Happy 2018!

Self-care in early sobriety

I didn’t go through a traditional “recovery” program when I stopped drinking. I just stopped, with very little plan in place. Luckily, things didn’t get bad enough to seek any sort of help and I was able to quit on my own. But, the more I read about more traditional recovery methods, the more I see the term “self-care” and I realize that I practiced some self-care habits without even knowing that it was such a thing. These self-care habits helped me immensely in my early days of sobriety and I thought I’d share some of mine with you today.

Detox Tea:



I drank this concoction daily–often multiple times a day–during the early days of my sobriety. I think I first tried it due to a head cold, but found it so comforting that I continued on with it through that winter and beyond.

To make:

Take one small “knob” of ginger root, peeled and diced into chunks. (Not too small, because then the chunks will float up and you’ll inadvertently drink them. You want the chunks to hang out in the bottom of the mug.)

Pour boiling water over the top and let it steep for several minutes.

Squeeze the juice of one lemon in plus a shake of cayenne pepper, about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and either a little Stevia or a drop or two of honey to taste.

This “tea” also does wonders for a sore throat or cough. The cayenne warms from the inside and it’s oddly comforting. It’ll cure what ails you–be it physical or emotional.


I threw myself into a few different classes at my gym during those early days of sobriety. I was searching for a place to be social, (well, about as social as I ever care to be…spoiler alert: not very social) that didn’t involve the prospect of “going for drinks” and my local YMCA filled that niche for me. I found a few classes (and instructors) that I liked and I went religiously to those classes. This, along with omitting the calories from alcohol, resulted in a pretty significant weight-loss for me. For the first time in my life, I felt strong–in every sense of the word. It was a game-changer for sure. 


I dove into a few books during this time too. I enjoyed having time before bed when I was sober and I looked forward to reading before sleep. I remember enjoying “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom during this time. It was great to feel like I wasn’t alone.

Also, this book: “Mommy Doesn’t Drink Here Anymore: Getting Through the First Year of Sobriety

I still practice self-care on a daily basis. I’ve learned that I have to address my needs before they pile up and explode in my face. I make no apologies about taking care of myself.


Tell us how you practice “self-care”…


Happy 2018!

Taco Tuesday No More!

…a weekly meal planning post. 


Last week, knowing that I had several Thanksgiving dishes to prepare, I did not have any interest in cooking meals for my family. I was in a rut. Big time. So, when I got the Cook Smarts email, announcing that week’s menu, I wasn’t as excited as I usually am. 

But, I also knew that, regardless of how much Thanksgiving prep I had to do, that pesky family of mine would need to, you know, eat and stuff too, so I picked a couple of Cook Smarts meals to make.

It just so happens that I’m SO happy that I did because they turned out beautifully and tasted so good–when, otherwise, I probably would’ve gotten us something quick and easy (and unhealthy) like fast food. 

I made the Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo with Brown Rice last week. 

gumbo ingredients

We’re lucky because, living where we do, we have a pretty steady supply of venison meat that’s given to us often and we always have a freezer full of really tasty venison sausage, so I used that in this recipe. Also, I had forgotten how much I love okra until this recipe last week. 

gumo pot

The recipe called for a roux–which, I’m not gonna lie–intimidates the pants off of me. But! It was so easy! The smell of gumbo bubbling on the stovetop was heavenly.  

gumbo bowl

The gumbo turned out wonderful! Hearty and perfect for a chilly night. It also tasted so good ahead of a week full of gluttony and sugar. The protein from the shrimp and sausage really packed a punch and even a small bowl stuck with me for a long time. 

Now, here’s some great news for you…

Cook Smarts

From now through December 6, 2016, Cook Smarts is offering a 40% off all meal plan subscriptions AND gift certificates with the code HAPPYCOOKING. What a fabulous Holiday gift for someone who enjoys healthy food–or, for someone who might want to explore healthier options in the New Year! 

I love gifts that don’t take up space in my home, and gifts that offer an “experience” for the recipient are such a fun thing. You could also plan ahead for the New Year and treat yourself (and your family) to stress-free, organized meal plans for next year.. 

You can read more about my experiences with Cook Smarts HERE and HERE


(This post contains affiliate links that help support the maintenance and operation of this website)

Happy 2018!

A sober holiday–post mortem

This was my 6th sober Thanksgiving and I’d be lying if I said that there weren’t moments that I wished that I still drank. 

For some reason, (ok, mainly hormones, I think) I was extra maudlin this year. I got weepy when I pulled out my grandmother’s dressing recipe on Wednesday. Seeing her handwriting and hearing her words and manner of speaking come back to life on that recipe card felt like a sucker-punch and I missed her and my grandfather so much. Thanksgiving was always spent with them. It was never fancy–paper plates, “cheese dip” in the crockpot for snacking on and football on the tv, but it is some of my very best memories. When I look at my kids and think about how much my grandparents would’ve enjoyed them, I get so sad. 

Nanny's Dressing recipe

In the midst of all of this self-pity, I went outside while the dressing was cooking to get some fresh air and cry a little without my kids seeing. As I sat on the deck, thinking about my grandparents, a pair of cardinals–a male and female–flitted down to my birdfeeder, right next to me. If you know anything about what cardinals symbolize, you’ll understand why this comforted me.

Image courtesy of www.truthfollower.com


Several times, on Thanksgiving day, as everyone around me popped open a bottle of celebratory wine, or when someone nuzzled a toasty glass of bourbon by the firepit–those times, it hit me. I wanted to feel that ritual. I missed that feeling of having something special on a special day. But, then I have to remind myself that, the way that I abused alcohol, the lines blurred between “special” and “normal day.” I was an expert at justifying and turning a normal day into a reason to make it special (i.e. to drink). 

But, alas, as with every other day of the year, I stuck with my sparkling water and counted my blessings–sobriety and the bullet that I dodged by giving up alcohol being first and foremost. 

On Friday, Kevin and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary with dinner out. We decided to have dessert at a little bakery down the street after we left the restaurant. Unfortunately, our favorite little bakery was closed already, so we ventured onward to a small, local coffee shop, located right in the middle of town square. 

As we sat in the chilly air with our steaming hot cappuccinos in hand, looking out over the beautifully lit courthouse and gazebo–laughing at how drinking coffee at 8pm isn’t a good idea for us “wild and crazy” folks, I counted my blessings again. 


Kevin has had every reason not to stick around during my not-so-sober days and then, my early days of sobriety were no walk in the park either. I took him for granted and spent too much time quietly seething that he wasn’t being supportive enough (more about that HERE). I feel like I’m in a better place now to ask for what I need, when I need it, and try to give him the support that he needs as well. 

All in all though, it’s been a relatively easy 16 years, I have to say. I can only hope for more of the same for the future. 


Happy 2018!

Christmas Home Tour

Before we get started on my home tour, I wanted to let you in on a huge Black Friday deal from Cook Smarts (meal planning site that I’ve talked about HERE and HERE). Use the code HAPPYCOOKING at www.cooksmarts.com and get 40% off on upgrades and gifts of their weekly mealplan service–the one that I swear by! The sale ends on December 6, 2016, so jump on this and prepare to make meal planning easier, healthier and cheaper for your family in the new year! 


In lieu of a Friday Favorites post today, I thought I’d share photos of our Christmas decor from last year. (Yes, 2015–lest you think that I already have my house decorated for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving). 

Two things: My photography isn’t at all where I’d like to it be. This is something that I’m working on. Also, these photos are from last year and I’m planning to change things up a little bit this year (spoiler alert: VINTAGE Christmas decor!), so stay tuned as things develop. In the meantime, enjoy our 2015 Christmas Home Tour and please link to your own in the comments below. 


Our front door…come on it! That door decal was one of my favorite decor items last year. Details on where I purchased and what I purchased for this year coming very soon!


Our entryway. I loved that skinny, scrappy little tree in the entryway. A sale-find from Hobby Lobby. I also bought that “J” mat just for Christmas use last year, but ended up using it all year. 


Another view of the entryway from the stairs. See those white deer on the red table? I scored those for 75% off a few days after Christmas, 2014. I came home with them, so proud, and left the bag on the kitchen counter, then immediately went out to run more errands. The dog decided that there must’ve been something totally delicious and eatable in the bag they were in and grabbed the bag off the counter and dropped my precious, discount deer on the kitchen floor. I came home to glittery deer parts all over my kitchen. I might’ve cried. I hot glued them back together (while cussing the dog) and now they’re super-wonky and awkward-looking, but I don’t care. I still love them. 


The decal on the mirror was another favorite item from last year. It was a bitch to apply, but it I loved the way that it looked and it was the most-commented on item at our family Christmas party. 

Mirror Decal

Our tree, lit up on Christmas Eve, before the “Big Man” made his delivery.  The deer pillows are a favorite of mine (Target) and will play a role in my decor this year too. I also love our German Christmas Pyramid (located on black table behind the tree). We bought it at Wurstfest last year. 

German Christmas Pyramid

Similar German Christmas Pyramid


This is the area right outside our guest bedroom. I had ball decorating the black shelf. The crocheted pink stocking, hanging from the hook, was made by my husband’s late grandmother. Kevin’s mother gave it to us, the Christmas right before Anna was born, when we knew that Anna was going to be a girl. It’s very special to me and I love that I’ve found a way to display it. 

Guest room

Our guest room, all dressed and ready for holiday guests. I love making our guest room comfortable for guests…it’s one of my love languages. Look for a post soon on how to make your overnight guests feel welcome in your home. 


Our dining room. Several years ago, I bought a few Department 56 pieces, used from a neighbor. I’ve since started a little collection. Kevin gave me the Griswold House (Christmas Vacation) last year for my birthday and I love it. This Christmas village is my kids’ favorite part of our Christmas decor. We typically put it out together the weekend before Thanksgiving, so that we can devote a fair amount of time to tweaking it and getting it just right before we’re inundated with the rest of the Christmas decor. 

xmas village

I hope you enjoyed seeing how our house was decorated last year! It was a labor of love, indeed! Stay tuned to see what I do this year–some exciting changes are coming! 


Happy 2018!

5 ways to stay sober on Thanksgiving

This is a re-post of a post from a couple of weeks ago…in case this comes in handy for anyone facing their first Thanksgiving without alcohol. 


I stopped drinking right before Thanksgiving 2010. Had I put a little more thought into it, I probably would’ve waited until after all of the holidays were over to stop drinking. But, then there’s Valentine’s Day. Oh, and then St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t forget Easter. Ugh, then Memorial Day…you see what happens?

My point is: It never seems like a “good time” to stop drinking.

The fact that I quit right before the biggest drinking holidays of the year was equal-parts brilliant and totally stupid on my part.

As a result, I spent my first sober Thanksgiving totally “white knuckle-ing it” at my in-laws house that year.

Continue reading “5 ways to stay sober on Thanksgiving”

Happy 2018!

Homemade cranberry sauce


Confession time: I grew up eating canned cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. Given my proper, Southern upbringing, you’d think that canned cranberry sauce would be verboten, but that was all that I knew until my mid-20’s, when I started watching the Food Network and saw how easy it was to make homemade cranberry sauce.

I’ve been making our cranberry sauce for years now and it’s so easy and really makes a huge difference in the flavor of your holiday meal as well as the presentation. See what I mean?

Image courtesy of www.thefrisky.com
Image courtesy of www.thefrisky.com


Here’s my recipe for homemade cranberry sauce. It can be make several days in advance and even frozen, so consider making a double batch and using it for Christmas dinner as well. 

Cranberry Sauce

1 (12 oz) bag of fresh cranberries

¼ cup of orange juice

½ cup (or more to taste) of sugar

Cinnamon to taste

(optional ingredients: fresh rosemary, allspice, nutmeg or chipotle–probably not all at the same time, but try a different spice or herb each time you make a batch)

Homemade cranberry sauce

  • In a medium saucepan, combine orange juice, sugar and 3/4 cup water over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Stir in cranberries and bring to a boil (the cranberries will pop open while cooking. This makes the sauce thick and beautiful.). Reduce heat, add cinnamon and any other optional herbs or spices you’d like and let simmer until sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sauce thicken further. Let cool completely before serving. You may also put the cranberry sauce in a food processor or blender to get rid of the chunks.

Cranberry sauce

Consider canning the canned cranberry sauce this year and taking your Thanksgiving feast up a notch! It’s easy, delicious and might become a Thanksgiving tradition, like in my home!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy 2018!

So very thankful tag

Megan and Wendy participated in the “So very thankful” tag and I enjoyed watching their video on YouTube, so I’m going to participate too. 

Image courtesy of http://www.meganandwendy.com/


1. Name a color you are thankful for. Turquoise. Always turquoise–especially this time of the year because I love seeing turquoise accents, amid the red for Christmas.
2. Something your spouse does that you are thankful for. Kevin plans and cooks dinner every Thursday. It’s so nice to have one night of the week where I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner. 
3. Something your kids do that you are thankful for. Anna’s superpower is exceptional manners, so, while I still remind her to use her best manners everyday, I really don’t HAVE to. Jack is such a hard worker. When he sets his sights on a goal, he’s driven like none other. 
4. A food you are thankful for. I love my recipe for cornbread dressing that is a hybrid of both of my grandmother’s famous recipes. It tastes like my childhood and home. 
5. What recent good news are you thankful for? This one is tricky right now, but I’m going cop-out and say that I’m thankful for the news that it’s finally going to get cold here this week? Sorrynotsorry. 
6. Name a drink you are thankful for. Coffee. Err day. 
7. Name a restaurant you are thankful for. Panera Bread. My kids have finally discovered Panera Bread so now, they’ll willingly choose it over other fast food and I can finally eat something healthy when we go out to eat.
8. Talk about an animal you are thankful for. How much time do you have? I’m very thankful for the opportunity to foster a mama cat (Jacobien–“Bean” for short) and her 4 babies (Booger, Tux, Bandit and Pinto) for our local no-kill animal shelter. It’s so rewarding to know that we’re able to give these sweet kitties a new beginning and a safe, warm home to live in for a few weeks.
9. Name a beauty product you are thankful for. I’m enjoying all of my Rodan+Fields products right now. I drank the R+F koolaid hard, y’all. 
10. Name a cleaning product you are thankful for. My homemade granite cleaner (recipe HERE)
11. What social media platform are you thankful for? Instagram. I love Instagram and I’ve purposely kept my personal account locked down, so only my nearest and dearest get to see what I post–unlike Facebook that is too big and wide right now. 
12. Tell us why you are thankful for the last person who texted you. My dearest friend, Erika. She gets me like no one else (and somehow loves me in spite of it).
13. Name a candy you are thankful for. Sour Patch Kids. I’ll rub the roof of my mouth raw from eating too many then keep going back for more. I can’t quit you, SPK. 
14. Name an app on your phone that you are thankful for. What’s App. That’s how I stay in touch with my close friends from all over the globe. We have almost-daily text chains that range from the philosophical to the ridiculous (and sometimes ridiculously philosophical). Thanks to What’s App, we can stay in touch in almost the same way we did when we all lived in the same city. 
15. What are you looking forward to that you are thankful for? Hosting my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s rehearsal dinner in mid-December. When we bought this house, we knew that it would be great for assuming some of the entertaining burden from my mother-in-law and I really enjoy throwing a good party and planning every little perfect detail–especially for those that I love. Party hosting is my love language. 


This was fun! If you’d like to participate, please link below to your post so that we can see your answers too! 


Happy 2018!

Friday Favorites–Poo-Pourri


Picture this: Next week is Thanksgiving. You might be surrounded by family or friends, in someone’s home—maybe your own! This is one day out of the year where millions of people go off their diets in a big way. Rich mashed potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts…did I mention PIE? There will be a lot of overindulging, to be sure.

What tends to happen after overindulging? That’s right. POOP.

Poo-Pourri “Before you go” Spray

When I worked at the boutique last year, (read more about that HERE) we sold this item called “Poo-Pourri.” Honestly? I thought that was the dumbest, most crass, 3rd world problem-solving item on the planet and I worried that I’d have trouble selling it with a clear conscience.

In case you don’t know: Poo-Pourri is an essential oil spray that you spray into the toilet before you go. It forms an oily barrier on top of the water and it traps all of the stink. No poop scent left behind.


So, I wasn’t a fan until I used it one day. I got suckered into the special Christmas scented Poo-Pourri, aptly titled, “Secret Santa” for our guest bath. When I brought it home, my kids were so excited that they each about gave themselves hemorrhoids, trying to poop on command so that they could try it out. (That would’ve been an embarrassing trip to the pediatrician.)

We also use Poo-Pourri in our master bath. Ahem….let’s just say that it’s saved our marriage. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Consider arriving at Thanksgiving dinner with a little bottle of Poo-Pourri tucked in your purse–just in case. Or, have a bottle within reach in your guest bath to save your guests the embarrassment of fouling up the whole house after dinner.

If my glowing endorsement hasn’t sold you on Poo-Pourri yet, watch this hilarious ad and then tell me that you’re not sold. 

Poo-Pourri makes a fabulous stocking stuffer, gag gift or hostess gift. The packaging is nice and, typically once someone gets over the embarrassment and tries it, they’re hooked. 

Have you used Poo-Pourri?


Happy 2018!

What if dads ran the PTA?


I wasn’t sure what to title this post. “Mom Friends” seemed like the obvious title, because I wanted to really talk about how hard it is to make friends with other moms. But I often fantasize during P.T.A. meetings, surrounded by well-meaning, but super competitive, bored, lonely, ex-sorority president moms, about how different school would be if the dads ran the P.T.A…more on that later.

Here’s something that no one tells you about motherhood: it’s hard to make friends when you are a mom and P.T.A. meetings are the worst place to try and make friends. 

Mom friends

Continue reading “What if dads ran the PTA?”

Happy 2018!

Taco Tuesday No More!

…a weekly meal planning post.


I used to have a pretty rigid, set meal plan each week. Spaghetti, tacos and pizza made regular, weekly appearances on our menu because I have picky eaters to contend with and those 3 meals are a sure-thing. But, this got really old. I got tired of eating the same things over and over again, so recently I took to the internet for some inspo and found Cook Smarts.

I use Cook Smarts weekly meal plan service to help me serve up creative, healthy meals for my super-picky family. Cook Smarts has taken the guess work out of meal planning and I’m saving money at the grocery store to boot! (You can read more about Cook Smarts HERE)

Last week, a stand-out Cook Smarts recipe was the maple-dijon panko salmon with mashed butternut squash and green peas. 

Ingredients for maple-dijon panko salmon
Ingredients for maple-dijon panko salmon


I’ve prepared salmon in a similar way to this in the past with success, so I was pretty sure that this version would work for us as well, but the big surprise was how yummy the mashed butternut squash was.

My crappy photography doesn't do this dish justice
My crappy photography doesn’t do this dish justice


I’m definitely the squash-lover in our family. My husband tolerates it, but I knew that it being mashed would be a HUGE turnoff for him (because he’s a texture dude through and through). He actually enjoyed it though! Yes, it was the consistency of baby food, but it was packed with flavor and paired wonderfully with the salmon and the peas. This felt like the perfect Fall meal–equal parts comfort food and healthy. 

Stay tuned next week to see what meal plan successes (or failures) we’re having. 


Cook Smarts saves you time, money and food waste while also building your confidence in the kitchen with tons of helpful tips, weekend prep suggestions and video tutorials.

Click HERE to get 3 free meal plans to try, risk free!  


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