Anchors Aweigh : April 2015


Weekly Confessions

This has been one of those weeks where it feels like there are not enough hours in the day. Anyone else feel that way? It's not a bad thing at all, but life has been moving at full speed as of late! Here's what's been on my mind this week...

I confess... I haven't watched the Grey's Anatomy episode from last week yet. I know what happens and just can't bring myself to watch it. I will soon, but I feel like I need to mentally prepare to watch one of the saddest hours of television ever. Tears for days. 

I confess... I enjoy going grocery shopping, partly because I eat my way through the store. Our grocery store has samples at every corner, and I usually choose not to see the "Take One" sign when I grab a handful of each. 

I confess... House hunting is so. much. fun. Thank you to everyone who has given us advice on this process! We have had a blast and are excited to have found some homes that we really like. 

I confess... Cereal may be the one food that I never get tired of. Aside from our Saturday morning breakfast routine of cinnamon rolls, we eat cereal 6 days out of the week. I'll even eat it for dinner if Parker is not going to be home.

I confess... I ask people I barely know what their favorite baby names are. I think it's a girl thing to love talking about baby names, so I don't feel too badly about this one. Naming a baby is just such a personal decision, and I love hearing how couples choose the perfect name for them. Parker and I are pretty traditional, so you won't hear many outlandish or super unique names from us in the future. We are obsessed with our first daughter's name, Taylor Grace. We think it's beautiful and meaningful to us. So, if you ever want to talk about baby names with a random blogger on the interwebs, this is me volunteering to participate in the discussion.

Because posts are more fun with pictures and I am soaking up every minute we get with this girl until she goes back home.

It's almost Friday! Yall go out and have a wonderful Thursday! 

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Louisville Lovin'

This past weekend was a great one for our little family! We found out Parker was able to take a few days off and decided to high tail it to Louisville to spend time with his parents. We were originally hoping to go this weekend for the Kentucky Derby, but the Navy only cooperated for this past weekend. When the military lets you take vacation, you grab your bags and get out of dodge as fast as you can before they can change their minds. That's exactly what we did, and we had the best time. It's about a 9.5 hour drive from our humble abode in Virginia, but when there are two of you to tag team on the drive, it goes by really quickly. Thanks to so many military moves, we are pretty seasoned road trippers. Audio books and candy for the win!

Friday was really relaxed, which I loved. We took a long walk with the pups and went to watch the boys play golf. Father/son golf time is basically Parker's favorite activity. 

Saturday, we drove to Mammoth Cave National Park to tour the world's longest cave system with over 400 miles of cave! We went on a 2-hour guided tour that got pretty hairy at times. There were some steep inclines and declines throughout the cave, but we all survived with our limbs in tact. Every inch of the cave is made of limestone. Can you imagine 400 miles of limestone? Pretty neat!

Sunday, we worked out at the gym and then ate the calories back in Mexican food and ice cream later that evening. The family work-out was one of my favorite parts of the trip, as silly as that sounds. There is something so fun about all exercising together. The gym is way better with buddies!

Obsessed with this picture. Those Phelps genes are strong!

This little party animal loved her weekend with her Lolli and Pops and even had a creek adventure with Parker. Not pictured is Darla, who was probably sitting in my lap as this picture was taken. We've started calling her my little shadow because she literally follows me everywhere. I'm not complaining one bit! Her more independent sister likes to spend time by herself practicing the art of being unimpressed.

Our little hunter!

Until next time, Louisville!
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Easy Mexican Casserole

Mexican casseroles are a dime a dozen, and I probably have 10 different recipes stashed throughout my kitchen. I wanted to share this one because it was just plain easy and good. When I look at a recipe, I decide in about 5 seconds if I am going to make it or not. If there is an ingredient list down to my elbows, it's not going to happen. There is a time and a place for those involved recipes, but busy weeknights are not it. This casserole was easy to whip together and made great leftovers the next day!

1 lb ground beef or turkey (I used turkey to make it a little healthier)
1 pkg taco seasoning
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
1 can cream of chicken soup (get the 99% fat free kind to cut the calories)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
5 flour tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown your ground beef until cooked and crumbly. Drain any fat.
3. In your skillet, stir in your taco seasoning, cream of chicken soup, 1 cup of cheese, and most of your green onions. Save a few green onions to garnish. Reduce heat and simmer another 1-2 minutes. 
4. Layer half of your ground beef mixture across your baking dish. Spread half of your tortillas over the top. Repeat with the remaining ground beef mixture and top with the last of your tortillas. Sprinkle remaining cup of cheese over the top of the casserole. 
5. Cover casserole with foil and bake 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes or until brown and bubbly. 
6. Slice and serve with a few chopped green onions for garnish. 


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Questions & Answers

It's been a little while since I did a Q&A and when Melanie over at Ribbons & Rotor Blades challenged me to answer these questions, I happily obliged. She came up with some really fun questions that I don't think I have answered on the blog before, so here we go!

1. If you have to choose ONE restaurant, fast food or sit-down, to dine at for every meal for the rest of your life, what do you pick?
Do calories count? Let's pretend they don't. If you know Parker and me in real life, you probably know the answer to this. Chilis. We love it and typically know the waitresses. Shout out to my fav waitress Frankie at our local Chilis. 

2. You're limited to only 5 apps on your smartphone. Which 5 do you choose?
In random order: Instagram, Facebook, BubbleWitch2 (such an addicting waste of time, I know), MapMyRun, and my Bible app.

3. Tell us a story about a time in your life when you were most scared. 
The most vivid memory I have for this question is a recent one. I had surgery back in December following my miscarriage with Taylor. This was my first surgery and thus my first encounter with anesthesia. I remember those first few moments of being woken up as they wheeled me out of the OR and being scared to death. I couldn't breath and was grabbing at my oxygen mask and trying to roll over into the fetal position, and there were at least 5 nurses all around me trying to hold me down. I lost more blood than I was supposed to in surgery, and when they woke me up, my blood pressure was 60s over 30s. It's supposed to be about 120 over 60. Needless to say, it wasn't good. I finally regained my breathing, but those first couple of minutes were really scary. Fun fact: I ended up in the ER 2 days later for a blood transfusion. My blood count was still too low and we couldn't get my heart rate down. Put simply, that wasn't my favorite week of life. 

4. Tell us about a time when you felt the most confident, beautiful, or proud of yourself. 
Hmmm. Well, I felt the most beautiful on my wedding day. I felt like I was glowing and was so confident in my appearance and elated that the day had finally come. There is just something about putting on that dress and knowing you are getting married today!

I felt proud of myself after Taylor's memorial service. I was proud of the way I handled it and proud of myself for insisting we do it. 

5. A song comes on the radio and you immediately start dancing around. You can't help it, and there is no way you can sit there without getting up and dancing. What song is that for you?
More like what artist is that for me... TSwift gets me every time. Right now it's Blank Space, but I love all of her songs. I sing Back to December in my car like I'm preforming on American Idol. And just in case this is a thought, no, our daughter is not named after Taylor Swift.

6. What is your favorite TV show of all time that is no longer being filmed? 
There is only one correct answer to this question. Friends. 

7. What are your favorite blog posts to write? What about to read?
My favorite posts to write were my bumpdates when I was pregnant. In a broader scope, my favorite posts to write are the ones that make me feel something. If I am really convicted and feel strongly about something, I feel like those posts are the most authentic and meaningful. I also like to write posts that I hope will inspire others. I'm glad I've documented our journey after losing our daughter, and if that has helped just one person who has or may go through something similar, then I am happy. As for my favorite posts to read... I like to read funny posts or posts about cool adventures other people go on. I like to write and read it all though, really. 

Happy Friday, yall! Thanks again Melanie for the questions!

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Recent Reads: April

The theme of this month was "Spring Reading", so I stuck to light, fun reads. Reading is now my favorite pre-bedtime activity, and I look forward to curling up under the covers with a good book each night! 

The One and Only 
by Emily Giffin

This book is well written and entertaining, but the plot just made my stomach twist a little. The relationships between certain characters was slightly unsettling, but if you are a fan of Emily Giffin, I'd give it a read. One thing I love is the book is centered around a small town in Texas and their love for college football. The town itself is made up, but they reference the big game against the Aggies (my alma mater) and playing the Longhorns on Thanksgiving. At the time this book was written, the Aggies and Longhorns played every year on Thanksgiving Day, so I decided the made up town represented Texas A&M. That made the book even more exciting for me. Because it wasn't my favorite plot, I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

The Undomestic Goddess 
by Sophia Kinsella

This was my first book to read by Sophia Kinsella but I really enjoyed her writing style. You realize pretty quickly that she is a British author with certain words and phrases written throughout the book. She used "er" quite a bit in place of what Americans would say as "uhh" or "umm". It was a great light read with a cool twist at the end that I didn't see coming. The story is a great reminder to stop and smell the roses in life, and I give it 4 out of 5 stars. 

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? [And Other Concerns] 
by Mindy Kaling

I find Mindy Kaling really funny (her Superbowl commercial where she thought she was invisible had me laughing out loud), so I was excited to read her book. Her book was equally as funny, but it was a bit random at times. I love a story, and this book more closely resembles a collection of thoughts. There were several times where I kind of just wanted to finish so I could read something else, but the book was well written and her comedic personality shines through. If you are into comedy and like random thoughts and anecdotes, you will love it. Since that's not my favorite style, I give it 2 out of 5 stars. 

I have been enjoying all of these fun, easy reads but am excited to dive into a few suspenseful novels next. It's time to mix it up!
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Moments In Time

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PourMoreFun #CollectiveBias

Lately, I've been really trying to enjoy the simple moments. I feel like so often I am planning the next step, trying to get to the next thing, wanting to fast forward this moment in exchange for the next one. I think this new stop-and-smell-the-roses mantra has a lot to do with the fact that we have yet again come to the end of a chapter. Parker has officially completed all of his training, meaning we are now a part of a new squadron, and the word "deployment" is constantly being thrown around. 

We are house hunting, which is beyond exciting, but we also know it means we are about to say goodbye to another house that became our home. I want to hit the pause button and really enjoy the moments we have left here. Once those moments pass, we can't get them back. I remember telling my dad when we first got Darla and I was having trouble adjusting that everything would go back to normal this summer when she leaves and life would be exactly as it was before we got her. His response stuck out to me. He told me that no, it would not in fact go back to the way things were. We can never get the moments of yesterday back, and we shouldn't live trying to do so. He was exactly right. Darla is going home soon, but life isn't going to be like it was a year ago. A year ago Taylor Grace was not yet conceived, and a world of joy and pain had yet to be experienced. A year ago we didn't know how much we would absolutely adore Darla and be heartbroken to give her up. Life has changed, and that's a good thing. It means life has happened. 

We've been taking it easy and just really trying to enjoy each day for what it is: a gift. Our favorite thing to do as of late is to go outside in the evening and hang out with the pups. Parker will grab his golf club and putt around, I'll whip up a snack for us to munch on, and we will have a nice evening together. It's the simple things in life. The other night, I grabbed some Kool-Aid Easy Mix from Walmart after attending a demo and sampling the grape flavor and made some Fiesta Tortilla Roll-Ups. A yummy drink, a little appetizer, and beautiful weather. Is there anything better? It was perfect.

Mom, please put me down. I need to go smell things. 
Our little hunter, always looking for the squirrels and the felines. 
My golf addict.
I just have to talk about the Kool-Aid Easy Mix for a second because it had been years since I had Kool-Aid, and I forgot how yummy it is! It tasted like childhood and was the perfect beverage for our evening. I got greedy at the store and ended up purchasing Cherry, Grape, and Tropical Punch flavors, but we decided on Cherry for this particular evening. The Kool-Aid Easy Mix was super simple and convenient to make, and you just add water. Boom. Done. Since the roll-ups paired so well with the Kool-Aid and were so simple to make, I thought I'd share the recipe with you down below!

Fiesta Tortilla Roll-Ups
8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chunky salsa
1 oz package of dry ranch dressing mix
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
10 (10 in) flour tortillas

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Spread mixture evenly onto a tortilla and roll the tortilla up. Chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. When you are ready to serve, slice into 3/4 inch slices. Enjoy!

So yall, I challenge you to really live in today. It's easier said than done with our minds going a million miles an hour thinking and planning for the future, but there is so much beauty in today. Grab some Kool-Aid, grab your loved ones, and enjoy the here and now. 

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Scalloped Corn

I cannot believe I have been blogging for over 2 years and somehow not shared this recipe yet. Scalloped corn is something I grew up on and one of my all-time favorite foods. My twin sister used to request it as a side dish for our birthday dinner every year. It's just plain yummy!

2 cans cream style corn
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup minced onion
1 (4 oz) jar of pimentos
1 1/2 sleeves of Keebler butter crackers, crushed
2 Tbsp of butter, divided

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a casserole dish (8x8 or similar) with one Tbsp of butter. Set aside.
2. Heat corn in a medium saucepan. Add milk, onion, pimentos, and one sleeve of crushed crackers. Stir to combine. If mixture appears too thick, add a splash more of milk. 
3. Pour corn mixture into greased casserole dish and top with remaining 1/2 sleeve of crushed crackers. 
4. Divide the last Tbsp of butter into pieces and dot over the top of the corn mixture. 
5. Bake 45 minutes to an hour or until cracker crumbs are golden and middle is set. 


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Due Date

Today's the day. It's crazy how quickly 9 months has flown by. I remember staring at that positive pregnancy test in August and thinking how far off April 21, 2015 seemed. The day arrived quickly, but a lifetime has passed between that joyful day in August and now. 

Today is Taylor Grace Phelps' due date. It was never supposed to look like this. We were supposed to be timing contractions or eating spicy food and walking the ends of the earth just to get labor going. Or maybe we were supposed to be holding a brand new baby because she came early. Whatever was supposed to happen, it wasn't this. 

I've said from the beginning that this is a journey, and I still 100% feel that way. There are easier moments and there are hard moments, and today will probably be filled with a lot of the latter. I miss our daughter being in my belly every day, but this is just another day that we have to keep going and hold onto the truth that she is spending another day of eternity with Jesus. We call it her due date. She calls it Day 150 with her Heavenly Father. 

I've said this many times, but I would never, ever take this journey back. Taking away the pain would mean taking away the joy, and there was so, so much joy. Those 18w5d of carrying her make all of this worth it, no matter how excruciating days like these are. 

He gives and takes away. She was and is the gift that forever changed my life. Sometime's it's hard to see the bigger picture, and on days like today it is especially difficult not to question why we had to go through this, but her short life was divinely planned and divinely purposed. We don't always get what we want in this life, but there are blessings all around us. I got to be a mom, and even on the day of what was supposed to be my daughter's entrance into this world, I am so thankful for that. The joy is worth the pain. 

We love you TGP, and we know you are having a fabulous time celebrating your due date in Heaven!

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DIY Sugar Scrub For Mother's Day & A Bragging Moment

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BestMomsDayEver #CollectiveBias

Mother's Day is quickly approaching, and it seems to always kind of sneak up on us. Since we are heading into a busy season of life, I wanted to get a jumpstart and begin thinking of what I wanted to do for our mamas. Parker and I are both blessed with amazing mothers, and I don't say that lightly. I hate being away from my mom on mother's day, but thanks to military life, I've missed the last 3 mother's days and will miss this one too. I can't be there in spirit, but I want to send something to both of our mamas to let them know how much we appreciate them. 

I scoured Pinterest and found a sugar scrub that only used two ingredients, and I could pronounce both of them. Yahtzee! I gave it a test run and could not believe how soft my hands felt afterward! Even Parker noticed a difference, and he's a dude, so that's saying something! Since it was so easy and the results felt so luxurious, I decided it would make the perfect mother's day gift. 

Glass or plastic container
Dawn Ultra Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty Scent dishwashing liquid
Labels, ribbon, etc. for decorating

You want to use 3 parts sugar to 1 part dishwashing liquid. Pour your sugar in first, leaving room at the top so you can stir, and then add dishwashing liquid. Add the dishwashing liquid slowly and sparingly. You want the consistency to be just like paste or peanut butter. Lastly, seal and decorate your jar!

Step 1...

Step 2...

Step 3...

To cap off this gift, I headed to Walmart to pick out the perfect Mother's Day card. I am such a card person and usually go for the sentimental, sweet ones. Parker always goes for the funny, remind-them-they-are-getting-old-on-their-birthday cards. Thankfully, American Greetings Cards has both varieties and something for each of us. I appreciated the one-stop shopping display and was able to pick out the perfect card in minutes. I really liked the one pictured above and thought it described my mom perfectly. 

Since we are on the subject of mamas, I have to take a quick bragging moment about mine. Watching your child go through heartbreak and sadness has got to be the hardest thing you could go through as a parent. My mom always told us she is only as happy as her unhappiest kid, and that's because she cares for us so deeply (I have 3 sisters, so we have quite the brood!). Obviously losing my first baby has been excruciating and is still something I am going through. Neither of our parents lost a child (my mom had 3 healthy pregnancies and Parker's mom had 2 healthy pregnancies), so this has been a new journey for everyone. My mom has been there to love on me when I needed it, listen to me when I needed it, and protect me when facing the rest of the world was the last thing I wanted to do. Losing Taylor Grace has been really hard on me, but it's been really hard on her too. She lost her first granddaughter, but she also had to watch her baby go through so much pain. My mom has been there for me, and in a situation like this, that is all I can ask for. I am thankful and blessed to call this woman my mom!

What are some of your favorite gift ideas for Mother's Day?

Weekly Confessions

Happy Friday yall! The most wonderful time of the week is upon us yet again. That means it's time for another round of weekly confessions. Here's what's been on my mind lately. 

I confess... I like going to the dentist. I think I am definitely in the minority here, but I love how clean my teeth feel after each visit. The dental hygienists are always so sweet and talk to me while they clean my teeth, but I never know if I am supposed to try to respond while they poke around in my mouth or just sit there and nod like a mime. 

I confess... I have a love/hate relationship with avocados. I love them because they are delicious and the primary ingredient in one of my favorite foods, guacamole. Typically once a week, I will decide chips and guac will pair as the perfect appetizer for whatever I am cooking that night for dinner and whip up some fresh guacamole for Parker and me to snack on. We are obsessed. As for the hate portion of my relationship with avocados, it is directly associated with the fact that avocados seem to have the shortest shelf life known to man. I cannot tell you how many avocados have gone bad under my watch. It's a struggle. 

I confess... I pick money up off of the ground. Typically it's just a penny here and there in a parking lot, but it's an opportunity and every penny counts, right? Parker is disgusted by this habit and is convinced I'm going to catch some weird disease from picking pennies up from the dirty ground. I told him to think about how many hands have touched the money in his wallet. Money is gross if you think about it, so just don't think about it. 

I confess... I've decided that people on the east coast eat dinner really late. Obviously this is a huge generalization, but I grew up eating dinner around 5:30 pm. That's a little early for me now, but we usually try to eat around 6/6:30 pm. We don't like going to bed feeling so full, but it is rare that friends here want to meet for a meal before at least 7:00, which means it's at least 7:30/8 before we get our food. We had to develop the 5:00 snack when meeting friends for dinner so we wouldn't get hangry. And by we, I mean just me. 

I confess... I shared this picture on Instagram but wanted to share it here too. My in-laws sent us this photobook of their trip to see us from last September. This trip was when we surprised them with the news that they were going to be grandparents, and it was amazing to relive that through pictures. I got to the last page and cried when I saw that they dedicated the book to our baby girl's memory. It's been emotional around here with Taylor Grace's due date just 4 days away, but we are so blessed to have family that love and cherish our daughter's life like we do. I will forever cherish this book. 

Yall have a great weekend!

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Spring Cleaning Has Commenced

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MiFabuloso #Collective Bias

I've always admired those people who say they love to clean. When I think of things I love to do, I can make a list consisting of baking to binge watching television to traveling, but cleaning won't be anywhere on that list. People who like to clean must have been born with a little extra sparkle or something. If that's you, kudos. I hope to grow up to be just like you one day. 

I try to keep our house decently clean and moderately succeed in this goal. However, when it comes time to move as it does all to often in the military life, moderately clean won't cut it. There is this thing called your deposit that your landlord loves to hang over your head as a bargaining chip to make the house look immaculate. You scrub the house top to bottom for hours just to get that money back that you've probably forgotten about because it's been been a year since you paid it. Still though, money is money and if a clean house is what it takes, I am determined to win this game. 

I am a list person through and through, and there is just something about crossing off items on a to-do list once you've completed them. Was there ever a more productive feeling? Everyone at my job uses the calendar on their phones or computers, but I am forever stuck in the 19th century proudly writing out my day's activities in my planner. Since I am a list person, I created a list perfect for Spring cleaning or a deep clean right before you move. 

I broke it down room by room, and I think I just might have to reward myself with a cookie after I've completed all of the tasks in a room. Yes, that seems necessary.

This list has worked well for me, so feel free to pin and print it for your own use too!

Since we are gearing up for another move in the next couple of months (we are moving locally, but a move is a move as far as cleaning is concerned), I decided I should probably get a jump start on it. 

I headed to Walmart and picked up Fabuloso® Multipurpose Cleaner in Spring Bloom and Lavender. The lavender smelled too good not to purchase. If my house smelled like that on a regular basis, I'm pretty sure my husband would be doing back flips. Goals. I like that I can use the Fabuloso® for pretty much everything. I don't want to have to buy 10 different products to store, and that can get pricey quickly, so the fact that Fabuloso® means one stop shopping is a win in my book.

Maybe after I am done cleaning I will take off the nail polish that is way past looking pretty. No, that's too much for one day. Maybe tomorrow. 
Whether you are gearing up for a move or you have a house that is just in need of a good, deep clean, Spring Cleaning season is upon us! Put on your rubber gloves, pop in your Taylor Swift CD, and get to work!

If you are a bit of a cleaning novice like myself, here's a tip. Head to Walmart, look for a Fabuloso® display on the end cap of this aisle, and go from there. 

Are you one of those magical people that enjoys cleaning? No judgement if you are. Just pure admiration. 

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