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2013: A Look Back

31 Dec

Another year has flown by! The older I get, the faster time flies, it seems. Every year seems a little shorter and a little shorter.

Tomorrow, I’m meeting up with some of my book club friends to discuss hopes, dream, and goals for 2014, so after Wednesday, it’s all about looking forward. So before we dive into 2014, I thought I’d do a little round-up of highlights and tops from the past year.

Top Blog Posts of 2013

Y’all have a wide variety of tastes here — I’m impressed with your (relatively) balanced diet! One breakfast, one entree, one side, and two desserts. Delicious. Here are the most-viewed posts of 2013.

Wine & Plum's Top Posts of 2013

1. Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes  2. Apple Cheddar Squash Soup  3. Coconut Macaroon Cookies  4. Mini Cheesecake Bites  5. Summer Pasta Salad

Top Posts on Instagram

Wine & Plum joined Instagram in 2013! Here are a few of my top pics:

Top IG

1. Salted Caramel & Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies  2. Honey souvenirs from my trip to Savannah in October  3. Stacks of books in my apartment, part of #FMSphotoaday  4. Fall leaves on the bridge in my neighborhood

Favorite Books of 2013

I joined a book club in late 2012, and it’s now been more than a whole year of reading with these lovely ladies. Here’s a few of my favorite books I read this year, some with the best book club ever, and some on my own. Check out my personal book reviews here.

Top Books 2013

1. The True History of Paradise by Margaret Cezair-Thompson  2. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo  3. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett  4. Lost by Gregory Maguire 

Etsy Favorites

I opened a Wine & Plum Etsy shop a couple months ago! I’m excited to feature stylish, affordable items handcrafted by yours truly. Right now I have hand-knit infinity scarves, earrings, and creaseless hair ties listed. Who knows what 2014 will bring! Here are a few of my favorite items.

Etsy Faves of 2013

1. Charcoal Chunky Knit Infinity Scarf  2. Blue Crystal Drop Earrings  3. Multi-color Creaseless Hair Ties  4. Navy & Ivory Knit Infinity Scarf

My Favorite Recipes of 2013

Here are my personal favorites from the past year. I highly recommend giving these recipes a try!

Favorite Recipes of 2013

1. Biscoff Blondies  2. Milky Way Pecan Pie  3. ABC (Apple-Bacon-Cheddar) Sandwiches  4. Kale & White Bean Soup   5. Cheesy Spinach & Tomato Pie

Personal Highlights of 2013

Let’s see, where to start…

  • My brother got married! I had a blast planning their wedding and preparing a lot of DIY decorations. And my new sister-in-law is so amazing and sweet!
  • The BF and I took a summer vacation to Austin, Texas, which was awesome. Oh, the tacos! We’d love to go back!
  • We celebrated our first married anniversary and sixth together anniversary with a trip to Asheville, NC, this fall. Always one of our favorite places to visit.
  • My baby sister went off to college! Exciting and heartbreaking and scary and wonderful.
  • My big annual work event broke new fundraising records, which I’m super excited, pleased, and grateful for.

And that’s it! Thanks for taking the time to look back on 2013 with me!

Happy New Year!

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly
Block Party from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from Twelve O Eight
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows Wild
Wonderfully Creative Wednesday from All She Cooks
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
Full Plate Thursday from Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove
Foodie Friday from Simple Living & Eating

Resolutions in Motion

19 Feb

The final tally…

Goal 1: Cook at home most nights of the week.

I achieved this goal for 3 out of 6 weeks. 50%? Yikes. But the good news is, now that I’ve started a spring CSA, I’m doing much better.

Goal 2: Have a max of 4 non-water drinks per week.

I achieved this goal 5 out of 6 weeks. Success!

Goal 3: Practice yoga once a week and take a walk at least once a week.

Between not achieving this goal some weeks or doing a walk but not yoga or yoga but not a walk, I’d guess I achieved this goal about 50% of the time. Not so great.

So now what? Resolutions in Motion

Overall, I’m thinking maybe I’m not so much a resolution person. I mean, I’m blogging about this to the world and linking up with other blogs, and the public accountability just didn’t do its job. Maybe the problem is that writing FAIL on my blog is big capital letters just isn’t enough of a deterrent to make me get up off my butt and go to yoga or cook dinner. Sorry, y’all. I just don’t care if you know that I failed at my resolutions.

But I do care that I failed because I set these goals for a reason. So I need to find other strategies that are going to help me stick to my goals.

Goal #1: I need to up my game when it comes to advance prep. I just am not going to plan, shop, and cook for a meal after a long day at work. It’s not going to happen. Our new CSA is really helping so far. Instead of starting from scratch, which is really hard for me, I can start with a list of ingredients I know I need to use and go from there. Then it’s like a fun puzzle. I also need to get back into meal planning and cooking on the weekends.

Goal #2: This one works. I think it’s easier for me to just say no to something for the sake of a resolution. I mean, really, it’s a split-second decision, and I can remind myself that I’ve hit my limit, and that’s it. A little easier than convincing myself to get up and spend an hour exercising or cooking dinner. So I’m just going to stick with this goal from here on out.

Goal #3: As for walking, the biggest issue is the weather. Maybe I can look into a community center during the cold months — I know the gym at UNC had a walking track inside. Otherwise, I know that if I just hold out a few more weeks, I’ll start walking again. I don’t mind blistering heat, so I can make it through the summer, but I can’t stand cold, so I’m just not sure this is ever going to happen in the winter. As for yoga, I just need to remind myself in that moment that as much as I don’t want to get up and go, I’ll be so glad I did when it’s over. A friend said that to me last week, and she was so right. I always enjoy yoga, but I never want to go to it. Weird. So instead of thinking about the next 10 minutes, I’ll think about an hour from now, and how great I’ll feel after finishing practice.

That’s it! Even though I won’t be blogging about these any longer, I’m going to keep my resolutions. Maybe I’ll post a random update on how it’s going. I hope all your resolutions are going well!

I’m joining the final Resolutions in Motion link-up! Check out the link-up and giveaway at any of the host pagesShaping Up to Be a MomCovered in GraceRamblings of a Southern Belle, and Craftbotic

Resolutions, Week 5

12 Feb

Week 5 report…

Resolutions, Week 4Goal 1: Cook at home most nights of the week: FAIL

Complete fail. But we’re starting a spring CSA tomorrow, so I’m going to have to start cooking. I’ll have a load of fresh produce sitting in my kitchen. Tomorrow I’m going to get the first delivery of my weekly box from the Community Nutrition Partnership. This week, we’ll receive 1 bunch of Collard Greens, 1 head of Cabbage, 1 lbs of Carrots, 2 Apples, 1 lb of Sunburst Tomatoes, and 1 bunch of Kale. I don’t eat many greens other than spinach, and I’ve never been a fan of collards, cabbage, or kale, so we’ll see how this goes. I’m thinking of making a kale and white bean soup or maybe some green smoothies.

Goal 2: Have a max of 4 non-water drinks per week: SUCCESS

I’m pretty certain it’s just 4. Could have been 5, but I think just 4.

Goal 3: Practice yoga once a week and take a walk at least once a week: HALF SUCCESS

I didn’t walk at all — the weather was bad. I did make it to yoga though, which I’m particularly proud of because I was reallllly feeling like sitting on the couch and watching a movie that day.

Don’t forget to check out the hosts of Resolutions in Motion: Shaping Up to Be a Mom, Covered in Grace, Ramblings of a Southern Belle, and Craftbotic. Visit any of their pages to link up your resolutions post.

Resolutions, Week 4

5 Feb

Wow, I can’t believe it’s week 4 already! Here’s the round up:

Goal 1: Cook at home most nights of the week: FAIL

We had some Groupons to use before they expired, we went out of town, and the BF treated me to dinner a couple times to make up for working so much lately. C’est la vie.

Goal 2: Have a max of 4 non-water drinks per week: SUCCESS!

Woo hoo, two weeks in a row of success! I noticed myself over the weekend thinking, ‘Oh crap, this is my 4th drink, this is it, no more until Tuesday…’ And then on Sunday skipping the Coke for dinner and on Monday skipping the coffee shop. All of which is EXACTLY what I’m supposed to be doing when I set a goal for myself. So… win!

Goal 3: Practice yoga once a week and take a walk at least once a week: SUCCESS!

After several weeks of either failing to meet this resolution or only kinda meeting it, this one is finally a complete, unquestionable success. I walked for 3.63 miles last Tuesday when we had a gorgeous, 70-degree, sunny day. And I went back to yoga Sunday night for an awesome yoga practice.

One struggle I’ve had with exercise over the years — aside from being a diva about the weather — is that I get bored easily. I would cut my walking sessions (or elliptical machine sessions, when I used to go to a gym) short because I was bored, and my mind would either wander, or worse, focus in on how miserable I was working out. Music wasn’t enough. I tried to read when I used machines, but it was hard to concentrate with so much going on around me. Then I found podcasts, and problem solved. My favorites are This American Life and Radio Lab, both of which I can download through iTunes for free. They’re usually an hour long, which is the perfect length for a walk, and I’m so wrapped up in the story, that I don’t think about my legs hurting or being cold or whatever. It’s great.

So when exercise is too easy for me, I get bored, but when it’s too hard, I just want to give up. That’s why yoga is such a great form of exercise for me. The guiding principle is to do what you need to do when you need to do it. If I’m really feeling it and I want to push myself, I can opt to do a more difficult form of the pose. And if it’s just not my day, I can scale it back, or take a break altogether. It’s very personal, but also communal at the same time. I’m doing this very personal, self-reflective, and body-focused exercise, but there are tons of people around me doing the same thing. And that group effort encourages me to keep going for the full 75 minutes. I’m so focused on my body and what I’m doing, that I make it through a fairly long and fairly strenuous exercise session without constantly wondering when we’ll be done. And the whole time, my mind is blissfully clear of anything outside of that room — one of the few times I can stop my brain from racing about stress and worries.

Whew — got a little long-winded about exercising! That’s weird.

Now for the Resolutions In Motion Facebook/Twitter Hop! This hop is for anyone and everyone who wants to make some new friends on Facebook and Twitter! Our co-hosts won their spots, so make sure to visit them and follow!

There are three linkys below: one to link up your Facebook page, one to link up your Twitter account, and a third for any Resolutions In Motion participants who have a weekly post to link up!

We hope your goals are going great- only two weeks left! Psst, did you see our post about all the amazing grand prizes?! Next week we’ll post about all the other fantastic prizes that our participants can win!

Now on to the hop!
Please feel free to share this button:

Follow your hosts: 

Shaping Up To Be A Mom (Facebook/Twitter)

Covered In Grace (Facebook/Twitter)

Ramblings of a Southern Belle (Facebook/Twitter)

Craftbotic (Facebook/Twitter)

Follow your co-hosts:

Squishy Cheeks & Cupcakes (Facebook/Twitter)

Violet Imperfection (Facebook/Twitter)

Blessed to be a Blessing (Facebook/Twitter)

Wine & Plum (Facebook/Twitter)

Link up your Facebook and Twitter accounts below!




Resolutions, Week 3

29 Jan

Here it is… round up for the week:

Goal 1: Cook at home most nights of the week: FAIL

But it was Triangle Restaurant Week, so I’m taking a pass.

Goal 2: Have a max of 4 non-water drinks per week: SUCCESS!

After not doing so well the past couple weeks, I finally got this one!

A little history on this: When I was growing up, we drank sweet tea. And I mean sweet Southern tea. Delicious. If we went out, I drank Coke. At some point, my mom went through a ‘oh my goodness, all this sugar is so unhealthy’ phase and switched it up. She went to Diet Coke, which I can’t stand. So I ended up drinking pretty much only water through all of high school. The water habit was awesome and healthy and not a big deal once I got used to it, but then… college.

Resolutions in Motion

Thanks to the unlimited dining hall soda, I got seriously addicted to soda. A couple years ago, I gave it up cold turkey. (Well, not quite. I drank a lot of chocolate milk to get through the caffeine withdrawals.) After two weeks or so, I was mostly cured of my addiction. I dropped 5 pounds almost immediately, felt way better not needing a ton of caffeine every day, and had some annoying stomach issues nearly vanish. But I still have a big weakness for a nice cold Co-Cola, as the BF’s Granny would call it. And the more I have, the more I want. It’s a cycle. So… back to water it is.

I’ve noticed that I really want Coke with certain junk foods or at certain times. Like at the movies, where our snack is always buttered popcorn and a Coke slushie. Or when we have pizza, which I feel just requires a Coke to go with it. So part of kicking this habit is also eating healthier and avoiding those junk foods. Sometimes I can just have one sip of the BF’s soda and then be fine. If that’s all it takes to curb my cravings and go back to my glass of water, then I think that’s okay.

Goal 3: Practice yoga once a week and take a walk at least once a week: FAIL

The weather was awful — we even had ice/snow. My office had a delayed start one day and got out early another day. I keep inside when it’s cold, and I certainly don’t drive anywhere when there’s frozen stuff on the ground. And then I planned to go to yoga on Sunday, but ended up spending the day on the couch feeling sick.

Now that I was finally successful with avoiding soda, this week I’m going to try to focus on this goal. I think maybe I need to find a friend to go to yoga with me. That would certainly help.

Don’t forget to check out the other bloggers participating in Resolutions in Motion – Round 2!


Slow Cooker Sausage & Peppers

28 Jan

This past weekend I helped with the decorations and planning for my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower. I had a lot of fun doing the decorations, and I’m going to be crafting even more for the wedding in April. I will definitely share some of the projects at some point, though I’m making no promises on the timeline.

For the shower, we did a potluck, and everyone brought very delicious food. I’ll share a few recipes as I get them. This one’s short and simple, from my momma. She made a delicious sausage dish. It works equally well on a potluck table as it does for a main meal. When we walked in to set up the decorations, I could smell it cooking in her crockpot.

I was about to say “delicious and warm for a wintery night!” But I remember having simple dishes like this in the summertime, when we were off from school and too busy doing fun things to cook. Sausage and fruit salad and chips were a great summer meal when I was growing up. So I guess… it’s good all year round!

Slow Cooker Sausage & Peppers

Sausage and Peppers
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links
1 large onion, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 small can diced tomatoes
Cut sausage into bite size pieces and brown in a skillet. Combine everything in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.

Linking up with:

Resolutions, Week 2

22 Jan

Resolutions in MotionWhew! I’m already late on this post, and now it’s late at night, so here’s a short and quick check-in on my resolutions:

Goal 1: Cook at home most nights of the week: SUCCESS?

Oh geez, I really don’t remember. These resolutions really are just showing me that my memory is terrible. I think I did well on this one? I don’t really remember eating out much, and that’s the biggest point of this goal, so I guess… success.

A little history on this one: My cooking at home goal was going well at one point in my life, but then things got busy, and well, you know. But one thing that will definitely help me get back on track — I try to spend Sunday afternoons planning meals, shopping for groceries, and cooking meals to be packaged and frozen for weeknight dinners.

Goal 2: Have a max of 4 non-water drinks per week: SUCCESS?

Again, poor memory here. But if I didn’t succeed in this one, I think I was pretty close. I drank a lot of water.

Goal 3: Practice yoga once a week and take a walk at least once a week: MIXED RESULTS

Like last week, I didn’t make it to yoga, but I walked a ton. The weather has been going up and down, so I made it outside quite a couple times on those high points. I walked a little over 6 miles total last week. Not bad. But I really do need to go back to yoga.

Woo hoo! On to week 3. Things have been crazy at work for both me and the BF — that always makes it a little harder to keep my resolutions. We’ll see how it goes!