on the Chopping block

We had another Chopped night this past weekend 🙂 and let me tell you, I think it might have been our most fun and successful one yet! 

In the past, we have only fixed dinner and dessert (we would take turns on this- one time I would make dinner and Josh would make dessert and the next time we would switch). This time, we thought it would be neat to also make an appetizer. But, we would each have to pick two items and then prepare the appetizer together. We were a little worried that we might each pick the same two items, but we settled on me picking a cheese and figured that would have probably been the only food group we would both try to pick. What we should have been more “worried” about is running into each other. Because that happened at least four times and we just laughed and would hurriedly turn into the closest aisle. 

For the appetizer, my picks were cheese curds and fresh Brussels sprouts. Josh’s picks were salami and onion tater tots. 

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What a fun basket and one that actually worked well together! I boiled then fried the Brussels sprouts with some garlic, then fried the salami. Josh baked the tater tots in the oven. When the tots were baked, we threw everything in a cast iron skillet so that the cheese got melty. Right before we ate, we decided to top it all off with some salsa and crema. 

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The basket ingredients Josh chose for me for dinner included thinly sliced NY strip steak, cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic, fresh green beans, and crescent rolls. 

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He may have accidentally forgotten the crescent rolls on the belt at the grocery store. And we may have had to drive back to the store to purchase more. At first glance, I wanted to do something like a Philly cheesesteak, but the cream of mushroom soup kind of threw me. I settled on putting two crescent rolls flat together like a little pastry square. I sauteed the green beans with garlic and onion. Once the veggies were cooked, I poured the cream of mushroom on top. I quickly seared the steak on both sides. I put the steak on the crescent roll square, then topped it with the green bean, cream of mushroom mixture. It definitely wasn’t super appetizing looking, but it was very tasty. 

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For dessert, I chose balsamic vinegar, canned dark sweet cherries, Hershey’s special dark chocolate chips, and zebra cakes. 

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I think I really befuddled Josh at first, but he rallied and made my favorite dish of the night. He is so much more creative than I am- it’s so fun to see. He whipped up a delicious chantilly cream and made dark chocolate covered cherries. He then layered pieces of zebra cake with the chantilly cream, Oreos, sprinkles, and chocolate sauce and topped it with the chocolate covered cherries. Delish!

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service bar

I think I might be a little behind on keeping up with blog stuff…whoops! With Josh starting back at school and adjusting our schedules, I have been kind of out of it lately. Just when we get in a routine and I feel like we have it all together, something seems to change again. That’s just life, right?! 

For Josh’s birthday (yes, that was over a month ago), we finally had the chance to have dinner at Service Bar. It’s been on my expansive list of places to eat for quite awhile now and for whatever reason, we kept not going. And after eating there, I am very sad we waited so long to try it out! It is most definitely our new favorite restaurant. 

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Service Bar is the restaurant at Middle West Spirits distillery. As soon as we walked in, I knew I loved it- the decor, the large mirrored bar on the back wall, the cozy booths and tables set up close to one another for enjoying each other’s company. The chef, we learned while looking over the menus, is inspired by his midwestern upbringing and his Bangladeshi roots resulting (in my opinion) Ah.Maz.Ing food. I really enjoyed that Service Bar has a standard menu that usually stays the same, while also offering a “Secret Kitchen Menu” which changes as the chef decides. Even though everything on the standard menu sounded amazing, we ended up ordering from the secret menu because that’s just way more fun! 

For an appetizer, we ordered the pull apart garlic bread with radish spread. I was very surprised how much I actually loved something that sounded so simple. It was a flavor bomb. The bread had a nice crunch on the outside, but was so soft on the inside. The radish spread was light and creamy and paired so well with the garlic flavor. 

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We had eaten our appetizer and were enjoying our drinks while our main courses were being prepared. We kind of noticed it seemed to be taking a while, but we were there on a Friday night at 6 pm, so I didn’t really think anything much about it. We were certainly in no rush. Our waiter was so kind and apparently felt bad because he offered to bring us a cheesy brisket crunch while we waited. We were definitely not turning that offer down! Let me just tell you, it was everything I have ever wanted a Taco Bell cheesy gordita crunch to be and beyond. What made it so good was that it had a crispy corn tortilla wrapped in Indian fry bread. And that was then filled with house made queso, crispy lettuce, tender smoked brisket, and smoked cheddar cheese. I have been ruined to Taco Bell and will only be able to eat Service Bar’s cheesy brisket crunch from now on. We ate it so fast, I didn’t even think to take a picture. 

Josh ordered the shrimp and grits for his main course. Don’t be fooled into thinking it was anything ordinary, though. The shrimp and grits was actually a tiger prawn Malai Curry, saffron coconut rice grits, crispy taro beresta, and panch phoron pickled eggplant. It was so much better than I’ll ever be able to describe. The best part of the whole dish was the eggplant. It melted in my mouth and had the most delectable flavor. 

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I ordered the hand cut noodles- Old Beijing Zha Jiang noodles with pork cheek, cucumber, and long bean. The vegetables were the perfect crunchy complement to the tender pork cheek and chewy, delicious noodles. I’m a sucker for noodles every time. And I’ve yet to be disappointed. 

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For dessert, we had the chocolate cake. It was an adorable miniature cake the perfect size for two people. And we got to decorate it ourselves! We were given individual cups with icing, raspberry sauce, and fried cocoa nibs, so we could put the cake together however we wanted. The cake was moist and had a wonderful chocolate flavor which paired well with the sweet of the icing and the tartness of the fruit. And the cocoa nibs added a great texture and crunch. It was such a fun way to end our experience at Service Bar! 

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We are both already looking forward to the next special occasion we have to celebrate at Service Bar!

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PS- this is, as always, all just my opinion!

HammerHeads & LC

I know recently I haven’t been keeping up with my posts like normal. I’ve just really been lacking any motivation with being gone so many hours with my commute/work. When I get home, all I want to do is eat dinner and sit on the couch watching Food Network with Josh. I’m hoping things will turn around soon with this amazing warm weather we’re getting!

I do not know how I haven’t written a post about HammerHeads before. It is hands down my most favorite restaurant ever! I first ate there with some girlfriends a few years ago and honestly I have no idea how we found out about it. HammerHeads is located in the Germantown neighborhood of Louisville. The restaurant itself is in the basement of a two-story house and is not at all what I expected- it’s a small/cozy space with a low ceiling and very eclectic decor and music. There is ALWAYS a line, even when we have shown up at opening time. It’s really that good. I honestly don’t know why we don’t eat there every weekend.

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We arrived slightly before they opened and thankfully (even though there was already a line) we were “early” enough to get a seat at the bar right away. For an appetizer we shared the crispy mushroom medley which is a mix of shiitake and portobello mushrooms with a sun-dried tomato aioli. The mushrooms are always so big and the breading is delicious. You don’t even need the aioli, but really neither one of us is turning down some “fancy” mayo.

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I usually always gravitate towards their dishes with pork belly, but I decided to switch it up a little and try the duck tacos. I’m so glad I did! The duck was fatty and juicy. The pico gave it a nice crunch and the jalapeño-lime aioli added a spicy element that was just right. And it was all wrapped in double corn tortillas which is the only way to eat a taco!

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Josh was adventurous too and went with the BBQ lamb ribs for dinner. The ribs were so tender and fell right off the bone.

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We couldn’t come to HammerHeads and not order some fries to share for dinner too. Of course, we had to order the Grippo fries…fried in duck fat. There really is no other way to get fries there. The Grippo seasoning is BBQy and tangy and the duck fat makes them all the more irresistible to eat.

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I know it sounds like we already ate a lot of food, but we had plenty of room to make a trip to Louisville Cream for dessert. I was super excited to try one of their newest flavors- Milk Chocolate Coffee Crunch. Even though I don’t drink coffee, this ice cream was amazing. Especially stuffed between two huge fresh chocolate chip cookies. The espresso enhanced the milk chocolate flavor and I loved the house-made dark chocolate crunch throughout. Josh had a scoop of the Coffee Crunch covered in hot fudge and vanilla bean whipped cream. Delish!

I’m already dreaming of when we can have a repeat date of this night!

Festivus Games & Chopped

This weekend was so fun and full of firsts! CF Ripcord (my home gym) hosted their first competition ever- the Festivus Games. The Festivus Games is a beginner/intermediate CrossFit competition. Several CF gyms around the country host these Games and everyone performs the same workouts on the same day. I volunteered to help set up equipment, judge during the competition, and clean up afterwards. I’m so glad I did! It was so much fun to see people of all different ages and skill levels compete for the first time and push outside their comfort zone.

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Judging wasn’t easy- you never want to have to tell someone they’re not doing a movement to standard and “no rep” them, but it was a great experience and learning opportunity. There were several times where I wanted to stop counting reps/judging and just cheer people on, I kept getting so caught up in all the energy and excitement. I really hope to be able to volunteer to help at another competition sometime in the future!

After a full day of helping out at the Festivus Games, I was very happy to head home for a “Chopped” date night with Josh. The idea is for you and your spouse to each buy four secret ingredients that the other has to transform into a dish (along with any pantry ingredients), just like on the Food Network show. I chose to cook the dinner portion because I knew Josh would do a better job than I would with any dessert. The secret ingredients I had to use for dinner were chorizo, chihuahua cheese, English muffins, and avocado.

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I stared at the ingredients for a few minutes and came up with the idea to make little pizzas. I cooked up the chorizo, added it to a pizza sauce I made, and put it on the English muffins. I sautéed garlic, peppers, and onion and sprinkled that on top along with the cheese. While I waited for them to heat up and the cheese to melt in the oven, I whipped up some guacamole for dipping. Even though we didn’t put a time constraint on it, I moved fairly quick and am quite proud of the end product. It was very tasty and we both agreed we would happily eat my little pizzas again!

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The secret ingredients I bought for Josh to use for dessert were a bit trickier- ginger snaps, sweet potato, dark chocolate, and strawberry soda.

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After just a few minutes, he came up with a great idea to make a sweet potato tart! He used the ginger snaps in the crust, made a filling out of the sweet potato and dark chocolate chips, and cooked the strawberry soda down with some blueberries for topping. And of course, he melted down some of the chocolate to drizzle over top. He served the tart with some blueberry crumble Halo Top ice cream. It was an awesome dessert and I was super impressed with how he transformed the ingredients! If it was a real contest, he definitely would have won!

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We had leftover ingredients from the dinner portion, so Josh made a “Chopped” breakfast of eggs Benedict Sunday morning. It was so delicious (heck it might have even been better than my pizza)!

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Seriously though, our “Chopped” date night was such a blast-  I absolutely can’t wait to do it again soon!!!

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We had the best date for our 2 year wedding anniversary! One of our favorite restaurants in downtown Columbus (Indiana) is Henry Social Club. Henry’s is just so much fun! The menu is constantly rotating with the seasons and with what is available. When you walk into Henry’s, you feel as if you’ve entered a 1920s upscale bar. One wall features the bar area with all the alcohol visible on open shelving. The other wall is covered in beautiful wooden planks lined with cozy booths which draws your attention down the length of the restaurant back to the kitchen and community seating. I love everything about the decor- from the bronze features to the wood covered wall to the deep blue paint- the whole vibe is very intimate and swanky (perfect for a date night!).

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After being seated in a quiet booth towards the back, we started off our evening with a cocktail for Josh and a Diet Coke for me. I persuaded Josh to try the Bartender’s Folly which is their special cocktail of the day. I cannot remember what it was called or even what all was in it (besides Mezcal and some form of ancho chili), but it was actually very interesting with a just a hint of sweetness and a slow heat. Josh’s next drink was The Preacher’s Wife featuring Buffalo Trace bourbon, King’s ginger liqueur, house pickled peach nectar, and mint. According to Josh, this cocktail was very delicious and would be highly recommended by him to anyone with a love for bourbon.

We were both quite hungry, so it didn’t take any convincing to try something off the Shareables portion of the menu. We opted for the goat cheese custard with flatbread. It did not disappoint. The flatbread was warm and the perfect vessel for the creamy, tangy goat cheese. When we ran out of flatbread, I didn’t hesitate to eat the remaining goat cheese with a spoon.

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For the entrees, I was torn between three different Large Plate options. I ended up ordering the Filet Mignon Korean Style and Josh chose the Rack of Lamb. These dishes are very different from what we normally each gravitate towards (filet for Josh and pasta for myself), but it was well worth moving away from our usuals. The filet came out medium rare garnished with cilantro and microgreens atop homemade pasta, mushrooms, bok choy, and julienned carrots in a spicy sauce. The filet was so tender and juicy, the vegetables crispy in contrast, the sauce just spicy enough. It was one of my favorite dishes I’ve ever ordered from Henry’s. The lamb was served medium rare atop a rutabaga purée with onions, carrots, and potato gratin. I didn’t taste much (Josh surely wouldn’t appreciate me eating both of our meals), but the small bites I had were amazing. The lamb was very tender. The potato gratin was creamy, cheesy, and brought me back to memories of home-cooked meals growing up. I even enjoyed the rutabaga purée which reminded me taste wise of mashed cauliflower.  

If you haven’t already abandoned this blog post to make your way to Henry Social Club for lunch or dinner or just a cocktail, do so at this very moment. You surely won’t regret it.

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Here’s to many, many more happy anniversaries together!!!

labor day weekend

You guys, as I’m writing this my heart is pretty near to bursting from pure joy! Saturday morning after the gym, Josh’s sister and brother-in-law asked if they could stop by…this is something that never just happens, so I knew there was bound to be some exciting news coming. And there is! I’m going to be an auntie!!! This is something I’ve been waiting for forever it seems like. I have the fondest memories of growing up and spending time with my aunts and uncles and I can’t wait to spoil my little niece or nephew like my aunts and uncles spoiled me. Baby Oreo (that’s what I’ve named the little cutie for the time being) is so very loved already.

Now that the big news is out, we can move on to the rest of the weekend. For over six months, Josh has had plans to build a coffee table, but we’ve never been able to find the time over the weekends. With it being Labor Day weekend with no plans (how the heck didn’t we have plans?!), we decided to jump in and go for it. We gathered the coffee table plans and headed to Home Depot. Home Depot has been so great for all our DIY projects recently. They had all the supplies we needed (pocket hole jig, screws, nails, wood glue, and wood boards) and even cut all the wood for us (and there were A LOT of cuts that needed to be made). We unloaded all the wood when we got home and Josh got right to work on the coffee table. There was only one small mistake made in the whole project- Josh had never used a pocket hole jig or drilled pocket holes and he accidentally drilled too deep. Thankfully we had extra wood and headed right over to my parents’ house to cut the extra piece. After that, the building went on without a hitch. I’m so very impressed with my hubby! His very first piece of furniture! (I’m already scheming, I mean thinking about more projects).  

 

 

Once Josh was finished with the coffee table, we had a super (unexpectedly) yummy meal of sauerkraut, onions, and green peppers with chicken apple sausages and roasted red potatoes. For some reason, that meal popped into Josh’s head and we ran with it. I’m so glad we did. Saturday was pretty close to what I think of as the perfect fall day weather and that meal hit the spot. After dinner, we snuggled up to watch “Snatched”. If you all haven’t seen it yet, go rent it now! I could not stop laughing the entire movie. Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer (and all the supporting cast) were hilarious.If I ever get kidnapped, here’s hoping I’m with them.

 

For some really silly unknown reason, I found myself wiiiiiide awake at 4 am Sunday morning. I forced myself to lay in bed, perused through Facebook and Instagram for awhile, and finally got bored enough to get up around 6. I baked sweet potatoes, cleaned up around the kitchen, and caught up on some tv shows.

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I was anxious to get to work on my part of the coffee table, so I got started right after breakfast. We borrowed my dad’s electric palm sander, so that I didn’t have to hand sand the whole thing. It was my first time using an electric sander and I did pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. We had leftover stain and Annie Sloan chalk paint from all my previous projects which I used on the coffee table. Look how great it turned out!

 

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I fell asleep before 9 pm and slept for a solid 9.5 hours! It was glorious and much needed after waking up so early Sunday morning. Josh and I had our usual yummy breakfast of egg whites, pork loin, Brussels sprouts, peppers, and onions with our tea and coffee. Spending time together in the mornings, sipping our drinks, and just relaxing is one of my favorite things.

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With the whole Labor Day ahead of us and no set-in-stone plans, we decided to go hiking at Clifty Falls for a few hours. We arrived fairly early thankfully and had the trails almost to ourselves for the majority of our time there. We hiked Trail 5 first which starts at Lilly Memorial and eventually leads through a tunnel (if you dare) to another parking lot. Of course we dared to go through the tunnel. I mean, we once went caving with our dear friends, the Hamblings, and I’m pretty certain I’m an expert. It is unimportant that the “cave” was actually a tunnel that ran about 400 feet from one side to the other.

 

I’m a goober…I’ve always wanted to do a pistol picture in nature 😛

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Our next trail was Trail 7 which started at Clifty shelter and took us past Little Clifty Falls. I never get tired of spending time walking through nature, hearing the cicadas and birds sing, the rush of water over the rocks, the gentle breeze of the wind blowing through the tree leaves. We’re so very lucky that we’re able to be active and enjoy all the beautiful things God created. We enjoyed a picnic lunch of turkey sandwiches, broccoli, and cauliflower before heading back home.

 

 

When we got home, Josh and I got our RP hypertrophy lifting in (wowzers, it was toasty outside…gotta love that Indiana weather where it went from 60 degrees to 85 degrees in just a day). It was our second to last deload day of this cycle. I’m very ready for this deload week to be over and get back to normal lifting (and eating!).

I couldn’t help myself from sharing more pics of the coffee table! And my cute little monster helping me blog!

 

 

goal digger

You might be thinking “It’s the middle of the year, why would she be posting about goals now?” Well, I’ve had these goals since New Year’s (ok, some have been around for years lol) and I’ve been pursuing them. But, honestly, to me, there isn’t a bad time to think up a goal and start working towards it. There are no rules regarding when you’re allowed to dream a dream and work towards being your best self. I have goals for my marriage, for my career, for CrossFit, just life in general.

Eat clean and stay healthy.
Get butterfly pull-ups.
Reduce credit card debt and budget better.
Get a bar muscle-up.
Be consistent at getting a strict muscle-up.
Go on more adventures.
Move 95# clean & jerks and/or snatches in workouts.
Learn how to handstand walk.
Be actively supportive (of Josh and others in my life).

I made my goals list and wrote it out on card stock to keep on the front cover of my gym accessory work binder, so that I would see it every day and help keep myself accountable. Plus, if I have it sitting out on the bench, someone might ask about it and that can help trigger others to set goals of their own and work on them! While I may not reach all of these goals this year or next year or even the next, I am actively working on being the best version of myself that I can be. And that right there is a win in and of itself to me.

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I got my very first bar muscle-up back in January, but have still been working on progressions and drills because I have problems with “chicken-winging” or throwing one arm over before the other which is bad form. For the first time this weekend, I was able to get three bar muscle-ups with no chicken wing…on purpose! I’ve been told many times over the last several months to use my hips, keep my feet together, etc and for whatever reason it finally all clicked for me! If I hadn’t set a goal to get a bar muscle-up, I would never have put in the time and effort. I would have never known how amazing and accomplished I could feel after putting in all the hard work!

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My RP Hypertrophy lifting went much smoother on Saturday than the last few weekends. I didn’t miss any lifts and even though it was the heaviest weights for this cycle, nothing felt overly terrible. We got in a great mobility session with Ryan and then stuck around for the class WOD. I partnered up with the ever amazing Jessica Downs and we had a grand ole time working through our 10 rounds of thrusters, chest to bar pull-ups (I substituted ring rows so my giant blood blister wouldn’t rip and bleed all over the place), and ab-mat sit-ups with a partner overhead barbell hold.

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After class, Josh and I hosted a nutrition information session for our very first CF Ripcord Nutrition Challenge! Josh and I (and a few other members at the gym) have really been putting in an effort to eat cleaner and fuel our bodies as opposed to just eating whatever food is in front of us. We finally decided to ask if we could get the whole gym involved- what better way to keep everyone motivated and working hard than to involve the whole gym?! We had over 15 people sit in at the information session and at least half that many went ahead and signed up for the challenge! I am hoping we get at least 10 people to sign up, so I’m more than excited that we’re over halfway there already! After the info session, we stopped at Ryan and Jessica’s to pick up their lab, Beans, to watch her overnight for them. She’s just the sweetest pup and such a good house guest! We headed home for all the usual fun adulting- meal prep, laundry, mowing, and tidying up around the house. I had two of the cutest little “helpers” while I meal prepped…secretly I think they were just waiting for me to drop something!

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Saturday evening we had planned on going to see Wonder Woman up in Columbus. Josh and I were sitting on the couch watching TV when he suggested maybe we could head up to eat at 450 North Brewing Co. before the movie. It was going to be a time crunch to get there to eat and make it to the movie, but their pizza is too amazing to pass up and with the nutrition challenge starting in July we knew we wouldn’t have any time to make it there again. We got there at a perfect time- it was busy, but the dinner crowd hadn’t shown up yet and we got a seat immediately. I ordered a Juicy Peach hard cider (it was so crisp and light, the perfect drink for me) and Josh got a Citra Rainbows Double IPA. We got an order of two breadsticks with white queso and the Sweet Asian pizza, a brick oven pizza topped with a sweet chili sauce, red onion, grilled chicken, red peppers, and gooey Mozzarella cheese. It was the best pizza I’ve had from there, definitely my new favorite flavor.

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When we got our pizza, we realized there were only about 15 minutes until the movie was supposed to start. Instead of rushing, we decided it was no big deal to just skip the movie and enjoy our dinner date. Even though Josh and I spend almost all of our time together at work/the gym/home, I never tire of going out on a date and just spending time with him. After devouring the whole pizza (yes, we ate the whole large pizza between the two of us), we came up with a brilliant plan to stop for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cinnamon Buns ice cream, rent the Lego Batman movie, and head home to relax. Sometimes I genuinely wonder how I got so lucky…

We spent Sunday afternoon at Mamaw and Papaw’s house celebrating Father’s Day and Kena’s birthday with Josh’s side of the family. There is never any worry about getting plenty to eat there and yesterday was no exception. Kena grilled some juicy ribs and chicken, Kaylie made homemade corn bread, and we also had the usual broccoli salad, rolls, corn, mashed potatoes, green beans, and veggie tray. For dessert, Kaylie made a homemade red velvet cake with chocolate chips and cream cheese icing and Mamaw had homemade vanilla ice cream.

While everyone played a card game, I took a nap in my “nap” chair. When the card game was done, Kena, Papaw, and Kyle opened up their gifts and we sat around and talked for a bit before heading home. We’re leaving for vacation this coming Thursday, so I took advantage of some free time to sweep, vacuum, and wash our blankets, just so we can come home to an extra tidy house. We ended our weekend relaxing in our room, watching “The Switch” on Netflix. Another great weekend in the books!