Engagement Party, aka The Games Begin

When Craig proposed to me this past Christmas Eve, I was elated. Not only was I about to spend the right of my life with the most perfect man ever for me, my Type-A personality was ready to shine: I feel like I’ve been prepping for planning a major event like a wedding since I was a little girl.

Never one to shy away from hosting anything (from intimate dinners to lavish themed parties), planning a wedding seems like a stressful, beautiful time. As someone who has gotten a bit of an adrenaline high from stress since she was little (I always secretly loved having multiple deadlines), I can’t help but smile when I say “I can’t believe I have so much to plan!”, because I am actually quite excited.

The first event for wedding business seems natural enough–the engagement party. I was excited to share the good news of our engagement with our loved ones (not like I hadn’t text them within 24 hours of Craig proposing or anything…), but was a little nervous about how to get a party going while working full-time and being a busy bee in general. Luckily, I have an amazing family team behind me, so my parents and sister took on the bulk of the planning and executing. I was able to pipe in with some hopes and expectations, but for the most part they took charge and it was AWESOME.

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to be so bold.

“I did something kind of weird,” I confessed to one of my best friends in a drunken haze. I was visiting her in our sleepy college town–a place where we had found soulmates in friendships, but not in boys.

“What?” she replied, politely listening while trying to fight off sleep (I’m notorious for chatting all night while people are trying to go to bed).

“I told the universe I was ready for the big love. The man I’m going to marry,” I said with a dumb, inebriated smile on my face.

“Do you think it will really happen, though? Like, this soon?” she asked. A valid question.

“I really do.”

Fast forward a couple short weeks, and that’s when I met him–Craig.

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Man, honestly? It’s hard to remember the first time.

I remember the first time I outwardly thought I was fat.

I was putting on a favorite dress of mine–a little worn, probably a little old. I may had outgrown it a bit since I was growing quickly. I was 5 and my mom was helping me get dressed when I asked her, point-blank:

“Mom, am I fat?”

I remember the look of surprise on her face. Here was this tiny creature, dressed sweetly in a 101 Dalmatians dress and bare feet, asking one of the most loaded questions possible. Her surprised face became a furrowed brow. “No, you’re perfect just the way you are,” she told me, as stern as I’d ever seen her. “I think I like the way I am,” I remember telling her. And with that, I demanded my photo be taken in my favorite dress.

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Not me in the aforementioned dress, but looking cool as hell with Jasmine. Unabashedly baring my belly!

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Tip-Toe Into Keto: Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Anyone that knows me knows that I love me some chicken wings. They’re kind of my thing.

Asheville Wing War 2014, just lovin’ life

So with this new eating lifestyle, I was wondering how I could get my wing fix without compromising too many carbs. Luckily, buffalo sauce has like, 2 carbs per tablespoon and chicken is Keto as hell! So, we enjoyed these meatballs last night.

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Tip Toe Into Keto: Zoodles to the Rescue!

Almost every Sunday Craig and I spend the mornings talking. One of us brews up a big pot of coffee, and we laze around and simply chat. Sometimes we talk about current events (both in the world and with our friends), we might discuss the book we’re reading or recap a show we just watched. We talk about our plans for the day, the week, the month, or when we’re 60 (we already have our retirement plan figured out, you guys. I’m going to be a realtor and Craig is going to work part-time at the Home Depot). And this past Sunday, we gabbed about one of our favorite topics: FOOD.

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Fall Has the Best Foods: Chorizo Chili, Y’all

I haven’t posted a recipe in awhile, and this one was too good to pass up. As any of you are probably well aware, my Crockpot & I are good buds. I turn to my Crockpot when I want something delicious, homemade, and requires me to pay no attention at all. Lots of Crockpot recipes require pre-made ingredients, but I’ve been fortunate enough to find recipes that can be quickly adapted so that I can make some ingredients by scratch.

Chili is probably one of my most favorite things to cook in a crockpot, because the smell is so gratifying throughout the day. To complement smell with health, I made this turkey-based chili last night. And as Leslie Knope would think, it was so good…it was pretty sexy.

Get it, ladies.

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My body, my friend.

Dear Body,

Hey girl hey. I’m writing you because I know you and I have had some times together–good times, bad times, and everything in-between. There have been times I’ve filled you with delicious things to eat, kind words, and celebrations of strength. There have been moments of anger towards you…frustration, guilt. Occurences where the very thought of you made me want to give up. Periods of my life where you were this detached version of who I was–it was you versus me.

I’m here to say a few things.

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An ode to Tricia Cooke

I had been settled into my freshman year of college for an entire semester, so I was obviously the World’s Smartest and Most Well-Adjusted Human. I was probably a pretty typical freshman girl at a liberal arts college–not super focused on academics, really into partying and making friends, growing increasingly aware that this whole college experience was not going to last forever. In an attempt to grow stronger within the campus community, I auditioned and accepted a part to be in Appalachian State University’s 2007 production of “The Vagina Monologues”. It was a tiny part–I was a member of a “chorus” that would interject periodically throughout the show with quips of humor and insight. The chorus was composed of a pretty big number of girls, including one in particular. But I’ll get to her in a minute.

We had a couple of rehearsals, maybe even just one. I was walking somewhere within our palace of a dorm, when I ran into a girl no taller than me. Big brown eyes and freckles that could rival mine, she smiled her legendary megawatt smile and said “Hi! I’m Tricia! You’re Michelle, right?”.

Ya know, I don’t really believe in love at first sight. Except for this instance.

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True Life: I’m An Almost-30 Something That Unironically Loves Taylor Swift

I wrote one of my final papers in college about how Taylor Swift was detrimental to the feminist movement and a negative influence on young girls.

I was adamant in my writings that her lyrics perpetuated dated female stereotypes, created an unhealthy competition between women for male attention, and–most importantly–she determined her self-worth based on her attachment to a man, rather than from within and based on her own talents and contributions as a decent human.

For years, I rolled my eyes when she came on the radio, and I proudly wrote snarky Facebook statuses proclaiming my distaste. I applauded my famous heroes, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, for burning her at the Golden Globes and snarled when I heard Swift’s infamous response. I howled with disdain when she insisted that she was not a feminist. I joined the chorus of “WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING BESIDES YOUR RELATIONSHIPS, TAYLOR SWIFT” that filled my favorite feminist blogs and friendship conversations.

Then, something shifted.

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lessons.

I had a discussion with a good friend of mine recently that there are some things I wish were actually told in college, or high school, or whenever. Yes, academics are important and awesome, but there are just things I wish someone had shown me or told me about before they happened. To save you all some grief, I’ve typed out some of the things in my life that have happened I’ve been analyzing, and wish someone had explained to me in a text book earlier.

  • All relationships take work, not just the one with the person you’re in love with. Friendship takes effort, too.
  • You’re going to grow separately from people you have spend a considerable amount of time growing alongside, and that’s ok. If you keep lines of communication open, this will help.
  • Be available when you can, but don’t be afraid to say “I can’t”. If doing something will make you unhappy, you don’t have to do it.
  • Know your limits, and when it’s time to walk away. This goes for everything: friendships, jobs, and too much pizza.
  • If you’re a lady, don’t be afraid to be intimidating. Use your voice and be loud if you want. Use your brain and don’t apologize for it. If you’re a dude, be cool with ladies being intimidating, and support them when you agree.
  • People will always try to knock you down for wanting to be more than what they are.
  • Random acts of kindness go farther than you could ever initially believe.
  • Be an ally.
  • Remember to celebrate everyone’s successes, no matter how unrelated to your success it may be. We all have different goals and dreams, and just because it’s different than yours, it doesn’t mean it’s less than.
  • Never, ever let a boss tell you you’ll never do better than a job with them. It’s degrading, and you can do better. Promise.
  • Traveling the world doesn’t define an open-minded person. You can be just as close-minded after seeing the world as someone who has never stepped out of their hometown.
  • Live music is great, but sitting down at a concert is THE BOMB.
  • Always have a little money saved in case of emergencies, like your health insurance prices going up…or that pair of shoes you have been lusting over going on sale.
  • COOK FOR YOURSELF, DAMMIT. Don’t eat out (too much)! Cook and cook for others all the time.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell someone when they’ve hurt you. I was a doormat for many years of my life. When I stopped being a doormat, people stopped stomping all over me because they stopped visiting, and that’s ok too.
  • Try hard at your job, and ask for help when you need it.
  • Find a partner when you’re ready to ~settle down~ (dumbest term). Not a boyfriend/girlfriend, not a dude/lady to bone. You will have plenty of those. But when it’s ~The One~, you’re going to want a ride-or-die, defend you always, awesome partner that you will have to compromise, be honest, and be deeply in love with.
  • At some point, you’ll stop asking people how old they are, and friendships will bloom regardless of the years between your ages.
  • EXERCISE. I can’t stress it enough. Find some sort of weekly outlet of something you enjoy to do. Your metabolism will slow down and your body won’t be able to enjoy eating half a frozen pizza in one sitting like it used to.
  • You’ll start to bond with friends over something other than getting drunk and going out together (but you’ll still bond over that, too).
  • Hobbies will never stop being important. Get involved in things you’re passionate about and don’t stop.
  • Get your hair cut often and buy clothes that fit well.
  • Invest in things. Invest in good clothes, stock markets, and good people.
  • Celebrate and enjoy community.
  • When in doubt, NPR podcasts cure all ailments.
  • You’re never too old to start or rekindle a passion for doing something you love.
  • You don’t have to like everybody, but if you’re gonna be a jerk, have a solid reason to be one.
  • It’s totally fine to have a weird, loud laugh.
  • Falling in love with yourself is the most important thing you can do.

I love how everyone I know and care about is constantly evolving and learning, growing and exploring. We all figure out things on our own time, and these are things that have taken me years to understand and appreciate. I can’t wait to keep seeing what changes are ahead for all of us, and I hope you’ll share with my the knowledge you’ve gained along the way, too.