Cheesy Ham and Hashbrown Casserole

Hi! For the most part I really do try to stick with eating lower carb so if that’s what you are looking for today, this is not the place for you. I like to call this recipe: I had a ham in the deep freeze so I cooked it in the crockpot and then had no idea what to do with it.

After we had a meal of ham and potatoes and salad, and ham and swiss sliders, I decided I’d use some more of it in a casserole! I found this recipe from https://www.cocoandash.com/cheesy-ham-hashbrowns/ and tweaked it just a tiny bit to make it work with what we had. Everyone here really liked it, so we will definitely try it again.

Ingredients:

  1. Leftover cooked ham. About 1/5 cups, cut into cubes
  2. 1 cup sour cream
  3. I can cream of potato soup
  4. 1/4 cup butter, melted
  5. 30 ounce bag of frozen hashbrowns
  6. 1/3 cup diced onion
  7. 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  8. 1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the two types of cheese and then reserve 1 cup of it for the topping. Set it aside for later. Note: You will mix everything else together in a very large bowl. When I did this I found that even my biggest bowl wasn’t big enough. I would add hashbrowns just a little at a time, and then I used a bowl with a lid so I could put the lid on and shake it all together.

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray and then dump the contents of the bowl into the dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cook for one hour. So good and easy and a great way to use up leftover ham!

What are your favorite recipes to use up ham leftovers?

Fyre Festival Netflix Documentary- My thoughts

Ok, I just finished watching the documentary about the Fyre Festival on Netflix. It was called the greatest party that never happened. If you haven’t watched it, I highly encourage you to. Because OMG, how does this happen?

The Fyre Festival was headed by Ja Rule and Billy McFarland and it was promised to be this amazing luxury music festival in the Bahamas. What happened was the concert goers ended up sleeping in tents on wet mattresses and they apparently had no food or water. (At least according to the documentary.) They were literally stranded on an island. And there was no actual concert. Stranded in the Bahamas doesn’t sound too bad, but I do enjoy food and water so that would have pissed me off. And you know, the amount of money that these people paid to go to the festival was insanely high.

First off, how in the hell did I not hear about this? 2017 was not that long ago and I was definitely not living under a rock. While I was watching the show I was scrolling through Instagram trying to see posts from the festival, but sadly I mostly just saw about a zillion memes. I guess it was all over Twitter, but I’m not much of a Twitter girl. I still don’t understand how I missed all of this living in the social media world that we live in right now.

Secondly, one of the headlining acts was Blink 182. Now, I loved Blink 182 when I was in high school, but that was a long time ago. I’m kinda thinking I wouldn’t even pay $70 a ticket to go see them at a local casino concert venue. Much less thousands of dollars to see them perform? Which is fine, because they didn’t go through with it anyway obviously. But, do they still, like, make music?

I went and saw Smashmouth in concert a few years ago and I pretty much think of these two bands on the same level. And that Smashmouth concert was freaking horrible. I think I paid $22 for that ticket and they didn’t even check to make sure I had a ticket when I walked in the door. I could have literally gone for free.

Also, I understand that a lot of people don’t feel for the festival goers that spent money to go to the festival because they obviously had the money to spend. Listen, just because you have money doesn’t mean it came easily. No, I’m not rich but I know that working for money is freaking hard. I get pissed off when I pay $15 for a meal and it isn’t the best meal of my entire life so I would have been livid over this ordeal. I totally feel for those people that thought they were getting the experience of the lifetime.

More than anything I feel for the woman that got stuck footing the bill to her employees after Fyre left the island without paying anything. She ended up digging money out of her life savings to pay her people. Saving money is hard! It takes discipline and then if you are anything like me, you are dreaming about what you will do with that money later. Even if its just used for an emergency fund, it’s not fair to have to pull out that money to pay for a mistake that wasn’t yours. That was your money in case your water heater floods your house! I did see that she started a go fund me account and was able to raise the money to pay for the vendor bills and to put money back in her savings account. Still unfair and still should have never happened.

I spent some time on Ja Rules Instagram page reading his posts. He actually posted an apology to that sweet woman, and when someone said “Why don’t you pay her back the money she spent?” He replied that she already raised it all through Go Fund Me. I 1000% wanted to throw up because it should have never came to this in the first place. She should not have been put in that position and that money should have been offered to her by Ja Rule long before this documentary came out.

Ok, enough ranting. Here are the valuable lessons I took away from this documentary.

  1. Never go to a music festival during its first year. Ever. No matter how much money you have to spend. It’s not a good idea. Sit back and say: “Yes, maybe we will go next year. Let’s give them a year to work out all the kinks.” Like you know, food, space, sleeping arrangements, water, and actual musical performances.
  2. I want to go to the Bahamas real bad. Like so bad its almost an obsession. But not to a music festival. And I’ll make my own hotel reservations thank you very much. Actually, I’m really thinking the Bahamas would be amazing to cruise to. But, that’ll be a few years from now at least. That water looks absolutely majestic.
  3. If someone is ordering ANYTHING from you, you need to collect payment up front. (Ok, I actually learned this lesson when I ran my business and didn’t follow through with it so I ended up losing a lot of money that way.)
  4. FOMO is for real. (Fear of missing out) All of these people paid insane amounts of money to go a festival that was promising big things with no real way of proving what they would deliver. It’s really ok to not be the one that does everything. It’s ok to sit at home and not spend zillions of dollars to be a cool kid.
  5. Don’t make yourself go broke so you can impress people on social media. It’s not worth it and they probably aren’t that impressed with you anyway.

Have you watched the documentary? What did you think of it? And more importantly, is this the first time you heard about this? Or was I legit living under a rock?

Anniversary Road Trip: Day 3 Savannah, Georgia

Oh Savannah, I love you so. Your Spanish moss covered trees draping over the streets and sidewalks draw me in. And your laws allows you to carry alcohol on city streets makes me love you even more.

We were just about our of Florida when we stopped at rest stop when I got to really see Spanish Moss covered trees up close. I’ve always thought they were pretty, but seeing it in person took my breath away. Justin joked that I like them because they are depressing and droopy looking. I’m not going to argue with him because he really might be on to something. Eyeore is my spirit animal some days, after all. I just love those trees so much! It made me want to drive home and grab the kids and race back to Georgia to have family pictures done. All I can picture is the five of us standing in the street, hands intertwined, under a canopy of Spanish Moss.

We pulled into Savannah around 3:30 pm, and headed straight our hotel. Holiday Inn Express in the historic district. This  was perfect because my email said that check in was at 3:00. I ran inside to check us in and was told our room wasn’t ready yet and check in wasn’t actually until 4. Ok, Weird but whatever. It’s only 30 minutes so we paid for parking and lugged out bags inside to wait. We met up with some friends in Savannah and they were already checked in, so at 4 when our room still wasn’t ready we threw our things in their room and headed to River Street.

Our first stop was Wet Willies, because why wouldn’t I need to stop and get an alcoholic slushie? Since I was in Georgia I decided it would only make sense for me to get a “Peaches and Cream” daiquiri.

49205912_10215883452951319_9206169468768616448_nIt was so good and the perfect way for me to get my obligatory peach consumption. We walked around a little bit downtown before heading back to the hotel to see if our room was ready yet. It was 5:00 and we never got a call that it was ready.

Luckily it was ready. I had been in the car all day and all I wanted to do was change clothes and straighten my hair.

Interesting fact! Even if you minivan has an outlet don’t be surprised if it isn’t powerful enough to power your hair straightener. Don’t ask me how I know that, but I definitely found that out during this leg of the trip. (I got a little bored in the car.)

After we changed we walked downtown for dinner and then to make the rounds through the nightlife. We had dinner at Wild Wing Café. I had the Colorado Copper boneless wings. They were good but really a bit too spicy for me.

After dinner we walked around downtown ducking in and out of stores and bars. Savannah at night is a little crazy. There were people so many bars. They closed off a street downtown by the wing place and there was live music and dancing in the street. So very cool and something that happens there all the time. I really think everyone should experience Savannah at least once.

Also, while you are there make sure you stop and get some ice cream at Leopold’s. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we stood in line for 40 minutes for ice cream at 10:30 at night. I’m also not exaggerating when I say that I have zero regrets about this. The ice cream was delicious and the little ice cream shop was so adorable. While we were standing in line a bride, groom and bridal party came rushing out of the restaurant and hopped onto a bike trailer. We’re pretty sure they had their wedding inside the ice cream shop. I mean, why not?

We walked around a little bit more before heading back to the hotel for the night. While our hotel was a pain to get into (And parking was $22) it was in the perfect location. I probably wouldn’t stay in the same hotel again, but I would definitely find another downtown hotel. There are plenty to choose from!

The next morning, Justin and I got up early, grabbed coffee and went out for a walk around River Street. Savannah at night is fun but Savannah early in the morning is gorgeous.

I couldn’t get enough of walking around the city streets.

Walking around Savannah in the rain with our coffee just felt natural and calm. And it almost made me wish I was a runner because those were the only other people out and about.

All in all, I really liked Savannah. I wouldn’t have minded staying a little longer but I was also DYING to get to Tybee Island, which was only a 20 minute drive away. I’m so thankful that our amazing friends met us there. I don’t think it would have been nearly as much fun without them. Stayed tuned! I’ll post my Tybee Island recap soon!

10 Year Facebook challenge- What I see

Ok, I know that this challenge is basically old news because everyone was uploading their photos like 10 days ago, but today this is what’s on my mind so that’s what you get from me. Here are the photos I shared on my personal facebook. My first photo is from 2008 and my second from New Years Eve 2018.

When I look at these photos I don’t see 10 years of aging. I guess I have crows feet around my eyes now, but that’s not what sticks out to me.

When I look at 22 year old me, honestly I’d like to shake the crap out of her. She really had no clue. She wanted so badly to give off a vibe that she was perfect and she had her shit together even though that was so incredibly far from the truth. She wanted to be the perfect mom. The Pinterest mom before Pinterest existed. She wanted to cook all the best foods and make the best crafts and throw the best parties and look put together all the time. This was all that mattered to her. She was more worried about what everyone else thought of her than what she thought of herself.

She didn’t really care that she was in a toxic marriage because she didn’t want to be labeled as someone that had been divorced. She was already labeled as a teenage mom and she didn’t want another label on top of that. She was so worried about how it would look on the outside, because living in a small town is hard. And having people judge you and your choices is hard, but judging yourself is even harder. She gave herself zero grace. She didn’t take care of herself, in fact she would go weeks without drinking water. She didn’t really have many close friends and that’s understandable because I don’t think I’d want to be friends with her either. 

When I look at my most recent picture I can not believe how much I have changed and I am so incredibly proud of myself for that. I’m married to my soulmate and I’m a mother of three incredible kids. I have found that I love to travel and see the world, but also I’m an introvert and love to go a few days at a time without leaving my house. I remembered that enjoy writing. I’ve found my mommy tribe and I am so thankful for them. I have a relationship with God. I had never even cracked open a Bible in that first picture. I love working out and seeing what my body can do. I have realized that I’m not perfect and that’s ok. In fact, I don’t stress over perfection anymore. I am working hard to authentically be myself.  Also can I just say that my hair is so much better dark and I’m glad I discovered eyebrow pencils?

I am so thankful for 30-something me, and  I don’t miss 20- something me at all. I refuse to look at that 10 year old picture and think of how much time has slipped by. I look at it and think about how many lessons I’ve learned and how much better I am because of it. And I think of how much better my life is because of it.

So, when you look back at your 10 year picture try not to focus on your grey hair and wrinkles. Don’t look at the weight you’ve gained. Don’t worry about how much energy you had back then when you are crawling in bed at 9:00 on a Saturday night. Think about what you have learned in the past ten years, the people that you are gained and be thankful for the lessons you’ve learned along the way.

 

 

 

Anniversary Trip: Day 2 Continued Fort Walton Beach, Florida

1ff8f17a-c299-4edf-b82f-754b042c251fWhere we left off from my last post we had just pulled into Fort Walton Beach during our anniversary road trip.

I chose Fort Walton beach because I had heard all about the white sand and turquoise water in the Destin area, but Fort Walton is just a little more affordable than Destin is. I have zero regrets about Fort Walton and absolutely hope to go back to the Emerald Coast one day.

Pulling into town, I immediately fell in love. I love turquoise and peach beach houses. Its just all so calming and nothing at all like we see in the Midwest.  We were in town before it was time to check into our hotel so we ventured towards town for lunch. We grabbed a quick lunch at Popeyes and then strolled through a few stores. We walked about Tuesday Morning and Five Below. Not super exciting but it was nice to be out of the car!

Afterwards we jumped back in the car and went to see if we could check into the hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort on Okaloosa Island and it was absolutely gorgeous. Plus, it was located just a short walk down the beach from the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk , which has plenty of dining and shopping options.

As soon as we checked into our room I threw on my flipflops and we ran out to the beach to play in the rain like any rational grown adult people would do. The hotel has direct beach access. You just walk out the door and around the lazy river (which would be so incredibly fun during the summer) and you are on the beach!

49087128_10215874136358410_5812516049270079488_n
48894102_10215874139438487_2893836298462691328_n
48905054_10215874138358460_842406235373305856_n

We walked down the beach, hunting for seashells (probably my favorite thing about the beach period) and ended up at the boardwalk. We went inside to check it out and bought the kids souvenirs. The older girls requested shirts so we got those and a mermaid doll for the toddler. For future reference, if you think the toddler will be happier with a doll than a shirt you might be wrong. She was devastated that we didn’t get her a shirt. “Where mine???”

My husband is a genius so he snuck a dress out of her closet and put it in a bag and gave it to her. She was instantly happy with her “gift”.

Girls are just a little bit dramatic.

When we were done shopping we walked back to the hotel. How cool is the giant beach ball on the hotel roof?! And we went to the room to hang out for a bit before dinner.

49028237_10215874140758520_5565795930738786304_n

For dinner we went back down to the boardwalk and ate at Rockin’ Tacos. I am not even slightly too shy to admit that this restaurant played a huge part in deciding where to book our hotel. I spent months dreaming out their gator tacos. They did not disappoint me. They were a little spicy, but not too spicy. Just enough of a kick.

 

My margarita, a Rockin Rita, was also incredibly good. The service was fast, the waitress was perfect and the restaurant itself was a lot of fun. I would absolutely go back there. Also, on Wednesday night they shoot off fireworks from the pier and this a great location to get a perfect view!

After dinner went back to the hotel and hung out at the hotel bar. I am a total pain the butt at bars because I don’t really have any signature drink that I tend to go to. I couldn’t even tell you what this was, but it was blue, and I really like Blue Curacao so I went for it. The bar was nice, stocked well and the bartender was friendly!

49243589_10215874143438587_9128530457355354112_n

We hung out down there and talked to a couple that was visiting from Nebraska before we went to bed so we could get on the road nice and early. I loved every single thing about our stay in Fort Walton. Yes, I do wish it hadn’t been rainy, but I still stand by the belief that a rainy day at the beach is still better than any day in Kansas. I really hope to make it back there with the kids sometime and hopefully we can see some blue skies and turquoise water. And I’d love to check out that lazy river too!

Stay tuned for more!

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Social Media is all about Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. I have to say I love seeing my friends decluttering and getting rid of things weighing them down. I just feel like cheering them on!
I read the book a few years ago and started to really implement a lot of things I learned immediately. Now, I will say, I don’t hug my items and tell them thank you because I just can’t, but it has made me really take a look at all the crap I own and decide “Do I really need this? Does it make me happy?” Maybe that’s why its been an ongoing process for me? Anyway, I feel as though if something doesn’t make me happy or serve a purpose it needs to be out of my way.
I was holding on to a lot of clutter out of guilt because someone else gave it to me and it felt wrong to get rid of it. It took me a long time to realize that if people in my life are going to be mad at me for decluttering my house and making it a place where I feel at peace, then I probably don’t need their negativity in my life anyway. And HELLO, anxiety is what causes me to rush to these stupid assumptions because I promise you that no one cares that I didn’t hold on to a sweatshirt that they gave for Christmas in 2001. Seriously, no one cares and I should not be stressing about it.
Once we really started to organize and decorate our house I realized that I want to spend less time cleaning and organizing and more time enjoying my home.
Our house should be a home, not a storage shed.
Now, I still love to have cute décor and things hanging on my walls. In fact, I love my walls cluttered, it makes me happy, therefore bringing me JOY. So there, joy suckers.
But, having things piled in my cabinets and closets that I haven’t touched in three years is seriously a waste of space and it causes me so much stress and lost time because then I feel the need to organize it. This is precious time I could be spending playing with my kids or reading or binge watching Netflix series. But seriously its dumb. Those are clothes that could be sold or donated. Books that I’ll never read again could be passed on to a friend. I’ve gone through the house twice since Thanksgiving and made probably $300 off of stuff that I don’t need. That money went towards things I want (a new to me dining room table for example) and debt (Yes, I do also love Dave Ramsey). 
And don’t get me wrong because I know that this isn’t the way for everyone, I’m just explaining why I love it and how it has helped me. I am finally to the point where I can sit in my living room without being stressed out and I can lay in my bed without feeling like I’m drowning in clutter. I love not feeling stressed out constantly and spending way too much time organizing things I don’t love or need. I have read that clutter makes anxiety worse and I’m here to tell you that this is the case for me for sure. If you are struggling with clutter and just having too much stuff I highly recommend reading the Tidying Up book or watching the Netflix Series!
Have you gotten into the Tidying Up trend yet?

Anniversary Road Trip: Days 1 & 2

8 years ago my husband and I eloped on New Years Eve. (More on that another day) A few years ago we started going on a trip every year to celebrate our anniversary and to just get away from everything. Normally we stay pretty close to home, but last year we were freezing in Branson, Missouri and decided that maybe we should try somewhere warmer the next year.

It wasn’t long into January before I started researching beaches on the East Coast. I’ve always been in love with the East Coast (thanks to all of the Nicholas Sparks books I have read) but I had never been.

By chance, I found Tybee Island Georgia while I was searching Pinterest and Google, and I found that they do a big fireworks display on the beach for New Years Eve. Sounded great to me! So, we booked a hotel for two nights and started our countdown.

We are friends with a couple that live in Florida, so we decided that we needed to see them while we are over that way. Eventually one thing led to another and our drive to Tybee Island became a full fledged road trip.

We started off by leaving Kansas on Thursday morning after my husband got off work and we headed to West Monroe, Louisiana for the night.

Our first roadside stop was in Paris, Texas so we could see the “Eiffel Tower”. This was a fun little stop and it’s also home of the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial. This memorial is gorgeous and such a great little place to stop.
48947249_10215867157943954_551967618966224896_n
48426758_10215867160984030_2328313625271336960_n

48960121_10215867161224036_1822896158939283456_n
49175666_10215867158303963_399105180236251136_nFrom there we continued to West Monroe. The drive to Louisiana from Texas was beautiful. The roads weren’t busy at all, and I just stared at all the beautiful farmhouses and trees. There is something about beautiful white farmhouses with round columns that makes me want to drool.

We arrived in West Monroe around 6:00. If you didn’t know already, the show Duck Dynasty is/was filmed there. We used to watch it a few years ago, but we haven’t watched regular tv in a few years. The Duck Commander Warehouse/Store was closed by the time we got there, but we knew that was going to happen. This wasn’t really a destination, more of a pit stop to sleep for the night. However, I had spent 3 days drooling over the menu at Willie’s Duck Diner and trying to decide what to eat for dinner. So naturally we pulled into the parking lot and there was a sign on the door saying “Closed until further notice”. Apparently they are closed for remodeling, but there was nothing on their Facebook page or website about that! Ugh. Luckily there was a Logan’s Roadhouse in the same parking lot, and I’m always up for steak so we ate there. My electric lemonade was delicious by the way.49010281_10215867163024081_3224860659304890368_n

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in West Monroe. Great hotel. The location felt pretty safe and we had no complaints! We love Holiday Inn Express. I always feel like its a safe bet and at least you can grab breakfast before you head out for the day.

Unless you leave the  hotel at 6 AM…. which we did, but that’s ok because we grabbed some coffee and hit the road. We stopped on the way out of town to snap a picture of the Duck Commander store.

49051416_10215874131278283_290845366989881344_n

From there we worked our way on to Florida. We drove through Mississippi, and Alabama which wasn’t a bad drive. Still not a lot of traffic, but when we got to Mobile, Alabama we took a tunnel under the water and it basically gave me a mini panic attack. Thank God I wasn’t the one driving. I didn’t even know this was a thing! This girl that has been landlocked her entire life was freaking the hell out.
49103400_10215874133718344_3534548833801338880_n
48947278_10215874134198356_766385924119461888_n

We came out the other side and there was the sea. It was foggy and cloudy so the view wasn’t spectacular and I didn’t get any good pictures but I swear that salty air immediately cures all of my anxiety. For someone that’s only been to the beach once, I sure fell in love with the sea hard and fast. In Alabama I finally saw some Palm Trees, so of course I screamed like I was dying and Justin thought we were about to wreck and realized he should have brought duct tape for my mouth on this trip.

48935197_10215874134838372_1820908495319334912_n

It wasn’t too long from there before we were in Fort Walton Beach! I have a lot to say about Fort Walton so that will be in my next post! Stay tuned!

Day 1: Starting New Habits

Today is the 16th of January. Since the third of January I have had “Write for 30 minutes” on my to do list every single day. Since the third of January that task has been left unfinished every single day. Its not that I haven’t wanted to write or like I haven’t been able to find words, but it seems as though every single day more important tasks come up one after another until it’s time to make dinner and get everyone sent to bed.

As long as I can remember, and I’m talking about as far back as kindergarten, I have dreamed of being a writer. An author, a journalist, a freelancer.. just something. I know that the only way to make progress towards that dream is to actually sit down and put words on paper…. er… the laptop screen. So, why is it that for all these years I have managed to put everything else in front of what I want to do?

I have plenty to talk about! I just went on an amazing road trip with my husband. I’ve realized in the past couple of years that traveling gives me life and I want to be able to share my adventures! I’ve read some great books, cooked some fun meals and honestly just survived some interesting adventures in parenting. I’ve set goals for 2019 that I haven’t even put to paper. So today, I am breaking the cycle and making a conscious effort to spend a little bit of time every weekday writing.

It may not be the best writing or the most exciting or the most informative every day but my goal is to quit worrying about being good enough and just making an effort to sit down and do it because that is my version of self care.

I started this new blog at this new address because I feel like I need a fresh start. The name is a little dorky but I am too, so it seems fitting. I hope you’ll follow along and maybe get something useful out of what I have to say.