Beef & Brown Rice Stuffed Peppers

I made this a couple of nights ago, and boy was it delicious! We still have some of the filling left over, so this recipe makes a ton of food! That is just the way I like it because David and I depend on leftovers for work lunches.

All of my ingredients were on sale, so this was a very frugal meal. I also never measure out spices/seasonings–I just add a few shakes from the jar here and there and sample along the way until I like the way it tastes. I basically used whatever spices sounded good to me, so you can use whatever you want! This recipe makes a ton, so you’ll have leftovers for days. It’s also enough to serve 6-8 people. Here goes!

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Ingredients:

6-8 bell peppers (I used green)
1 cup brown rice
2 lb ground beef/turkey/chicken (I used 1 lb lean ground beef and 1 lb lean ground turkey)
1 onion, diced
garlic, minced (however much you want)
salt + pepper
paprika
thyme
onion powder
Dale’s liquid seasoning (this made the dish extra delicious)

Start off by cutting off the tops of the bell peppers and de-seeding them. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake the topless peppers (haha) until soft and slightly charred. Meanwhile, sauté an onion and some garlic in a pan with some olive oil until soft and fragrant (do not let your garlic burn). I also diced the tops of the bell peppers and added them to the pan to avoid waste. Prepare the brown rice according to the package directions.

Once the onion and garlic are soft, add the meat to the pan to cook. Break it up into small pieces so it will fit into the peppers easily. By this time, the rice should be finished, so add that to the meat and veggie pan. Add your spices and mix everything together. Pull the peppers out of the oven and stuff them with the filling. Top with cheese and put them back into the oven. Let them bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Enjoy!

 

Double Chocolate Coffee Protein Shake

One of my go-to breakfasts during the summer are protein shakes or smoothies. Heavy bowls of hot oatmeal or eggs don’t really work for me during this season since it is so hot outside–cold smoothies are refreshing for these humid, hot days. They are also so easy to make and customize.

I’ve recently discovered that I’m sensitive to lactose, so I try to stay away from dairy products and whey protein. I ordered some Vega (dairy and soy free) protein packets to try since so many people recommended this brand (shout out to one of my besties Megan Britt), and so far I love the chocolate flavor. I still have to try the Vanilla and Berry and I cannot wait. I used the chocolate in this morning’s protein shake–which was delicious! Try it for yourself!

I used:
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*1 packet chocolate Vega protein powder (it looked equivalent to one scoop)
*Approximately 1/2 cup ice
*1 packet instant coffee
*1 scoop all-natural peanut butter
*1 capful vanilla extract
*1 teaspoon cocoa powder (the protein powder is usually enough chocolate flavor, I just like mine with extra cocoa goodness)
*1 packet stevia
*Enough almond milk to get everything moving (maybe 3/4 to 1 cup)

Throw everything into a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Food + Fashion + Beauty Products I Love

I want to mention that the only photos that are mine in this post are the chicken pizza photo and the one of me and my friends at the lake. Thanks for reading!

FOOD

Dunkin Donuts Chocolate Glazed Donut Coffee

I love this coffee because of it’s subtle chocolate flavor. To me, coffee and chocolate are a match made in heaven, kind of like peanut butter and chocolate. I pair it with a little bit of cream and stevia or vanilla coffee creamer. Yum!

Meatzza

I’ve seen the cauliflower pizza crust craze on Pinterest and tried it….but I wasn’t impressed. It tasted pretty good, but it ALWAYS falls apart. I saw a recipe for a pizza crust using a package of ground chicken breast and decided to try it. AMAZING! I’ve made it a dozen times in the past few months. It is way more flavorful than a bread crust and does not fall apart. The trick is to add about a cup of raw oats to the meat and a lot of spices/seasonings. I made a BBQ version last night and it was incredible.

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Homemade Oatmeal Protein Pancakes

I’ve made these for breakfast almost every morning for the past week. They are freaking delicious, healthy and filling. I switch it up every time I make them–I like to add mixed berries, chocolate chips, banana, grated apple and cinnamon. Top with a little maple syrup or honey. To a blender, add 1/2 cup raw oats, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1 egg, 2 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp white sugar or stevia, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 to 1 cup milk of choice. Add the toppings after you pour the batter into pancake circles in the pan.

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Mio Drink Enhancers

I have a hard time drinking enough water, which leaves me really dehydrated by the end of the day. A tiny squirt of a Mio drink enhancer in my iced water makes it much easier to stay hydrated because it tastes good! A little bit goes a LONG way. I love the blueberry lemonade and strawberry watermelon.

FASHION

Rompers

I used to think rompers were dumb and meant for little girls only. Now I LOVE them. They are comfortable and come in all sorts of fun patterns and colors. TJ Maxx is my favorite place to purchase them because they are always under $15. I recently bought this one in the photo below and have already worn it a few times! Love it.

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Roxy Apparel

I’ve really been into Roxy stuff for casual summer fashion. I have a Roxy swimsuit that I purchased at TJ Maxx (surprised? lol) a few years ago and it has held up great. I wear it a TON every summer and it still looks brand new. I also have a few Roxy tanks, a skirt and some flip flops that I love as well. Their stuff is amazing quality and so cute.

Kate Hudson’s Fabletics Workout Clothes

I saw Fabletics being advertised on Facebook a lot, so I decided to check it out. If you sign up with them (totally free), you can order a full workout outfit for only $25 with free shipping. I purchased this tank in fuchsia and these capri leggings in dark gray. I’m very happy with everything and I would definitely order from Fabletics again!

BEAUTY

Marc Anthony Beach Waves Spray

I received this spray in one of my recent Ipsy glam bags and am in love with it. In the summer, I always let my hair air dry since the humidity is so bad. If I try to style it, it just frizzes. After I shower, I just spritz this in my hair to give it some natural beachy waves. It smells heavenly too, like coconuts.

Dead Sea Treatment Facial Moisturizer

I found this moisturizer at TJ Maxx (I think I may be slightly obsessed) a few weeks ago and love everything about it. It was a steal at $4.99 and it feels great on my face. I have very dry skin, so this moisturizer helps with that. It doesn’t cause breakouts and also smells very clean. I always apply it after a shower and randomly during the day if my facial skin is feeling dry or tight.

Urban Decay 24/7 Velvet Glide-On Eye Pencil

This was another Ipsy glam bag item, and I loved it. I received it two months ago and I already finished it. I think Urban Decay is my favorite makeup line. This eyeliner glides on so easily and I never had to push down too hard. I need to go buy some more since I’m out! I highly recommend this eyeliner!

Bath & Body Works Aruba Coconut Body Lotion

This lotion smells so beachy and incredible. I need to buy a bunch of bottles to use during the depressing winter!

30 Random Facts About Me

For some odd reason, surveys bring me great joy! They are so fun to fill out and I also love reading other people’s answers! I haven’t filled one of these out in so long. Here goes….

1. What is your favorite smell?
The smell of Home Depot & Lowes, clean laundry, eucalyptus

2. What is your favorite thing to snack on?
Crackers/veggies & hummus, fruit

3. What are you afraid of?
Tornadoes, fires, bugs, spiders, bad things happening to people I love

4. What is your favorite alcoholic beverage?
Mojitos

5. What do you like to watch on TV?
I don’t have cable, but I do have NETFLIX! But I love LOST, 19 Kids & Counting, Prison Break, Desperate Housewives, Pretty Little Liars, documentaries

6. Do you prefer pepsi or coke?
Coke!

7. What song is stuck in your head right now?
“Not A Bad Thing” by: Justin Timberlake (my favorite song right now)

8. Name a random fact about yourself.
I am a certified open water scuba diver

9. Who is your funniest friend?
Christine, Allison, Emily Ann, Timothy

10. What is your favorite place in the entire world?
St. Simons Island, Georgia

11. If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life.. what would it be?
A sundress….or maybe yoga leggings and a workout top haha

12. What is your pet peeve?
When people ignore or interrupt me, dirty dishes in the sink, when people get really close to my face to talk to me

13. Name something that makes you smile.
My dogs.

14. What is the song you last heard?
“Rubber Band Man” … random I know

15. Who is the last person to text message you?
My mom.

16. Who is the last person you hugged?
David

17. What is your favorite vegetable?
Cucumber.

18. What are your six most favorite things in your bedroom?
Clothes, knock-off scentsy scented wax warmer, bed, ceiling fan (I cannot sleep without it on), pretty curtains, little decorative bench that holds extra clothes, sheets, etc.

19. Who is your favorite female celebrity?
Meryl Streep

20. Who is your favorite male celebrity?
Steve Carell

21. What are you wearing right now?
Workout shorts and a tank top.

22. Name the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear: RAINBOW
Beauty

23. Would you rather have no sense of smell or taste?
No sense of smell, for sure. I love tasting food too much!

24. What happened in the last dream you had?
I was in a rush to scuba dive and jumped into the water and descended too fast. And the group I was with left me. It was scary!

25. Look behind you… what is there?
Bed headboard and the wall.

26. Dream vacation spot?
Greek islands, New Zealand

27. What would you do with the money if you won the lottery?
Travel around the world!

28. What is under your bed?
Scuba stuff

29. What store would you choose to max out your credit card?
TJ Maxx/Homegoods

30. What is your favorite physical feature on the opposite sex?
Good teeth, muscular, and taller than me (David!!!)

Pros & Cons: Working From Home

I’ve been thinking a lot about the job I have now. It isn’t a typical 8-5 office job because I’m able to make my own schedule. I can do this because I work for a smaller, local newspaper with a really laid back editor who lets employees do what works best for them.

Since I am on the topic of jobs, I want to mention that I have really struggled to find “the job” for me ever since I graduated college in 2010 with my Bachelor’s. I had this vision during my senior year of college of graduating, immediately scoring a high-paying job and living in a cool apartment in Buckhead. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I moved back into my parent’s house because I didn’t have a job lined up and no way to pay for my own rent and bills. Womp womp. I remember spending all day on the computer applying for jobs and feeling really bad about myself. Several people suggested graduate school, but I was so burned out from college that there was no way I could even survive the grad school application, haha! I got a Communications/Marketing internship at Emory University that was the best job I have ever had, but the only negative thing about it was that it was only temporary. They were nice enough to extend it by a few months, but it eventually came to an end.

I went through a long period of being jobless after that internship. Luckily I got married in the midst of that time, so I could move out of mom and dad’s and live with my new husband. I then began the infamous Job Hopping Period. I never was fired or laid off from any of these jobs, it was my decision to leave each time (minus the temporary internship that ended on its own). In a short amount of time I worked at Chateau Elan (horrible), UroMed (OK), The Georgia Club (terrible- I was a Marketing Coordinator but it was really just a glorified receptionist position), Elite Academy (good, but I realized I don’t want to be a teacher), and The Paper (present job). I started off as a freelance writer for The Paper in March of 2012 when I worked for UroMed, but it eventually turned into the job I have now, which is a Staff Writer/Reporter. Like I said earlier, I don’t have to go into the office to work. I do have to go out in the field to events, interviews, new business openings, festivals, etc. in order to receive information and photos for my stories, but I always write at home or at a coffee shop. People always ask me if I like working from home better than going to an office, and the truth is, YES! However, there are a few things that I miss. I’ve listed the pros and cons below.

PROS:

I don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn. I have never been a morning person. I think this is because I like to stay up late and tend to be more productive during the evening hours. I get a second wind after dinner. For example, I’ll make a plan with myself to deep clean our bathroom on a certain day. I will procrastinate all day long, but will end up doing it at 8:00 at night. Then I’ll get on a kick and vacuum, scrub the floors, put away laundry, bathe my dogs, put away clean dishes, and tidy up. Before I know it, it is almost midnight. This is very common for me! I usually wake up between 8:00-8:30 every morning and work throughout the day, unless I have to go somewhere to cover an event or interview someone. I love not having to leave the house on those early, dark, cold, rainy mornings!

I can work from the comfort of my own home and don’t have to waste time commuting to work. I almost always work in my pajamas or change into workout clothes since I usually start working as soon as I wake up and eat breakfast. If I do have to go somewhere work related, I get reimbursed for my gas and obviously have to wear something a little more business casual, haha.

When I’m finished with work for the day, I’m free to do whatever I want. When I used to work in an office, I was stuck there until 5:00 every day, even if I finished everything by noon. If I finish my work by noon on a random Tuesday, then I have the rest of the day to myself.

My home is always tidy and taken care of. I can do laundry while I’m working and tidy up the kitchen during a quick brain break. If I’m spending a lot of time at home working, I want to look around and see cleanliness.

My dogs are never left alone all day. They hang out with me while I work. Sometimes they distract me by laying their heads on the keyboard so I can’t type and have to pay attention to them!

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“Stop typing mommy. Pay attention to me.”

I have flexibility. I make my own schedule (but I do have strict deadlines), so if I need to take a Friday off, I can. I just make sure everything is completed by Thursday.

CONS:

I LOVE clothes, fashion and putting together outfits. If I have to cover an event, I wear my work clothes, but most of the time I’m working at home and wear workout clothes or a tshirt with shorts or yoga pants. I do miss wearing real clothes every day.

I miss constantly being around people. I like to talk and socialize, and could always do so in an office. There is always someone to talk to throughout the day. Sometimes I get a little stir crazy at home and miss having co-workers. I made some good friends at the past jobs I’ve had.

The general camaraderie that happens at an office or any other work environment. I guess this one goes hand in hand with the “being around people” thought, but I thought I’d list it because it is kind of specific. Pranks, parties, gatherings, lunch outings with co-workers, etc.

Free coffee. It was Community Coffee, not Starbucks, but it was still a nice touch.

For some odd reason, people think that I just sit around at home all day eating ice cream out of the carton and watch T.V. when they hear “work from home”. It gets looked down upon, especially from people who work out of the home 100% of the time. It is unfortunate, but it is true. Even though I’m at home, I still have a job, I have lots of work to do and I get paychecks.

That’s all I can think of for now. I really enjoy working from home and having flexibility in my hours, but there are aspects that I do miss a about going to an office or workplace. I am very thankful to have a job that I enjoy instead of dread.

 

Summer 2014 Bucket List

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Hiking last summer at Table Rock Trail, SC.

Summer is my absolute favorite time of year. I love hot weather, afternoon thunderstorms, beach/pool/lake days, the super long hours of daylight, the smell of sunscreen, fresh produce, cookouts, and much more. I feel like summer always goes by so fast and slips between my fingers (how is it already mid June?), so I decided to come up with a fun little “Summer Bucket List” to ensure we make lots of memories.

1. Lots of pool days. David and I are members of our local YMCA. It has a huge pool which I want to use a lot this summer to keep my tan that I acquired on vacation during the last week of May. We have already been a few times and I cannot wait to go back. We didn’t get to go much last summer since it rained every single day.

2. Hiking trips in the mountains. We only live between 1-3 hours from the mountains, so it is so convenient to just pack up and head north. There are a lot of great hiking spots that I’d love to hit this summer–Blood Mountain, Grandfather Mountain, etc. Hiking is great because it is inexpensive, fun and great exercise. It is dog friendly too!

3. Beach! I’ve always been a beach lover. I used to cry when my family packed up to go home from a week at the beach when I was younger. There is something so special about the ocean and the sand. I’ve already been to a few beaches this summer and cannot wait to smell the salty air some more. I could stay out on the beach from sunrise to sunset. We are headed to the Georgia coast at the end of August and we are thinking about going to Destin for a long weekend of scuba (we may wait until September). We dove in Panama City last summer and it was so much fun!

4. Lake Jocassee. This is a fun lake in South Carolina that has all sorts of scuba diving opportunities. It is NOTHING like diving in the ocean or Caribbean Sea, but it is still very fun. It’s surrounded by mountains which is a plus! You can go as deep as 100 feet and see all sorts of props that are sunken at the bottom–an airplane, basketball hoop, boats, poker chips, bowling balls, etc. There are fish and turtles that come out to play as well. There are certain areas that are pretty clear, but some that are murky with about 5 feet of visibility. Two summers ago, we hopped on a boat with a dive shop crew from somewhere in South Carolina and dove with them. I remember they had free homemade ice cream and corn dogs! It was such a fun time, so I want to do it again!

5. Cookouts with friends and family. I love hosting, and summer is the perfect time to do it. It doesn’t get dark until after 9:00!

6. Spend a day at Six Flags or Lake Lanier Beach and Waterpark. I haven’t been to either one of these in YEARS! I could probably only stand one day at each….I’m not sure I could handle the clientele for more than a day, haha.

7. Date nights in Athens. These are my favorite casual date nights in the summer. We love to eat at Jason’s Deli (because of the free froyo, duh) outside on their patio, get coffees at Starbucks or Jittery Joes, and then take the dogs for a walk around downtown Athens and UGA’s campus. This is so much fun to do when the weather is warm.

8. Spend a day in Greenville with Christine and John. Greenville is an amazing city and it’s (kind of) halfway between our two cities! We can spend the day walking around the city and lounging at Falls Park.

Here’s to a fun rest of the summer! I hope it doesn’t fly by!

Travel Bucket List

The other night at small group, we opened the discussion with an ice breaker question. The question was “what is your dream vacation?”. It was so fun to listen to everyone talk about where they want to travel to…Australia, Montana, Alaska, Tahiti…they all sounded amazing! I decided to put together a list of places that I want to explore. Hopefully I’ll get to visit these places sometime!

Greece

Ever since I watched Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Mamma Mia, I’ve longed to travel to Greece–specifically the Greek Islands like Mykonos and Santorini. In movies and photos, everything looks so blue and dreamy. I’d love to sit on a patio with this view while sipping coffee and planning out a day of exploration.

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Mykonos. It’s so blue! Source.

Oia, Santorini

Santorini. Source.

Australia

There is so much that Australia has to offer. Amazing cities, scuba diving, the Outback, and more. I also love the way that Aussies talk. Sydney and Melbourne seem like fun places to explore…I’d also love to dive in the Great Barrier Reef.

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Sydney. Source.

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Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Looks amazing! Source.

Melbourne. Source.

Melbourne. Source.

Italy

After watching Eat, Pray, Love, Italy made its way onto my travel bucket list. Rome, Venice, Naples, Florence, Milan, and Cinque Terre are places that I’d love to see. Authentic Italian gelato, pizza and pasta all sound delicious as well.

Coliseum in Rome. Source.

Coliseum in Rome. Source.

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Cinque Terre. Source.

Naples. Source.

Naples. Source.

Bora Bora

I mean, who wouldn’t want to travel to this paradise? This place doesn’t even look real. Is it real? Because I’ve never seen anything more beautiful. Must go here.

Bora Bora. Source.

Bora Bora. Source.

Switzerland

I’m more of a tropical beach gal than a mountains gal, but the photos of Switzerland look absolutely stunning. I’d love to walk around Swiss cities with views of these beautiful snow-capped mountains.

Curaçao

Word on the street is that the diving is incredible around this little island just north of Venezuela. Aruba and Bonaire are nearby and I’ve heard great things about those as well.

So happy and cheerful. Source.

So happy and cheerful. Source.

New Zealand

This one is pretty self explanatory.

I'd love to hike around in this exact spot! Source.

I’d love to hike around in this exact spot! Source.

Mallorca, Spain

I’ve been to Spain, but never to this Spanish island. I’m pretty sure Rafael Nadal is from here.

Mallorca. Source.

Mallorca. Source.

There are a lot more places I’d like to go, but this is just a list of my top choices. What is your dream vacation?