Then it was my turn! They were friendly and really easy to talk to. I had my book signed and a book signed for my coworker.


Of course I had to get a picture with my favorite bloggers and DIYers!

They did have a guest book for everyone to sign. I got to sign and write my blog in there. In my book they wrote "Thanks for the love! xoxo, Sherry and John".

I can now think of a million more things I would have asked them or talked to them about but maybe sometime they will be visiting Charlotte and we will meet again! If you don't already have their book you should pick one up, I highly recommend it! Thank you thank you Sherry and John for coming to the Queen City!

Monday, February 4, 2013

LaForce Likes #30

These Stacy's gingerbread pita chips are the bomb. They were an impulse buy at Target over a month ago you know what I'm talkin about... hard to get outta there without multiple "oh I do need this" buys. I later sent Eric back to stock up on about 5 bags. They are delicious and a perfect after dinner snack/dessert. And they are baked! A very important characteristic for chips I eat.

Sadly the gingerbread is only limited edition (although I did still see them at BiLo yesterday) but I also discovered Cinnamon Sugar which are even better in my opinion! So these have become my go to ones. These are not limited edition but they don't carry them everywhere. For instance I saw them at our Walmart but not at a different Walmart.

The original pita chips are yummy as well. No I am not compensated in any way by Stacy's. I just love these pita chips!
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