Monday, March 31, 2014

Scrub-A-Dub-Dub, I'm Cleaning the Tub!

Good Monday morning, everyone! I hope everyone's weekend was at least as enjoyable or as productive as mine. I did some shopping and splurging on myself, made some headway into preparations for my friend Ashley's bachelorette night out, worked at my part-time job, and cleaned like a mad woman.

I have blogged a little before here about buying my house on March 7, 2013. When I say I bought the house that day, it means my parents, aunt and uncle, and two cousins helped pack 2 pick-up trucks and 3 cars, and the movers packed the moving truck while I signed the papers at 1pm, and everything was moved in by 6pm. It was no joke. If y'all knew me in real life, you would know the 3 Xanax I took that day were necessary but still didn't help much. My nerves were tore up. (Yes, I just said tore up. It was for emphasis.)

I fell in love with my house the minute I saw it. It's vintage, squeaky, and 1970s, which is exactly why I love it. But, it was build in 1972, which means there are still 42 years worth of dirt and grime in some spots. Now, I'm not a clean freak, but I'm not dirty, either. I clean after myself, especially my bathroom. Well, I've been trying to get the tub and shower in the guest bath since the day I moved in and usually clean it once every 2-3 weeks. I've tried Magic Erasers, Clorox bleach pens, Scrubbing Bubbles, a $40 bottle of chemicals from Home Depot that's said to work miracles, and nothing worked. Until now.

Enter the wonderful invention that is Pinterest. I found this Pin a good while back, and finally got around to trying out the homemade cleaner. Well, y'all, it works. 

(baking soda not included because I forgot I wanted to take a picture and threw it away)

The recipe calls for:
1/2 cup White Vinegar
1/2 cup Original Blue Dawn Dish Soap
4 T. Baking Soda

Heat the vinegar in microwave safe bowl for 90 seconds. Allow to cool slightly and add Dawn dish soap. Mix well. Then, once a little cooler, add baking soda. (If you don't allow cooling of vinegar, the mixture will form a volcano.)

Mix well until a paste-like substance is formed. Spread over shower walls and tub with old cloth.

You can clearly see here how grimy and dirty-looking the tub and tile grout are. This is even with weekly scrubbing of tub and cleaning shower walls every 2-3 weeks.

I let the paste mixture sit for over two hours before scrubbing. I then used the same washcloth to scrub the walls first, making sure to get in all the grout, between every little blue tile. I then scrubbed the tub, itself.

You can see in this photo an in-photo comparison. The top left was left to soak in the mixture then scrubbed, while the right wasn't touched by the magic cleaner! CRAZY!

This is a great side-by-side comparison of how this really works! And while the original Pinner said the grime wiped right off without scrubbing, my tile and grout did require lots of elbow grease and a hot, steamy shower running while scrubbing. No complaints here, though. My tub and shower are FINALLY white(ish)!

If you've been looking for a magic, miracle cure for your tub and shower, please try this and come back to let me know if it works! I was genuinely SHOCKED when it worked for me and can't wait to do it again for (hopefully) even better results!


Friday, March 28, 2014

High Five for Friday

Welcome to Friday, y'all! Phew, it's been a long week here, in Raleigh! So glad we finally made it to our favorite day of the week. Today, I'm linking up with Lauren Elizabeth for High Five Friday! She has a wonderful lifestyle blog that's down to Earth and very easy to read.

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1. Monday I had a doctor's appointment that confirmed what I'd been thinking- I'm having my fourth knee surgery, but only the first on my right knee, in April. I know it will suck for a few days, and make my gym time only the stationary bike and weight training for a while, but hopefully it will set me on the right track to feel better during my workouts and moving around, in general. It's going to be good to focus on weightlifting, because I need to learn more about how to do this and incorporate it more into my routine.

...a recent workout. notice how my time/mile ratio is horrible. I was on pace with 2 13-minute miles until my knees were too in trouble to run...

2. Wednesday night was graduation dinner for the Spring 2014 class of the NC State College of Textiles. Seeing all of these young adults and realizing this will be 4th graduation I've planned made me feel old. (It's already been 5 years since I should have graduated in Spring 2009.)

3. Speaking of feeling old, my "little" cousin went to her boyfriend's high school prom last night. She looked SO grown up and SO beautiful that I can't imagine she is the same person I held in my arms just hours after she was born on October 14, 1995. CRAZY stuff, I tell 'ya!

4. Yesterday evening, I got to meet my friend, Averi's, new baby girl. Averi and I were in Pi Beta Phi together in school and little GM is just the CUTEST and tiniest little thing you ever did see. Averi and her husband, Grant, have such a charming 1950s home and I was grateful to be welcomed in to meet the new littlest family member. While little GM got some really cute Easter shoes, I baked mom and dad a cake!

5. Last night, walking around Michael's for over an hour, I confirmed something else I've really known for a while- I have SERIOUS craft store ADD shopping. Y'all, this should be a true disorder listed with the American Psychiatric Association. I'm currently working to plan and craft for a bachelorette night out for a friend and having 16532 different projects running through your head at once with 864 different ways to accomplish each one releases the ADD shopper and perfectionist crafter in me. It's sure to be a damned good party on April 26.

...some inspiration found on Pinterest for Bachelorette crafting!...

So, what have y'all been up to this week? Anything big or exciting? Also, if you have come here via The Sweet Mash, welcome! And thanks to Madison!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lent to Me

For years and years, I joined the Lent bandwagon. Confession, I was born and raised Southern Baptist, so Lent isn't even really observed for us. It's not a requirement, and what's more, most people don't even understand what it's all about. 

In college, I went with the crowd and "gave up" something every year for 40 days. Selfishly, this was just a game for me because everyone else was doing it. I gave up alcohol (yeah right, like that was going to last), chocolate, bread, blah, blah, blah, and it was always hard, so I always gave up. I wasn't taking it seriously because I just didn't know what Lent was all about.

Thank goodness for my amazingly sweet, inspiring, and God-fearing friend, Madison from The Sweet Mash. Madison is one of the most amazing people you will EVER meet and if you are lucky enough to meet her, you'll be lucky to say she's in your corner for life. She and I have become much closer friends the past year and a half, and she mentioned that she was giving up sweets and desserts for Lent. If you knew Madison, you'd know this is a serious matter. She is the queen of baking things and limiting herself to one serving at a time. nemesis, a Reese's milkshake from Cookout..

Lent, for those of you who don't know, is 40 days of abstaining from a physical or material pleasure, symbolic of Jesus' 40-day fast in the wilderness. It is meant to teach the devout how to resist pleasure and temptation, giving us pure hearts and minds to find shelter in the Word and in God, preparing us to be led to Him. To read more about the true customs that are in the Bible, go here.

I decided to join Madison on her journey and make it mine, too. I have recently realized that I need to return to my roots in the church and try to bring myself closer to God again and I really think this is helping. Sadly, I only made it 48 hours before giving in. I felt SO horrible, but not just because I "messed up," but because I promised God I would do something, and I failed. Quickly.

Since then, I have had many temptations, true temptations, but have been able to resist. I know it seems weird to pray about sweets and desserts, but I'm not praying, "Lord, please give me a brownie." I'm saying, "Lord, please teach me the true virtue of patience, and being thankful for all the blessings I do have in my life and that I'm able to afford dinner today."

I know different holidays and observances mean different things to different people, but the sweets to me are just symbolic of all the things I need to rid myself of to learn new lessons from God.

...a cake I baked last night for a sweet friend. didn't have a bite...

Do y'all participate in Lent? Did you know what the true meaning is? If you're observing this period of 40 days, let me know!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Weight-loss Woes

As long as I can remember, even back to when I was a little kid, I was the "big" one. Of course, I was a good FOOT taller than any of the girls or boys until about seventh grade, but I was also the fat one. You can pick me out easy as pie (Wish I had a slice of pie. Come on, Easter!) in all of my elementary school class photos, because I'm the one on the back row, standing right beside the teacher, and almost just as tall.

I joined weight watchers for the first time in fourth grade. My amazing mama had to go with me to the meetings, and I remember her diligently cooking two or three separate meals for our 3-person household so I could eat nothing but grilled chicken, salads, sauteed vegetables, and flounder for weeks. It worked for a while, and i was SO grateful to lose a few pounds, but then it slowly crept back on. I remember being in fourth grade and not able to shop at the Limited Too anymore. I was too big. I had to shop at the regular Limited store with the grown-ups, but I was just a little girl, so the options were limited (no pun intended). I was in a size 14 ladies.

Then, once again, I joined Weight Watchers in middle school. Then again once in high school. By my senior year, I was heavier than ever, thanks in part to becoming very sick my junior year and a severe bout with depression. The weight kept creeping up and finally I went to college, even bigger than before.

The cycle has never ended for me. Until now. Something finally clicked when I came home from living in Savannah. I had broken up with my boyfriend, was eating fast food at least two meals a day, not exercising except to walk to my local Mexican restaurant for margaritas, and was desperately longing for home. Any weight I had lost while living in Savannah had come right back with a vengeance. Thankfully, when I moved home, that all changed.

I was a working woman with a structured schedule, happier than I had been in a while, and realized that I was better than that. Deserved more than just being the "big" girl and deserved to be proud of myself. It's a struggle that I fight everyday. I have NO problem with going to the gym and putting in the work, but food is my addiction. More specifically, ALL the FAST FOOD GOODNESS. People always ask exactly how much weight I've lost, and the truth is, I really don't know. Things had gotten so bad, I stopped weighing myself. The doctor says about 30-40 pounds.

left: in Savannah, June 2012. right: March 2014, with about a 35-pound difference

I'm going to be talking about my workouts, meals, and struggles on this blog. Thanks for reading and supporting me through this!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Little Friday Link-Up, Y'all! is Thursday, which makes it little Friday, and time for the linkup with Ashley from The Grits Blog! And not only is today the first day of spring, but it's also the first day all week we haven't had to bundle up in fifty layers in Raleigh to go outside. AND, perhaps even better than the first day of spring, it's the first day of March Madness! Bring on the basketball, beer, and upsets. Starting with NC State (12) playing St. Louis (5). As always, GO PACK! 

The Grits Blog

Last night, I ventured back into the world of "O, shit. Amy's cooking dinner. AND trying a new recipe for the first time so let's hope she doesn't burn down the house." Well, all is well (except my house still smells like onions and peppers this morning. Whatever.

I made these super duper smelling and tasting baked chicken fajitas from Eatin' on the Cheap. They are AMAZING! I'll admit, I didn't have all of the spices on the recipe, so I just used what I had on hand, so I can't even imagine how much better they would have been with everything.


  • 2 large chicken breasts (cut into strips)
  • 1 (15oz) can tomatoes (I used the no salt added to cut down on sodium)
  • 1 (4oz) can diced green chilies 
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 1/4 t. salt (I personally did not use just to cut down on sodium)
  • flour tortillas
  • 2 t. chili powder (did not have)
  • 2 t. cumin (did not have)

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together in 12x9 glass baking dish chicken, tomatoes (I drained most of the juice from them before pouring in the dish), chilies, peppers, and onions.

Like I said, I used the no salt added tomatoes to reduce sodium. Don't mind my snacks and wine bag in the background, I like wine.

 After onions, peppers, tomatoes, chilies, and chicken are in dish, mix together in small bowl the oil and spices. Drizzle on top and mix again to coat all ingredients.

Place in the oven uncovered to bake for 35-45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender.

Serve with warm tortillas and enjoy!

Hope you all enjoy this recipe and can put it to use for yourself. One of the amazing parts for me is that I was eating this particular meal by myself, and have 3 servings of leftovers for lunches at work and one for dinner. With my thrifty grocery shopping, it only costs about $2.50-$3 for each meal. More on money-saving grocery tips tomorrow! Please come back and let me know if you try the recipe and what you think!

xoxo, y'all!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Absent Weekend

I'm backkkkkkk!!! Sorry for the absence over the weekend (and Monday) if anyone missed me. This blog is still very new, so who knows if anyone missed me or not. Guess I'll find out. 

Friday night and Saturday were spent working my part-time job. It's annoying to be forced to work one and a half jobs, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. To pay the bills and still have ANY sort of money leftover, this girl has to work. C'est la vie, right? It is a job that I really enjoy, the people I work with are amazing, and I get to play with the pretty jewels. What's the disadvantage there? None. That's what.

...just the two most perfect engagement rings EVER, that's what (and don't they both just look PERFECT on my finger)...

Saturday night was THE game of the season. It's always the game I look forward to the most, the second Duke/UNC game of the regular season. Guess what, the better blue won and continued the Blue Devils to a full season of not losing at home. GO DUKE!

Then, my beloved Cardiac Pack played a stellar game Sunday afternoon to end the season with a bang, thanks in part to TJ Warren, ACC player of the week! Next up, ACC Tourney time with my mama! Greensboro, here we come! If you care anything about ACC Basketball, and if you're from NC, then of course you do, check out WRAL's fun interactive bracket here! Of course, my money is always on a UNC and NC State or DUKE final game, just so I can see Carowhina lose! 

xoxo, y'all!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Flashback Friday...

Yes, everyone, the day is finally here. FRIDAY! Whoop whoop! This has been one of the longest weeks in a longgg time and I thought it would never arrive. Granted, I'm working both jobs today and won't make it back home until 10pm, but who cares?!? It's FRIDAY! (which means 2 days off from my real job and 1 from my part-time)!

It's also March 7, which means I officially became a homeowner one year ago today! Little did I know 365 days ago that the next year would be filled with lots of ups and lots of wayyyy downs with my family, but we've all survived, and I've learned a ton of lessons with home-ownership. 

My house may not be the ballinist house on the block, it's definitely not the newest, most-updated, or blinged out version, but I love my vintage 1970s kitchen and bathrooms, I work hard for it, I'm the only one paying the mortgage, it's all mine, and that's more than enough for me.

So, without further ado, a look back at some moments in Amy's First House history...

...While I officially moved in on the day I signed the papers, I finished moving just before Halloween...

...View from the road pre-clean-up...

...View after some tree/bush trimming...

...First Christmas in my house with the Strickland family December 22, 2013...

...Derrick and me February 12, 2014 (he would kill me for posting this online)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Little Friday Link-Up, Y'all! is Thursday, which makes it little Friday! I'm doing my first ever linkup on my second blog post ever! YAY! (You'll soon notice about me that I always insert a 'YAY!' when I have NO idea what I'm talking about or what I'm doing. K? K. Thanks.)

Thanks to Big Holly, I found this linkup that she sometimes does from Ashley at The Grits Blog. Just like Holly, I'm going to treat the Little Friday Link-up as a recap of my week.

The Grits Blog

Monday started off perfectly amazing, walked out of the house in a sweater and work pants. Because...why not? Sunday's NC weather was amazing and I walked around in shorts and a t-shirt running errands and working in the yard. So, the week's weather would be normal, right?! WRONG. It's North Carolina not Florida, nothing is normal about our weather. By the time I left work just before 2pm, the temperatures had gone from 52 and humid to 32 and FREEZING COLD rain. 

Fast forward to Thursday, and this whole damned week has been a passenger on the HOT MESS EXPRESS (if only it were even warm around here) and I'm so tired and thankful it's Friday tomorrow that I could do a happy dance in my (bless Jesus) private office with a door and not even care if someone walked in to see me. O, Happy Day! Tomorrow's Friday!

And...just for the record. Amy's quest to be more thankful, present and in the moment, pray more, and depend on Jesus for strength instead of sweets is going well. My mom even ate a piece of homemade cake that I made in front of me last night and I didn't stab anyone to have a piece myself. More on that later...

xoxo, y'all!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Welcome to the blog!

Hey y'all! I'm Amy - just a Southern girl who is trying to get fit, decorate her house, and get her shit together. And believe me, I've got a long way to go.

I have started and deleted this blog more times than I can count. Lately, I've been thinking, "Why NOT blog? I have TONS of things to say, things to share, and would love to document some moments I feel most proud of myself." Why not, indeed. So, here I am!

I am a lover of all things Southern, love to plan a good party, I'm an etiquette and grammar nazi, and I love food. I love sports, working to make my house my own, and try to do something meaningful with my life.

Here goes nothing...