The Valley

Hi! It has been a minute, hasn’t it?

Happy New Year…. four months in. Boy, am I a little late to the party with sharing what all has been happening. I guess you could say I was down in the valley, trying to figure some things out.

And I did.

There is a lot of good for me to share, and a whole lot of loss. But just know, I am okay and life is okay.

Let’s get the big moments out of the way first. My dad turned 75! Yes, he made it to 75. Heart attack & cancer survivor and now officially in his mid-seventies. I could not be more thrilled.

AND my mom turned 70! Both had monumental birthdays! (For whatever reason, I can’t seem to find her picture with her sash and tiara.) Regardless, all is well and both are healthy. That’s all I could ask for.

Something pretty sad happened.

My fat-head boy died. Yes, on Feb. 13th around 4:30 pm, right after begging for food, he followed Tim into the utility room to be fed and collapses from a heart attack. I tried everything I could to bring him back (prayer, cpr, bargaining with God,) However, nothing worked.

I’m still hurting from this loss and honestly, if I allow it, this loss will consume my thoughts.

Dorian turned one! That was a bright spot, just four days later. He is a healthy baby boy and is maturing more and more each day.

And since we are talking birthdays, I made it to number 48. Yep. Officially in my late 40s.

My birthday was fairly low-key. My husband and niece, Micah, took the time to throw me a family party at the farm. They gave me a mountain of donuts and it was divine!

Valentine’s Day was pretty special. Tim arrange a picnic out at the cabin, and followed that up with a romantic dinner of KFC (ha!) and a puzzle. We had a great time.

**Notice the lawn chairs. We were patiently waiting for our new living room suit to be delivered.

Speaking of new things – I got a new car!

I am the proud owner of a Toyota C-HR. I love it!

As far as the kids go – Karen-Ann took a tour of South Georgia Technical College and has decided to enter their cosmetology program.

She was accepted and will start her program this Summer!

Alex is doing well! She transferred to Kennesaw State University from Georgia Southwestern University and is studying Computer Gaming (at the moment.)

At the end of the day, we are all doing well. Just going to work and living life. I have a lot to share over the coming months, but for right now, just celebrating the highlights will have to do. Stay tuned!

Salutations from 2021

Good afternoon, friends! It has been a while since I last wrote. Early November to be exact.

To say I have been busy would be an understatement. My husband and I took a week off and headed to New Orleans, then we stumbled through a few weeks at work, prepping for the holidays, and preparing to send the middle kid off to college, to my taking two weeks off to host family for Christmas. And let me not forget to mention, I’m working on a new project!

Let’s play catch up, shall we?

As far as reading goes, I’ve been a busy girl! I recently finished Washington’s Lady by Nancy Moser and Opium & Absinthe by Lydia Kang. I’m currently reading: Sold On Monday by Kristina McMorris. I promise to work on some book reviews in the coming weeks and post accordingly. I HIGHLY recommend each one of these fantastic novels. I don’t want to give too much away, as it will spoil what I will share later.

One of my New Year resolutions was to try to read the Bible cover-to-cover until I actually finish it. However, like many other times, trudging through the Old Testament is enough to make you cringe, so I have decided to take a different approach. I am reading as much as I can from the Old Testament, then stopping and reading as much of the New Testament – per day. Needless to say, I don’t get very far, but I am going through it slowly and making notes and committing those old stories back into my memory. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What else has been happening?

We did actually have a Christmas Open House at the Americus Visitor Center. Small crowds, but it was well-received. We took all precautions in order to stay safe, and yes, I made all of us get festive.

I also tried to make sure we were festive when the SAM Shortline Excursion Train came by! The theme I had in the center was “The Grinch.” I figured with such a crap-tastic year, why not?

The next big thing we did was take off for New Orleans. I actually got a Christmas bonus (and it was a nice one,) so we decided to use that money and actually go somewhere – just the two of us. Since Tim had never been to New Orleans (as an adult,) I thought it was about time. We got up and left for The Big Easy around 8 am. Here I am being silly in front of the Georgia/Florida sign!

We stopped off at one of my favorite places to lunch – McGuire’s Pub in Pensacola. If you have been following me since the former blog, you remember this place!

My first taste of carbs since Memorial day!!!! We split the Fish n Chips and Beer & Blue Burger.

We made our way to the historic The Roosevelt, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel right on the corner of the CBD and French Quarter. We freshened up and headed down to the hotel’s bar – the famous, Sazerac!

Named after what many consider to be the world’s first mixed drink, The Sazerac carries as much history as its potable namesake. Just gazing at the famous Paul Ninas murals flanking the African walnut bar takes you back to the grandeur of old New Orleans – a time when Huey P. Long would stroll in, order a Ramos Gin Fizz, and spend the next couple of hours talking to his constituents.

Restored to reflect the spirit of the original establishment, elegant bar stools and plush banquettes invite locals and visitors alike to enjoy hand-crafted cocktails and free-flowing conversations. We were feeling all types of hip at this New Orleans institution recently named the #1 Hotel Bar in the U.S. by thousands of voters in the 2019 and 2020 USA Today 10Best poll – also name CNN Travel’s #1 Hotel Bar in the Americas.

After our cocktails, we headed down Bourbon Street and made our way to Antoine’s on Saint Louis Street. We had a 7 pm reservation, and this was supposed to be the highlight of the trip! (And it was!!!)

Antoine’s was established in 1840 and is the oldest family-owned restaurant in the United States. It is also home to the Oysters Rockefeller!

We started off with a little appetizer – the Creole Andouille Au Gratin, which is seared local Manda Andouille sausage, Antoine’s creole sauce, broiled 3-cheese topping.

I opted for the Chicken Rochambeau, which is herb-roasted chicken breast with drumette, shaved smoked ham nest, savory onion rice, twin sauces of sweet Rochambeau and tangy bearnaise, pineapple confit. Tim ordered the Pompano Pontchartrain, which is grilled delicate pompano filet, butter poached jumbo lump crabmeat, white wine sauce, onion rice, and seasonal vegetables.

After dinner we indulged in one of my bucket-list dessert items: The Baked Alaska.

If you aren’t sure what that is – it is the house specialty buttery pound cake shell, vanilla ice cream core, delicate meringue crust, and hot chocolate fudge sauce. It says it serves two, more like eight!

We left Antoine’s and headed to the Hotel Monteleone and visited the famous Carousel Bar! The famous Carousel Bar & Lounge in Hotel Monteleone is a long-time favorite New Orleans hotspot. The classic New Orleans hotel bar is the city’s only revolving bar. For decades, it has lured guests in to take a spin on the 25-seat, bright, circus-clad Merry-Go-Round. Recently, Vogue Living named the bar one of the Top 20 Bars in the World, due in equal parts to the whimsical revolving carousel and comprehensive list of cocktails.

The next day we got up and enjoyed a nice stroll down Bourbon over to The Court of the Two Sisters.

Since at least 1726, the property where the Court of Two Sisters restaurant is now located has been a significant cultural presence in New Orleans. During that year, Sieur Etienne de Perier, the second French royal governor of colonial Louisiana, became the original resident of 613 Rue Royale. Originally known as “Governor’s Row”, the 600 block of Royal Street was home to five governors, two State Supreme Court Justices and one future Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (Edward Douglas White). Zachary Taylor, who later became the twelfth president of the U.S., also resided for a time at 621 Royal. It has also been rumored that the outrageous Marquis de Vaudreil, another early French governor and the one responsible for transforming New Orleans from a marshland village into a petit Paris, was once a resident of 613 Royal. He was so aristocratic and theatrical that he was known as the “Grand Marquis.” The second floor dining room at the Court of Two Sisters is now called the Grand Marquis Room in his honor.

The property changed hands twice before 1886 when Emile Angaud purchased the building and the street level store at 613 Royal. This is when Bertha, who was married to Emile’s son Baldomero Angaud, and Emma Camors set up their “rabais” or notions shop they called “The Shop of the Two Sisters.” The two sisters, born in 1858 and 1860 respectively, belonged to a proud and aristocratic Creole family. It was for these sisters that “The Court” was named. Their shop outfitted many of the city’s finest women with Mardi Gras costumes, formal gowns of the “Gay Nineties”, lace and perfumes imported from Paris. It’s said that occasionally the sisters would serve tea and cakes to their favorite customers in the large courtyard beginning the tradition continued today.

In 1963, the late Mr. Joe Fein, Jr., an established local restaurateur, acquired the restaurant and immediately began steps to preserve the building’s historical integrity. Mr. Fein’s sons, Joe III and the late Jerry Fein, continued with their father’s dedication to The Court of Two Sisters and now their children, the third generation, are directing the day-to-day operations and maintaining the legacy of the property’s history and reputation. With the Fein family’s expertise, The Court of Two Sisters has become known worldwide for its live Jazz Brunch, romantic Creole dinners, friendly service and beautiful, open-air courtyard. In 2013, the Fein Family celebrated 50 years at The Court of Two Sisters and according to their website, are looking forward to many more years. It truly is magical and very romantic.

I ordered the Glazed Ham Steak with scrambled eggs and buttermilk biscuit.

While Tim ordered the Shrimp and Grits: domestic shrimp poached in creole meuniere reduction; served over andouille grits.

Later that night, after a dog of shopping and coffee, we had dinner at The Napoléon House, which happens to be a 200 year old landmark that’s as casual and unique as its French Quarter surroundings.

The building’s first occupant, Nicholas Girod, was mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. He offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile.

Napoleon never made it, but the name stuck, and since then, the Napoleon House has become one of the most famous bars in America, a haunt for artists and writers throughout most of the 20th century.

Owned and operated by the Impastato family since 1914 and Ralph Brennan since May of 2015, it’s a place that suspends you in time, where you can hear Beethoven’s Eroiqua, which he composed for Napoleon, and the music of other classical masters, while sipping a Pimm’s Cup, and basking in an ambiance that could only be New Orleans.

I ordered the Roast Beef Po Boy with a side of red beans and rice, which Tim ordered the Italian Muffuletta with a side of seafood gumbo & jambalaya.

Afterwards, we took an awesome ghost tour with the group: Haunted History Tours.

As many of you already know, I’ve taken a tour with this company, just about every time I have been to New Orleans. I have taken the Vampire Tour 3 times and the Voodoo Tour… but this was my first time taking the 5-in-1 tour, and I hate to say it, but it was my least favorite. Not because of the guide – he was awesome. It was the trying to cram a lot of different things into one. I wouldn’t recommend that one.

For the rest of the trip we did a lot of shopping and a little bit of drinking and a whole lot of eating. One of my favorite spots was Del Fuego on Magazine Street near the Garden District.

We took the St. Charles Street Car down and walked about 6 blocks to Del Fuego.

When I tell you the food was phenomenal… I mean… the food was PHENOMENAL.

We started out with the the Salsas Trio: the fresca, the verde, and the salsa negra. And these homemade tortillas that were to die for. We also ordered the queso. (Because, like… when have I ever turned down queso?)

Tim had the Egg Roll – a monster size egg roll fried like a chimichanga. Stuffed w/ shrimp & carnitas fried rice & seasoned cabbage. Drizzled w/ habanero duck sauce & hot mustard crema. It was HUGE.

I ordered the New Mexico Style Stacked Enchiladas: Chicken tinga, mezcal poblano cream, cheese, crema, side of refried beans & mexican rice.

We rolled ourselves back to the hotel.

There were other yummy surprises and delicious drinks:

But at the end of the day – the most important piece, we relaxed together and had an awesometime!

Our hotel was absolutely gorgeous and decked out for the holidays!

And sure, we spent a small fortune, but it was well worth the trip.

I’ll end right there and pick up next time and share with you all about our Thanksgiving (which we got back home the night before Thanksgiving.)

Until next time…

A Spooktacular October!

I am back, witches! WOW – where did October go? It came in swiftly and left just as quickly. Made it another month into the pandemic and so far, so good!

I had a great week with my niece, Autumn! If you will remember, she came down for a week (during her Fall break,) and we got the opportunity to chill out and chat. I learned so much more about her and what she is dealing with and I feel like we were able to bond more. I am so happy she got the chance to be here. That took an entire week of my time and energy, so that sort of kicked off my absence from writing.

One of the activities we did together was cook! We made the Keto Chocolate donuts that I wrote about last time, plus I taught her how to make red wine braised beef short ribs. I promise to share that recipe later!

Needless to say, they were absolutely amazing!

I also broke out the boxes of Halloween decorations and we started the process of making our home super spooky. I ended up planning a little family Halloween party, which I will share with you a little later. It is hard to believe these decorations have stood the test of time!

I did attend a ribbon cutting for a new tasting room that has made its way to Downtown Americus! The Wolf Creek Plantation winery now has a spot in downtown. How convenient is that?

I also shared my creativity (or lack there of) with the Mattie Stepanik foundation.

They are creating a community mosaic, so we had to paint or color some times. My contribution is above. DON’T LAUGH.

Typical me Coffee down my clothes.

I got lazy with my home pumpkin. But I think she turned out nicely!

To be honest… I’ve gotten pretty lazy in general. So have the animals….

My friends from Chicago came down for a visit and stayed at the Plains Historic Inn! I had such a great time meeting all of their friends and having some excellent girl talk and time!

I also was busy raising awareness about the risk factors and detection of breast cancer. I decorated the Americus Visitor Center and even created an honor wall.

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month and Halloween, it was a little tricky trying to celebrate both in one space.

We ended up doing a really cool pumpkin display with our partners. AND….

We won first place for the city!!!

Shopping for this magical holiday is always so much fun! Haley, Qaijuan and I did the best we could! Want to see our costumes for the week?

Here I am as the proprieter of the Sanderson Sister’s B&B. Yes, that is the blake flame candle I am holding.

Mickey & Minnie enjoyed seeing each other!

I was the bad girl tourist here.

We had a Disney themed day.

Guess who?

Pumpkin Queen!

As you can tell, we had a lot of fun. But it was also a LOT of work.

Speaking of work.. I designed some new items, ordered them and now they are for sell. Again- BUSY!

Somehow through all of this, I have maintained my KETO/Low Carb way of living.

Finally, we wrapped the month up with a Halloween party for the immediate family. We called it a NIGHT TO DISMEMBER.

How did your October shape up?

Narcissism And Me

A lot of people throw around the term narcissist to describes someone with an inflated sense of self. I’ve done it and I’m sure you have also. But are we using it correctly and can we actually identify a narcissist when we come in contact with one.

The definition of narcisssist is: a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.

Okay. Well… maybe I am using the word right. But what about a chronic narcissist? A habitual, toxic behavior that affects everyone and everything around them?

That’s called Narcissistic Personality Dissorder. It is defined as:

A disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance.
Narcissistic personality disorder is found more commonly in men. The cause is unknown but likely involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle any criticism, and a sense of entitlement.

Yep, I’ve met a few of those in my time.

It is no surprise to meet people like that in television or radio. The talent can sometimes have a very high opinion of themselves, while the producer and editors tend to feel intellectually superior. I get it. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

But what other fields have high levels of narcissistic behavior? According to Stewart Cook, an advocate for victims of Narcissistic Abuse & NPD, says:

  • Politicians – their all-consuming hunt for popularity quickly transfers to the voting ballot. Power hungry, short-term vision, an openness to treachery and backhand deals, thriving in the cutthroat environment amongst birds of a feather, fame and recognition. (I KNEW IT)
  • CEOs – wealth, status, trappings. An ability to make touch decisions unemotionally, regardless of the numbers of staff whose life may be wrecked with redundancy. Natural risk takers greedy for success and recognition. Power wielded as they rule over a flock of sycophantic and fawning subordinates.
  • Lawyers – a delight in making money, lots of it, especially if it can be done at the expense of someone else’s misfortune. A good churn of clients on a daily basis. A profession with status and influence – well suited to the cerebral narcissist.
  • Doctors – one’s natural instinct to think of doctors as caring, empathic types and the majority of them are. But this is also a profession that attracts – the positions of power, the opportunity to enjoy someone else’s heartache, the high turnover rate of appointments. Moreover, general practice is a great cover for the narc – projecting a caring reputation and commanding respect in return. The dead giveaway is what would have been referred to in times gone by as an awful bedside manner.
  • Surgeons – as for doctors, but with the added buzz and excitement of high drama and unpredictability that the operating theatre offers. Moreover, it their ability to make calm, quick and unemotional decisions (that can potentially have life implications for patients) can be a big bonus.
  • University Lecturers – centre of attention, admiration of juniors, the chance to laud their wisdom over a large and captive audience – all attractive to the cerebral narc. Particularly as students provide a regular turnover of fresh new faces.(That makes sense. The Child Nerd of the past who was probably bullied and picked on now has the center of attention!)
  • Media and film – widespread recognition and fame.
  • Sportstars – this is an interesting one. There is much logic in there being an attraction to the somatic narc – physical supremacy, the chance to show off in front of thousands of adoring fans, stardom and recognition. But whilst individual events are golden opportunities, team sports pose a problem to the narc – the close proximity to others in pretty intense and testing situations, having to put the team needs ahead of their own. All a bit of a high-risk environment for the narc.
  • Chef – thriving in chaos, a high turnover of less-educated staff, an accepted atmosphere of fear and abuse. We can all picture the irate chef lambasting juniors with all kinds of expletive, controlling the kitchen with an iron fist, the fearful reverance and exaltation they command.
  • Law enforcement – with a smart uniform, shiny badge and side-arm to hide behind, the ultimate narcissistic mask. Wielding more power that they perhaps should, it is easy to understand how a narc policeman might end his career outed as a rotten apple.
  • Military – as per law enforcement. But with the added buzz of being empowered to commit the ultimate act of supremacy – taking another human being’s life. Unlike the policeman, however, the soldier lives and works in teams, again under pretty extreme and intense conditions. Harder therefore to get away undetected.
  • Priests and Clergy – particularly the gentler type who lack confidence in their sexuality. An uniform and stereotypical and ready-made persona to hide behind, the opportunity to work with the more vulnerable in society; the voyeuristic access to personal information, secrets and situations, the protection that their host organisation has traditionally provided them, a ready-made flock of acolytes.
  • Public relations – the manipulation, the acting, the lack of moral compass for a theme, or empathy towards individuals affected by stories, the thrill of chaos. (EEK… I’m in that world… yeah, I can see it. And yes, I am probably guilty. Pot & Kettle, you know?)
  • Criminals– drugs dealer, pimp etc. For the low-functioning narc, crime is a natural haven and it is of little surprise that studies show a quarter of the prison population typically having NPD. For them, a life of crime offers excitement to the risk-seeker.

Cook really nailed these descriptions on the head!

What I am learning, is that when you are surrounded by narcissists, the environment can be super draining. Just this morning, someone came into my office to discuss a wide variety of topics. Most of it was classic mansplaining and the other half were these half baked ideas on what we should be doing. We as in – Me and doing as in – already done. (Clueless person.) I try to avoid this person, because everytime I spend any amount of time with them, I feel like all of my energy has been drained from my body. A true emotional vampire.

According to starbentrecovery.com, there are signs you have been around one:

For starters, although it may sound strange, but being around a narcissist can leave you with wildly conflicted feelings. For example, do you find your emotions swinging from unconditional love and utter devotion for this person to a nagging, gut feeling of wanting to run far, far away? Yep.

That’s because narcissists run hot and cold. So you can expect to experience sublime feelings of bliss and elation when everything is going well. But if you displease or irritate this person, he or she is likely to get angry, become dismissive, or punish you through rejection.

Narcissists do one thing exceptionally well, and that is playing the drama card. Feeling emotionally drained after spending time with a narcissist is commonplace, as is having the feeling of extreme happiness or devastation when you’re with them.

According to Psychology Today, it is important to carefully assess those we allow into our personal space. We must go beyond what looks good on paper, and instead focus on character traits and value systems. When you consider getting involved or working with someone new, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

How does this person treat other people?
How do they behave in public?
How do they treat their children?
Do they display kindness and empathy toward others?
Are they judgmental or critical of other people?
Are they intolerant of differences in culture, race, religion, or gender?
Are they inclusive and tolerant of other people’s opinions and values?
Do they always have to be right or win?
Another vital litmus test when becoming involved someone new is to ask yourself, “How do I feel in the presence of this person?” And you have to keep asking yourself this question, particularly when you have become vulnerable or have shared your vulnerable feelings, problems, or personal issues with them.

I think the best we can do today is keep our heads up, our hearts open, and our narcissist blocking shield elevated! What about you? Do you have any experience with a narcissist?

Keto Chocolate Glazed Donuts & A Little Rebellious Whiskey

Let’s Talk about these Whiskey Rebels! In particular, the book by David Liss.

What a spectacular biographical historical fiction novel! This is my first book by Liss and I definitely plan to read more. This book was set post American Revolution and featured two different story lines that eventually combine. (I love when a writer does that.) You have Joan Maycott – an aspiring novelist married to a war vet. They find themselves with useless war bonds and are swindled into trading those for property “out west” (aka Pittsburg area,) for bountiful land. As you can imagine, they run into what they call “savages,” and thick woods and rough necks with nothing to lose. Then there is Ethan Saunders, a former Captain in the army that worked as a spy but was falsely accused of being a traitor and British sympathizer. He is in love with a Mrs. Pearson and spends his days trying to right his name and win her love. I won’t go into too much detail, because that would totally give the story away. However, there is a lot of historical accuracy in this book, as well as some delicious fiction.

Despite the title, the story actually does not go into the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. It does however deal with the proceeding years, when a Whiskey tax was placed on distilleries. Obviously, the rebels were very upset with the taxes and went right after Hamilton and the American Banking System. The book introduces us to some real characters in the world during that time and you travel from the woods of Pennsylvania to New York.

READ IT. I loved it. Seriously.

Okay… now for those donuts… the REAL reason you clicked on this page!

Low Carb – Keto Chocolate Glazed Donuts

Donut Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. coconut flour
  • 1/2 c. Swerve, confectioners sugar
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk (I used Lactaid – Whole milk)
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. Swerve, confectioners sugar
  • 2 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Grease Donut pan.

Preheat over to 350 F.

Donuts: Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Then add the wet ingredients to that bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth.

Pipe into the donut wells to 2/3rds full. Bake 20 minutes, then cool on a rack.

While cooling, make the glaze:

Add cream, Swerve, and chocolate to a double boiler and simmer.

Turn heat to low and add the vanilla and stir until the chocolate melts.

Dip the donuts in the glaze and let cool. (I placed in the frig for an hour or so.)

That’s it! Have a great day!!

Welcome October!

I am so excited that it is October! This HAS to be one of my favorite months of the year!

But first… to catch you up on the things I am not going to write about:

I’ve had a bit of a delay in writing because last week was super busy! We are preparing for Halloween at my office and that includes a few activities (that will mainly be virtual!) I ordered that adorable pumpkin above from Amazon. As many of you know, I am a HUGE fan of anything that is themed out or involves a costume, so obviously, that makes Halloween on of my absolute favorite holidays!

In Americus, the Downtown Main Street group asked all of the businesses to decorate their windows for the Great Pumpkin Wars. I took the task to heart and called all of the departments in the city, as well as all of the tourist attractions, to donate a decorated pumpkin that represents their brand. I’m looking forward to seeing what we end up with. On Monday, the 26th, the displays will be uploaded to FB for the People’s Choice Award. That means, I will provide a link here and you can go online and “like” your favorite display. Then on that Wednesday, judges will come by and pick the best. I most certainly hope we win!

Plus, I’m having my staff dress in costumes each day. This will also be uploaded to FB for a “Who wore it best?” Halloween costume contest that people can vote on!

Last week, I got a chance to wish my neighbor, former President Jimmy Carter, a very happy birthday!

All of the neighbors went onto the compound and did a drive-by parade to wish him happy birthday! It was really sweet. He spoke to everyone as we passed! The media were not invited in, so this was really, super special for the people of Plains.

Speaking of media, on Friday, we had a media day with SAM Shortline. television stations from Macon, Albany, and Columbus rode the train in the super private, luxury car known as the Dearing.

We had a little reception and basically spent the day chatting with journalists and doing interviews.

I ran into one of my old tv news anchors I used to work with, Suzanne Lawler. It was great to see an old friend!

I even took some time to eat at the Buffalo Cafe with my buddies Nichole from the newspaper and Qaijuan.

The weather was perfect and it was a great day! It almost felt normal again.

On Saturday, I kicked the morning off with my final photography class.

I am thrilled I got the opportunity to understand manual digital photography so much better. I am considering taking Photo II in the coming months, but for now, I want to master what I have learned.

After the class, I ran downtown to the Peace Day celebrating at Lenny’s Market in Americus.

My friend Jeni & Laura held a very successful event that attracted over 100 people. Everyone was socially distanced and wore face masks.

Dorian was such a good boy. I took him with me! Can you believe he is 7 months old now?

That night, Tim and I had a little beef stew and watched our first of many upcoming Halloween movies.

Later, we tried this new KETO dessert… but…. it was waaaay too sweet. I’d recommend.

The next day we got up and I wanted to try out my new photography skills. So we drove to Dawson, about 30 minutes south of us and headed to Mark’s Melon Patch.

As always, the farm stand was awesome! However, it was super crowded and very few people were wearing masks. We kept our distance and kept our masks on. I zipped in and took some pics and we headed out.

Here are some of the crops I took pics of:

There is a whole field of Zinnias.

You could get fresh peanuts, dried peanuts, fried peanuts or boiled peanuts. I’m more partial to the boiled peanuts, however, there was a huge line and too many people.

They have a corn maze. Folks can even come at night with flashlights and navigate the area.

Scoppernogs!

Beautiful sunflowers

Craft area for kids to paint pumpkins

And of course, an area to pick your pumpkins!

There are games, food , hay rides, and music. This really does click off many items on your Fall bucket list!

And finally, to wrap up my first week of October:

Need I say more?

Nothing Changes

It is the day after the debates and of course, nothing changes for any of us. If we were for Biden, we are still for Biden. If we were for Trump, we are still for Trump. Maybe we are disappointed in how it went down, but really, nothing changes.

Fact checkers will bring the facts and sheep will follow their leader blindly, and the undecided are probably thinking they will withhold their vote.

God only knows.

Moving on…

I have been creatively blocked as of late. Can’t think of a single thing to write about. Maybe that means all is calm and good.

This week we celebrated Alex’s 19th birthday at a little local Mexican restaurant, La Hacienda in Americus.

I enjoyed a delicious margarita and shrimp fajita (without rice or tortilla.)

My photography class is going strong. Took the third class we covered aperture. OMG… our assignment was so hard. Not so much use the F stops, but more so getting the ISO right.

Here are a few of my pics:

Slowly, but surely, I am getting the hang of it. Taking the camera off automatic is not an easy task.

My stepdaughter and her husband are renovating a home. It is a beautiful home, but needs a lot of work. Cotton, my glamdaughter, is super excited about the space.

At the end of the day, the world still spins and nothing has changed, but somehow, everything has changed.

Here’s to another day!

Are You Truly Living?

I have wasted years and years and years worrying, plotting, and just randomly pushing my way through life. I think at some point, I thought that if I worried hard enough, then things would have to go right.

Oh how wrong I was!

I have wasted so much time hoping, wishing, praying things would be different. And though I am quick to change and improve my situation, the very idea that I wasted even an ounce of precious time on things that really meant nothing to me or did me zero good, is a little disappointing.

My ex-manager that was fired back in February was found dead in a hotel room in Atlanta last week at the age of 52.

That’s not very old.

I don’t know the details surrounding his death, but one thing kept coming up in my thoughts was, “He definitely didn’t see this coming.”

I know for a fact that he tried so very hard to “be somebody.” He wanted to be noticed and I think he spent so much time and heart ache trying to get that validation. It never came. It actually was a repellent for most people.

What a shame.

I don’t want that for my life. I want to live as authentically, as healthy, as full of life as I possibly can! What about you? Are you taking advantage of the time you have left?

I hope this year, if nothing else, has taught us to take a minute and reevaluate what is important to us.

Fall is Upon Us and Other Good News

Happy Monday and man oh man, does it feel like Autumn outside! What a fantastic time of year!

First up, I had one of the most relaxing weekends to date! Friday night, Tim and I watched Ant-Man & The Wasp and ate my favorite Keto Pizza Casserole. (If you want the recipe, just click at the top of the blog on the section titled recipes!) Saturday, I spent the day playing with Dorian, cleaning, reading, and I had my Photography Class with the Atlanta School of Photography!

That night, we made wings in the Air Fryer and then sat outside by a fire with Tim’s youngest. It was a gorgeous night, cool wind and clear skies!

The next morning, I got up and realized that the weather was brisk and chilly and immediately woke Tim and up and insisted we go outside and have our morning coffee by the fire. We had some wonderful conversations and just relaxed. Truly relaxed, with each other.

My dog ended up having the best day ever! He gnawed on sticks and chased his Kong squeaky tennis ball. We sat our there from about 9:30 am until after noon.

Then it was nap time for all of us!

Later that night we grilled some steaks and watched Captain Marvel. I can’t remember if I told you guys, but I am on this Marvel Marathon for Tim. He complains that I never watch anything he likes, so out-of-the-blue, I surprised him and said I wanted to see each of the movies, in order of release. His eyes perked up and I knew I made the right decision. Best news – I am actually enjoying it. And in basic Nicole fashion, I ask a ton of questions and Tim loves sharing all of his historical comic book knowledge with me. It’s cute, really, and I am entertained. Just two more to go…… Tonight is End Game and I hear it is a tear jerker. Should be interesting.

Speaking of tear jerkers… man. The Notorious RBG left us. Let’s hope in November we can turn things around.

Okay, I gave this a try. I did NOT like it. I ended up giving it to Tim. BUT… if you are a sweets person, this may be your jam. Tim picked the mint chocolate chip which was only 4g and much, much better than mine. I might try it again, pending my need.

I just had to show off Big Boy at 7 months old! Look at how tall he is. He was such a good boy this weekend. And sweet!

Less land sharkish.

And here is my good news: I am 21 pounds down! Yes, I did it. I met my goal and exceeded by 1 pound. Next up – 10 more by Christmas. Slow and steady wins the race.

I hope everyone has an awesome week! Let’s do this!

Pumpkin Spice and All Things Nice

THANK GOD it is almost Fall. We are so, so close. Even the weather is starting to cool off down here in the South. Granted, we love the Spring and parts of Summer, but by the time the leaves change, we are a little over the natural sauna.

Alright… but first… here is why I am NOT writing a third part to my Panic Disorder piece.

That still shot above is killing me. lol

Okay… FALL>

I usually come up with some type of a bucket list, but this year is going to be tricky. Socially distanced fun? What does that look like? Also, I can’t exactly make all of the sugary holiday snacks…. or can I?

I did a little recipe research on my favorite site – Pinterest. Here are a few that really caught my eye:

Recipe HERE
Recipe HERE
Recipe HERE
Recipe HERE
https://beautyandthefoodie.com/keto-pumpkin-streusel-bread/

Click on the link below each recipe.

Hmmmm….. who wants to try one now?