July 29, 2009

Cooking Light During A Busy Week

It has been another crazy week. I told Todd I would be interested in getting a check-up with my doctor to see how high my blood pressure is. Really, it has been one of those weeks. But I'm slowly starting to crawl out of the madness and the events I'm planning at work are beginning to fall into place (praise the Lord!)

Okay, no more complaining. I promise.

My cousin Hannah stayed with us on Tuesday night and convinced Todd and me to go to the Station Inn to hear bluegrass music. We are not the biggest fans of bluegrass. A co-worker asked me to describe the night in three words. I said "I.left.early." Ha! But it was really great to catch up with Hannah. She's a ton of fun and makes me feel like a kid again. She always has a huge grin on her face and finds the positive in everything. The world needs more Hannah's.

I totally forgot to get a picture of the two of us while she was in town, so I grabbed a couple that we have taken over the past few months.


Me and my cousins Stephanie and Hannah (right).


Somehow between the demands of work, a sick-day at home and family visiting, I was able to throw together a quick but really tasty meal this week. I've been reading Cooking Light lately and found a recipe for Pan-Grilled Snapper with Orzo Pasta Salad. Recipe here. I substituted the snapper for tilapia (tilapia is cheaper and just as good).


The next recipe up my sleeve: Mozzarella, Ham and Basil Panini. Recipe here.


Alright, I need to stop looking at food. I'm just glad these are all "light" recipes!

July 26, 2009

They Say It's Your Birthday

Last night we celebrated Allison's 27th birthday. The night started at Arrington Vineyards, one of Allison's favorite places. We had a picnic dinner with close friends. The weather was beautiful - a perfect night for a birthday dinner outside. Arrington is this great little vineyard owned by Kix Brooks from Brooks & Dunn. It's just a few miles outside of Franklin. It's the perfect place for a date or dinner with friends.

Todd and I arrived a little early, so we thought we would snap a few pictures before everyone arrived.

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Our friends arrived and the party began. It's not a real party until the girls start posing for pictures!

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We ended the night back at Jeff and Allison's for homemade ice cream and a "drive-in" movie. It's so great having friends that make you feel like a kid again. I can't imagine my life without them.

Happy Birthday, Allison!

July 22, 2009

Seeking Rest

My head is about to explode. The demands of work and life are full force and I'm hanging on by a thread. In no way is this post a "my life is so awful, please feel sorry for me" post. I love my life. I really do. It's just that there are times when I don't think I can juggle all of the balls I have in the air. I'm starting to feel like one of those balls could drop at any minute and the stress is getting to me.

God's timing is so perfect. Last night Todd and I were sitting on the couch, both on our laptops because I have been so busy that I'm taking work home with me and have to combine our couple time with work time. I'm not thrilled about it. I wrapped up a few emails and could hear God's soft whisper, "Tara, put that down and spend time with Me. You can't keep going at this pace and I won't let you. Stop what you're doing and look to Me."

So that's what I did. I closed my laptop, crawled into bed and opened my devotional to the date July 21. Sometimes God makes me laugh. I literally laughed out loud as I read the page. How does He do it? :)

Rest in My presence when you need refreshment...Many people turn away from Me when they are exhausted. They associate me with duty and diligence, so they try to hide from My presence when they need a break from work....As I spoke through My prophet Isaiah: In returning to Me and resting in Me you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength.
Oh, how I needed to hear those words. Life is stressful in good ways. I'm so thankful that I have a job that I absolutely love. I'm thankful that all of our family has visited and continues to visit this week. I'm thankful to own a home that needs to be cleaned. But at the end of the day, all I need is a Savior who sees my weakness and in His goodness calls me by name to sit with Him and hear His voice.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading Southern Living (I really mention that magazine a lot. Maybe they should pay me?) I found the most amazing resort. What I wouldn't give to pack my bags and head to Austin for a week with my favorite guy. I think this place could help me relax. Do you agree?



If you don't hear from me in the next few days, I may have packed my Bible, kidnapped my husband and boarded a plane for Texas...

July 20, 2009

Meet Me In St. Louis

We're home! I survived last week although I came back to a lot of demands at work. I left on Friday with one boss and came back today with a new one, but that story is for another time.

Last weekend my family visited from Missouri and we went non-stop. I'm starting to wonder how both my parents and in-laws have more energy than I do. Hopefully I'll be that energetic in my forties!

Before heading to St. Louis, I gave my family a quick tour of Nashville. They have been here several times, but we visited a few places that they had never been. We managed to go to a few places I had never been either which was fun.

Since the weather was perfect, we headed down to Centennial Park to see the Parthenon.


My brother and sister, Drew & Shaye


My Dad & Step-Mom - This pose was my dad's idea!


The goddess Athena - inside the Parthenon

We went to the Opry Mills Mall to do a little shopping, but on our way we stopped at Cooter's. My brother Drew is the biggest Dukes of Hazzard fan you will EVER meet. Sitting in the General Lee made his whole trip. He couldn't stop talking about it.

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Saturday we were up early and off for St. Louis to watch the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards lost, but it was still a fun game and a great time with my family.


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It was hard to watch them leave, but we had a wonderful time and can't wait for next year's family vacation!

July 16, 2009

East Coast and Back

I'm back from my trip to the Carolinas. It was an exhausting trip (I'm still trying to catch up on sleep), but it was a great visit.

On Sunday I flew into Durham to visit my mom and my sister Cami. I took Cami to Foster's for lunch. It was as delicious as ever. We both had the roasted turkey sandwiches (turkey, brie and spinach on homemade focaccia - yum!) Cami has just recently rededicated her life to Christ, so it was such a great opportunity to spend time with her and encourage her in her faith. I'm so proud of her and thank God for what He is doing in her life.


Me & Cami at Foster's Market in Durham, North Carolina

After leaving Durham, I headed to Spartanburg, SC for a radio visit with Matt Maher. It's trips like this that make me love my job. A woman had called the station to say that Matt's song "Your Grace Is Enough" helped her face each day after her 17 year old daughter was killed in a car accident last year. Matt surprised her at work and sang the song to her. She became very emotional thanking God for using Matt's music to comfort her. It was such a humbling experience and I'm so thankful that I could witness it.


I met a lot of great people including the station's intern Amanda who kept me laughing the entire time, and our new friend Trevion. I wanted take him home with me!


Our last stop was in Charleston, South Carolina. I wish I would have had more time to spend there, but I'll have to visit again and bring Todd with me. What a beautiful city!

Matt and I ate lunch at Hyman's Seafood Co. I knew I would love this place when I saw on the menu that it was voted the best seafood restaurant in South Carolina three years in a row by Southern Living magazine. Honestly, that magazine has never let me down! My mahi mahi sandwich was unreal. I know a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the mahi at Daily Dish. I stand corrected. Hyman's has the best mahi I have ever had!


Charleston is such a beautiful place. I hope Todd and I make it down there together soon.





My parents are on their way to Nashville now, so I better get back to cleaning the house. We're heading to St. Louis this weekend for a Cardinal's game, so I'm sure I'll have updates soon.

July 14, 2009

Loving This Living Room

After hanging out with my mom and sister (update & pics to come soon) in Durham on Sunday, I drove to Greenville, SC for a work event. I had a couple of hours to kill and instead of sitting in my hotel room alone, I hit the local Barnes & Noble for some interior design inspiration.

If you need some fun ideas, I strongly recommend taking a look at Amy Butler's Midwest Modern. I want to recreate her living room in my house. I love the pillows on her sofa and loveseat. I just need to find a slipcover for a chair and a half. Any suggestions? :)


The photo is a little blurry - my Blackberry camera isn't the best quality, but I'm loving this look.

July 11, 2009

Rachael and Ria

As I mentioned last time, this week is about to get crazy. But before the craziness begins, I wanted to start off the weekend with a nice breakfast with my hubby before I take off for four days. While Todd was still asleep, I grabbed my Bible and journal and headed downstairs to make coffee and read. I desperately seek God's grace and strength when I face stressful situations. Even good stress. My body doesn't handle stress well. Mentally, I'm pretty good at juggling lots of different things, but I know I'm stressed when my body reminds me. I knew my quiet time today was crucial.

When Todd and I were in Atlanta a couple of months ago, we ate at Ria's Bluebird and Todd had the best strawberry pancakes. The closest recipe I could find was from Rachael Ray, so I made her version. I also whipped up some orange-maple butter I found from Bakerella.

I whipped up the pancake mix and added the strawberries.


When the pancakes were done, I covered them in the orange-maple butter, syrup and more strawberries. Yum!


Pretty good start to the day if I do say so myself. I'm off to speed clean before Tim and Tracy get here, then we're off to PM for sushi. Let the good times begin!

July 9, 2009

Preparing for Craziness

Last weekend was just what I needed. It was so nice to get away from the busyness of life and relax. The only thing wrong with last weekend was that it wasn't long enough. :)

The photo below was taken by Allison as we floated lazily on the lake while the boys tried their hardest to catch fish and Al and I flipped through the pages of Southern Living. In that moment, nothing else seemed to matter.


Then Monday came and I was thrown back into reality a little too quickly. Work has become stressful. I like to be busy, especially at work, but when busy turns into insanity, it starts to really feel like work. On top of that, this next week is about to get really crazy. Todd's family will get here on Saturday. On Sunday I leave on a four-day work trip to the Carolinas (where I'll get to see my mom and sister and eat at Foster's again!). When I get back to Nashville, my dad will be on his way here to visit. I'm so excited for he and my family to be here, it has been over a year since they have been to our house. Their visit will include a road trip to St. Louis to see the Cardinals. When we get back from St. Louis, my cousin is coming in town for a couple of days. Whew!

God's timing is perfect. I would not be prepared to face the week ahead without our mini-vacation. I've been in overdrive mode for weeks and needed to pause and take a few deep breaths. I needed to leave my Blackberry behind and recharge. I needed to laugh hard and sleep in late. I'm so thankful that God understands our need to slow down and gives us rest when we need it most. Isaiah 40:30-31 says: Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

I'm really looking forward to spending the next week with my family. We'll create many great memories that will most likely be documented here in the days to come.

I'm also thankful for my Nashville family who encouraged me to take a break from the demands of everyday life. I'm sure my family will thank them too when I'm not as tired and cranky as I would have been had I not stopped to catch my breath.


One of our nightly dinners at the cabin...

So as I prepare for the craziness that is about to come next week, I remind myself of how fun it will be and how I won't want it to end, which is exactly how I felt about our cabin retreat.

July 5, 2009

A Happy 4th

Todd and I are slowly getting back to life as usual after returning from an amazing weekend getaway with our closest friends. I don't have a lot of pictures (Allison was the photographer for the weekend), so I'll have to upload those as I get them. It's amazing what a difference a lazy, peaceful, recharging weekend can do for a person.

We spent the weekend eating, boating, swimming, sleeping, laughing, fishing, reading, lounging, etc., and wrapped up the weekend with a fun fireworks display.

This was the lake view from the deck as we drank our coffee on Saturday morning:


A big thanks to the Skaliskys for inviting us out to the family cabin. Hope to make it back a few more times this summer!