Friday Favorites

Naptime Diaries Lent Devotional
1. Lent Season
Do you give something up for Lent? I usually do but this year I'm mixing things up and being more mindful with my time.

Every morning, I jump out of bed and immediately check my email and 48485 Facebook notifications. I sit down at my desk and instantly start putting out fires. What tone does that set for my day? Hectic, rushed, overwhelmed.

This is not how I want to start my day.
This is not how I want to live my life.

This lent season I am focusing on nourishing my mind, heart, and body. Today, I started my "early to rise" Lent challenge. 6am wake up time and two hours of quiet, focused ME time. I'm starting off the day with the things that matter most: my lent devotional, personal development, meditation, workout, and a slow breakfast. No social media, no emails, no distractions.

Lent is about giving something up to make room for Jesus. I can't wait to push myself, live boldly, and see how my heart is shaped during this season.  So far, it's been a challenge but an amazing challenge.

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2. Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
I have been raving about this homemade pizza dough all week but honestly I cannot get enough.  It is so simple to make with only 5 ingredients and saves well in the fridge if you prefer to make individual pizzas instead of one large pie.  Recipe found at 100 Days of Real Food.

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3. Black and Blue VS White and Gold
The debate over the color of this dress totally had me melting down last night.  I saw it (black and blue, 100%), thought everyone was crazy and asked Rob what he saw.....white and gold, 100%.  We analyzed the picture and kept trying to convince the other of our side.  It is really freaky to see something and be told you're wrong.  Creepiest part?  I'm scrolling through my newsfeed an hour later and I see the dress....clear as day WHITE AND GOLD.  Now I'm totally convinced I'm losing my mind!  What do you see?

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4. Passion
It's been a busy week of dream chasing for our team!  Lots of work and lots of big goals being hit.  Everyday I feel blessed to have a job that I love waking up to, that sets a fire burning in my soul, and that allows me the freedom to work my schedule around Rob's crazy flight schedule.

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5.  #Selfless Selfie
This is something so near and dear to my heart that I don't even know where to start except to ask you to please be a part of it.  AJ Slye was a neighbor, a family friend, a student at the school where I taught, and the son of my mentor teacher.  He was one of those kids that everyone liked, and no one could say a negative thing about.  He graduated and went on to Salisbury University in Maryland to play football.  When he came home over winter break, he felt some weird aches and pains but being a healthy college athlete, didn't think much of it.  A trip to the doctors however brought the most devastating news--AJ had Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a rare blood cancer, and was immediately sent to the UVA medical center.  (You can read his full story here)  After a brave and heroic 14 month long fight, AJ's battle with cancer ended on February 27th at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

AJ's spirit lives on in the legacy he leaves behind.  Today, his family is asking you to honor AJ by performing a selfless act, a random act of kindness, and sharing a picture of yourself holding up a piece of paper that says "I honored AJ Slye by...." and tag 3 others in the post using the hashtags #slyestrong6 #SelflessSelfie @slystrong6foundation @slyestrong6.  No act is too small!  If this cause wasn't so important to my heart I would never ask, but will you join me in honoring AJ today?

Linking up here 

Farm Fresh in Meridian, Mississippi?!

We may not have a Whole Foods, a Fresh Market, or even a Target in Meridian but every other week we do have access to farm fresh eggs, local grass fed meat, and dairy directly from the farm.  Beaverdam Farms, a farm just North of Starkville, offers a private buying club where they deliver pre-ordered products straight from the farm to a host house in Meridian.  You simply place your order online, and then pick it up during the designated Saturday time slot.  The cost of the club is FREE, you just pay for what you purchase.

I heard about Beaverdam Farms from a sweet fellow wife in Rob's squadron.  I excitedly got on their mailing list and placed our first order.  Not sure what to expect (the menu of offerings is huge!), we started small with just bacon and breakfast sausage.  On Saturday, we headed over to the pick up point and were surprised to see Dustin and Ali there for the pick up.  Knowing where your food comes from AND getting the chance to meet and talk with the farmers?!  This was a dream come true and something I was not expecting to find in Meridian.  Pick up was super easy (cash or check and bring your own bags), Dustin and Ali were both super friendly and helpful, and we were excited to see that they bring extras that you can purchase.  We grabbed a dozen eggs in addition to our breakfast meats and were quickly on our way.
Beaverdam Farms Buying Club Meridian MS
Sunday, we made brunch using the eggs and bacon and oh my goodness!  Nothing compares to farm fresh eggs and REAL bacon!  I cannot wait until the next pickup date and know that this will be a bi-weekly treat for us.  Needless to say, our next order will be a little bigger than this one.  After watching the documentary Food, Inc (highly recommend!), it is so refreshing to know exactly what we are putting in our bodies, as well as supporting local farmers in Mississippi.  Is the food more expensive than that at Winn Dixie or Sam's Club?  Of course, but like they say "Pay the Farmer or Pay the Doctor"
Healthy Food Options at NAS Meridian
Get on the Meridian mailing list here
(Obviously, this is not a sponsored post :) Just wanted to share a resource that we found and love in Meridian!)

Molly's Shower and Bachelorette Party in Avalon

Getting a weekend recap written on Sunday to post on Monday is proving to be impossible.  I guess that just means I am taking full advantage of every weekend minute ;)  This weekend was a packed one, and left me feeling so lucky and blessed with amazing friendships.
Friday I flew to Philly and Molly picked me up from the airport.  We grabbed a drink at a cute spot near her work before picking up Anna from the train station and heading to Avalon.  It was awesome to catch up with both of them in the car.  It has been over a year since we have all three been together at the same time!  We rented a big beach house for the weekend so we met up with some of the other girls there, ordered pizza, drank wine, and spent the night catching up.  (Yes, we are officially old but I love it!)
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Saturday afternoon was Molly's bridal shower at the Avalon Golf Club.  When she left to get her hair blown out, it was game on for me.  I was in charge of decorations and since I knew I was flying into town, I had figure out a way to get all of the decorations without being smashed.  I made all of the tissue paper puffs at home but left them folded up and kept all of the cut outs off the sticks.  A little hot glue and a ton of puffing later, the decorations were ready to go.  The shower turned out beautiful and everyone had a great time.  I got tasked with making the bow bouquet and although I've never made one before, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out :)
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After the shower, we headed back to the house to get ready for her bachelorette party that night.  Drinking wine, swapping clothes and sharing stories while getting ready felt like we were all back in the Tri Delta house.  (11 of us lived in the house together one or both years!)  We rented "the jitney" party bus for the night and had the sweetest driver ever.  He even decorated the inside of the bus for us!  We went to Congress Hall in Cape May and ended the night at Circle Tavern in Avalon.  I think we might have ruined a few people's date night with our singing and song requests (it was Valentine's Day) but we had a blast!  The only downside?  The temperature was 6 feels like -15 degrees and there was snow!  This southern girl was not used to weather like that ;)
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Sunday morning we had coffee and bagels from Avalon Coffee and re-hashed the night before my flight back to Mississippi.  It was so nice to be able to spend time with everyone and I can't wait until May to celebrate again at Molly's wedding!

Galentine's Day Party + First Winging Party

Last week was jam-packed with fun events!  It was one of those weeks that proves how lucky we are to live in this tiny town with such wonderful people. Tuesday night was a VT-7 Valentine's Day social.  All the husbands had been given surveys at work to fill out secretly with questions about their wife/relationship.  At the social, the girls were given the same survey and had to fill it out guessing how their husband's answered the questions.  Some of the funny answers were read out and then we were given our husband's sheets to compare.  So many funny answers and it was awesome to see how similar (and simple!) the guys are.
NAS Meridian VT-7 Flight School
Wednesday night, I hosted a Galentine's Day themed Wine Wednesday at my house.  (Any Parks and Rec fans?!)  It was so nice to get together for some wine + girl time.  I made mini chicken and waffles, funfetti dip, strawberry rhubarb puff pastry, rolo pretzels, and chocolate cherry cookies.
Galentine's Day Party
Strawberry Rhubarb Puff Pastry
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Chicken and Waffle Minis
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Thursday was exciting because it was officially the first winging of people we are friends with in Meridian.  So it begins!  (Winging is when you finish with flight school and officially get your wings and become a pilot)  The winging party was held in a hangar at the Meridian airport, which I thought was an awesome location.  The only downside? No heat!  The party was so much fun and it was so exciting thinking that this will be Rob not too long from now!  Rob was actually scheduled as duty driver so I went along with him on his drives and we drove home not one but THREE Hokies!  Such a small world :)  We got home around 2am and I had to wake up at 5am for my flight to Philly but it was totally worth it!
Meridian Winging Party

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

In honor of Fat Tuesday, I am finally getting around to recapping our weekend in New Orleans for some Mardi Gras parades during the Carnival season!  Midweek, I got the crazy idea that we had to get to New Orleans and soak in all of the Mardi Gras craziness while we were living down South.  I feel like it's a bucket list "must do".  I thought for sure all hotels would be sold out but we lucked into a room at our favorite NOLA hotel, The Roosevelt and made plans to head down for Saturday and Sunday, pending Rob's schedule.
New Orleans Road Trip from Meridian
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We slept in on Saturday and drove down to New Orleans (about a three hour drive from Meridian).  We checked into the hotel and headed to grab a late lunch at Antoine's.  We had a ridiculous feast of oysters, steak, andouille sausage stuffed pork, bread pudding, and of course, a few rounds of 25 cent martinis.  The food was all amazing and this will definitely be our new lunch tradition when we are in town.  The weather was gorgeous so we walked around the French Quarter and shopped all afternoon.  We grabbed beignets from Cafe Du Monde and headed to watch a few parades (the parades are pretty much constant the two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras!)  The people watching during Mardi Gras is fabulous! haha It was so interesting to see the differences between the parades in New Orleans vs other parades, like in Pensacola.  I was not expecting all of the floats to have masked men throwing was a little creepy!  Standing towards the end of the parade is definitely the best way to get lots of throws.  We grabbed a nightcap at the Sazarac Bar before heading off to bed.
Lunch at Antoine's
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
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Sunday morning we woke up and had brunch at The Ruby Slipper.  I heard great things about the brunch but honestly didn't have that amazing of an experience.  The food was good (specifically the bacon!) but we were seated at the bar, the service was painfully slow, and our waitress (the bartender) didn't seem interested in us at all.  After brunch, we did a little more shopping and then headed to Bourbon Street to watch a few more parades.  We grabbed a bottle of champagne and a king cake from Rouse's Market to enjoy on the sidewalk during the parade.  It was so much fun to just relax in the sun and soak up the Mardi Gras fun before heading home.
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Have you ever been to New Orleans during Carnival season?  (I learned that Mardi Gras is simply the name for Fat Tuesday, the whole season is actually called Carnival!)

Blueberry BBQ Paleo Chicken Wings

When I think of watching the Super Bowl, I think of one thing....FOOD!  More specifically, chicken wings.  I knew that we were going to be indulging in several dips and sweets, so I wanted to at least try to lighten up some of the dishes, without missing out on any of the flavor.
Paleo Blueberry BBQ Chicken Wings | Reddy Or Knot
These chicken wings do not disappoint.  Baked, not fried, these wings won't leave you in a food coma.  And the paleo blueberry BBQ sauce is delicious, without all the added junk in your normal bottled sauce.
21 Day Fix approved Blueberry BBQ Chicken Wings | Reddy Or Knot
Blueberry BBQ Paleo Chicken Wings
Inspired by: The Paleo Kitchen
3 lbs Fresh Chicken Wings
1/2 TBSP Coconut Oil
1/2 Onion, diced
1 1/2 TBSP Mustard
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Cup Chicken Broth, low sodium
1/4 Cup Honey
1 6oz Can Tomato Paste
12oz Blueberries

Pre-heat oven to 375.
Separate chicken wings -- this video is super helpful if you aren't sure how.
Line a baking sheet with tin foil, spray with cooking spray, and add chicken wings in one layer.
Season chicken wings with salt and pepper and bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes, carefully flipping once while cooking.
Meanwhile, melt coconut oil in a medium pot and saute onions until translucent (about 8 minutes)
Stir in mustard, vinegar, cinnamon, and salt.
Add lemon juice, chicken broth, honey, and tomato paste and stir together until smooth.
Add blueberries and remove from heat.
Pour into blender and blend until smooth.
Put sauce back over medium low heat, cover slightly with lid (it splatters!) and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove chicken wings from oven and toss with BBQ sauce.
Place back in the oven and bake at 375 for for 6-8 minutes.

husband approved 21 day fix meals
Husband tested and approved ;)

Seafood from a Gas Station and other Mississippi things

This weekend crossed quite a few things off of our Meridian Bucket List.  Ever since we moved here, we have been talking about going to Rudders, the little bar on base, less than a mile from our house.  We constantly joke about being regulars there and finally this weekend it happened.  Although it was much bigger (and more crowded!) than I was expecting, it was a fun time and I think we will definitely be back.  The drink prices are cheaper than happy hour in a college town but it does close at midnight so don't show up too late!
Rudders at NAS Meridian
Things to do on NAS Meridian
Kyleigh and I had to do some shopping on Saturday so we grabbed lunch at Sake Sushi and knocked out some errands.  Of course, we couldn't resist getting fro-yo before heading back to base.  When I got home, Rob was starving and I had to get groceries from Sam's Club so we made the trip back to town.  Being the researcher that I am, I had seen a bunch of mentions of these amazing seafood po-boys from a place in a gas station.  I'm not a po-boy fan so I thought this would be the perfect time for Rob to try it.  The place is called Seafood Express and it is, in fact, in a gas station.  Not only a gas station, but a super sketchy gas station with bars on all of the windows and doors.  When we walked inside there were close to 15 people waiting for their food so we knew we were in the right spot!  We checked out the HUGE menu and Rob placed his order.  While we were waiting, we realized there is a call ahead number and that is definitely the way to go!  Rob got hush puppies and the 8 inch shrimp po-boy and everything was made to order and delicious!  Definitely a random location but worth it.
Seafood Express Po-Boy Meridian, MS
On Sunday, I went to a baby shower for a fellow wife, Danielle, at Blair's house.  It was fun and I even won a prize for one of the games!  Afterwards, we came home and had drinks, made guacamole, blueberry bbq wings, and some sweet treats for the Super Bowl.  I was hoping for the Seahawks to win but at least it was a pretty good game.
Flight School Baby Shower
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airplane baby shower ideas

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