nine. just barely.

I posted this picture on Facebook this morning.

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It’s one of my favorites taken by Kenny Kim from our wedding day. Here are a few more, if you’re into wedded bliss.

I love the way Danny’s looking at me–like he reallllly likes me.

I captioned it “Niner! Happy Anniversary to US!!!”

The caption should have read, “We made it to nine. But just barely.”

I’m exaggerating. Kind of.

This year was rough. Probably the worst in our ten years together. And in the spirit of being open and honest–and authentic–I thought I should share. And maybe–just maybe–you could relate.

. . .

The combination of losing both my grandparents and a long, cold, dark winter made me sad. And then we had a kid who wouldn’t sleep through the night–that made me tired.

My day job changed a little too this year–and one of my co-workers who was a dear friend made me feel irrelevant, both professionally and personally. That stung.

I put every ounce of shiny, happy Angie–the very few ounces I had left–into my kids, not my husband–because I’m one of those moms who does that. Don’t judge.

At the end of the day I felt underappreciated–even unappreciated.

And he did too.

So we fought at night–after I’d get the insomniac kid back to sleep at 2am–about the same old stuff.

The trash–whyyyyy am I the only one who can see an overflowing trashcan. The dishwasher–empty it, just empty it once in awhile. The lack of thank yous–how about a hug and a thank you when the house is clean, dinner was good and the kids are happy.

It went both ways.

Who cares about the overflowing trashcan–whyyyyy did I let it bother me so much. The dishwasher–let it go, they’re dishes. And he’d never heard a thank you for working so hard all day, everyday to provide a good life for us–a good life that allowed me to spend my days at home with our kids while they were little.

He was right. I was right. We were both right–and wrong.

Good arguments or bad–none of them were really getting to the heart of the matter.

. . .

I don’t know what happened–what changed.

Actually, I do. Both my kids started sleeping like champs–and the sun finally came out. Praise the Summer of 2015.

I think I also realized people we love die, kids we love don’t sleep and sometimes friends we love don’t love us back. Regardless, life is pretty great and I can be happy just living it.

He changed too. But that’s his story to tell, not mine. He’s still the man I married nine years ago–and I appreciate him. He still looks at me the same way he did in that photo on our wedding day–and that makes me feel appreciated.

I’m lucky. We’re lucky–I believe that’s a big part of it too. Marriage is tough. It’s hard work-but it’s also luck. And the bad years just make the good years seem that much better.

Cheers to NINE, Danny. I love you–and appreciate you. Here’s hoping we make it to NINETY-NINE. XOXO.

easy beef tenderloin. and grandma’s beef hash.

Christmas was good this year.  The out-of-towner side of the family arrived last Monday, so we soaked in a full week of family and fun–and so much food.

My mom made the most beautiful beef tenderloin Christmas Eve. She used my recipe which is really Cheryle Turner’s recipe–which I think is actually Karen Pope’s recipe. I can’t remember who should get the credit–we’ve all been making it a long time.

I love making this beef tenderloin anytime we entertain because it’s delicious and so easy. You really can’t screw it up. Plus it looks fancy. Boom.

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Fancy Beef Tenderloin

  • 1 Beef Tenderloin
  • Mayonnaise (make your own. it’s so much better.)
  • Garlic Salt
  • Lemon Pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees. Coat the tenderloin with mayonnaise. Sprinkle garlic salt and lemon pepper generously all over the top and sides of the meat. Place your tenderloin in a roasting pan or on a cookie sheet (just make sure the cookie sheet has a little lip to catch any drippings). Leave the beef tenderloin uncovered.

Bake at 500 degrees. 15 minutes for rare, 20 minutes for medium-rare, 25 minutes for medium or 30 minutes for well-done. Turn your oven off and leave the tenderloin in the closed oven for one hour. Don’t open your oven!

After an hour, take it out and slice it up. The beef will be so tender, you can cut it with a butter knife. I serve mine with horseradish sauce (sour cream, fresh horseradish and a squeeze of lemon–all mixed to your liking) mashed potatoes, green beans with shallots and mushrooms and some rolls with butter.

Everyone will rave–we all did Christmas Eve. And if you have any left-overs (you probably won’t because it’s that good) you can fry it up with your eggs the next morning.

Or you can make Grandma’s Beef Hash. Keep reading.

. . .

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My Grandma Eleanor left each of us a little cookbook with all her favorite recipes–which were all our favorite recipes. She was a wonderful cook. And I like to think I get my mad kitchen skills from her.

Her kitchen always smelled like the three sisters–onions, celery and carrots. And her fridge was always bursting with made-from-scratch-goodies–all stored in old Cool Whip containers. She’d scribble the contents on a piece of masking tape and slap it on the lids. When we’d give her a hard time about her recycled storage containers she’d wag her finger at us and tell us she was a child of the depression. And she was–she probably saved thousands not buying any Tupperware over the years.

When we packed my grandparents up for the big move out of their old house, we laughed for an hour in that kitchen about her collection of old, ratty Cool Whip and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter containers–and those big Prairie Farms Ice Cream buckets we finally threw away.

I miss her all the time–especially during the holidays.

This year, my mom, aunts and I decided to use our leftover Christmas Eve beef tenderloin to make “Angie’s Favorite Beef Hash” from Grandma’s cookbook. Here’s the recipe.

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I love that this entire cookbook was typewritten by her–probably at my Grandpa’s law office while she was supposed to be working. I also love that she mispelled carrots on this particular page (she was a writer  too, so it’s ironic–but it happens to the best of us).

This is the easiest recipe. And a great way to use leftover beef–or leftover beef tenderloin.

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Throw your leftover chopped beef in a big pot. If you don’t have enough leftover meat juice to cover all the meat, add a beef gravy packet with water. I threw in some grass fed butter too. Because Grandma said to.

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Add your potatoes–make sure you chop them up small so they cook faster.

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Sauté your onions, celery and carrots in a tablespoon of grass fed butter for a few minutes.

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Throw it all together in your big pot and add some salt and pepper.

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Cover your pot and simmer everything for about 30 minutes–or until your potatoes are soft. The hash should start to thicken up pretty quickly.

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Our hash turned out perfectly–so much flavor from the good beef. And it made my kitchen smell like Grandma’s kitchen always did–that was comforting for all of us who were missing her this year.

We ate it all–but if you make it and have leftovers, just know it freezes beautifully. Especially in an old Cool Whip container. Enjoy.

. . .

This beef tenderloin (as long as you make your own mayo) and this hash (just don’t use that fake gravy packet) are both Whole30 compliant. So if you’re starting a Whole30 next month, add these to your list of recipes to try.

 

full moons and full hearts.

The boys are asleep upstairs–tucked snug into new Superhero beds.

Danny’s snoring next to me–his glasses are still on the tip of his nose and the remote’s still in his hand.

I should start writing. Because it was good. This week was all so good, and I’ll want to remember it.

But it’s late. And my eyes are getting heavy. The adrenaline that’s carried me through this holiday season is gone–leaving me in the most blissful state of exhaustion.

Here a few photos from Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and Christmas Day–we took at least 100 –so I think we’ll be just fine on memories even without me writing much tonight. My heart is full, just like Friday’s full moon. I hope your holiday was very happy–and your heart is full tonight too.

. . .

Full moon, full house, full bellies and full hearts. Christmas, 2015.

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. . .

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. . .

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. . .

(For the record, Aunt Mimi was around too. She stayed behind the camera and helped me take a few of these pics. She was a little under the weather though and wouldn’t let me take any of her–I’ll get her next year.)

the best paleo (cinnamon) chicken drumsticks.

Want an easy, healthy meal guaranteed to make your house smell amazing? I have you covered.

My girlfriend Anna and I trade Whole 30 recipes all the time. She recommended this Paleo chicken drumstick recipe from everclevermom.com this fall and it rocked our world. Danny actually said these were the best thing I’d ever made him and everyone I’ve shared the recipe with since has agreed–they are really that good.

These drummies are easy. They’re full of flavor. Your kids will eat them–especially if you tell them to growl when they pull the meat off the bone. And the seasoning on the drumsticks makes your house smell like cinnamon. Win, win, win, and win.

Try them with some of my homemade Ranch–and get to growling.

Carly Morgan’s Best Chicken Drumsticks Ever

  • raw chicken drumsticks (I try to get all my meat from Triple S Farms)
  • olive oil or coconut oil (I use olive oil)
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • cinnamon (this is the best part. don’t skimp on the cinnamon)
  • cayenne pepper (optional, I actually opt out. they are so good without it. if you opt in, go easy. a little goes a long way)
  • parchment paper
  • cookie sheet

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. Lay your drumsticks on the paper so none of them are touching.

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Coat all the drumsticks with oil and then sprinkle them with all the seasonings. Don’t skimp on the seasonings–with the exception of the cayenne pepper, go easy on that. And use a lot of cinnamon. Trust me.

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Flip them over and do the same thing–oil and seasonings–on the other side (a little tip to keep that raw chicken bacteria from spreading all over you and your kitchen–use one hand to handle the raw chicken and the other to handle the oil and seasonings).

Throw your drumsticks in the oven for 30 minutes, then flip each of them over. Throw them back in the oven to cook the other side for another 30 minutes.

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Look at those. Mmmmmm. Is there anything better than the slightly greasy, perfectly crispy skin off a chicken drumstick? No. No, there is not. I usually serve these with mashed cauliflower but they’d be good with an easy side salad too.

And thanks to Triple S Farms (and my favorite farmer!) for keeping my fridge and freezer stocked with the very best meat, year-round. Triple S is a certified organic farm that specializes in cattle, hogs, chickens and turkeys–all raised on pasture. They’re a huge advocate for the Local Food Movement–and some of the coolest folks around. Check them out today.

may the (fira) force be with you.

Let me just start this post by saying I’m not a model–and I don’t think I’m a model.

But I do love fashion–especially affordable fashion. And I love feeling comfortable in whatever I’m wearing.

Let me also say we’ve never seen a Star Wars movie—not a single one. But my kids are obsessed with all-things Darth Vader and Storm Troopers this Christmas.

So the irony of this post is not lost on me.

. . .

I met Anna Ragle last year and fell in love with her immediately. She’s one of those people who makes you feel like the best version of yourself every time you’re around them. I love those kinds of people.

Anna owns Fira Boutique in the Gregory Street Center on Campus. Her darling little shop specializes in fashion forward, yet affordable clothing and accessories to fit every unique lady’s style. Read that–Fira’s not just for college girls, it’s for all of us.

I’m excited to partner with Anna and Fira Boutique for this month’s Fly as a Mother post. Here are just a few looks I grabbed in her store last week. All of these tops are affordable–and comfortable. And so flyyyyy.

Check out www.firaboutique.com and order up.–there are pages and pages of great buys. Also, use the coupon code FLYINFIRA for 15% off every single item on her website. Boom.

. . .

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This Chaserbrand Peace T-Shirt was made for me–I can’t say it enough–I LOVE THIS SHIRT!! Also Johnny doing his best Darth, not bad.

https://www.firaboutique.com/Shop/new-arrivals

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This striped tunic is so soft and comfy–and flattering. Plus it matches any little Storm Trooper you may have running around your house or hanging around your neck.

https://www.firaboutique.com/Shop/new-arrivals

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This sweater–yessssss. I’m wearing it right now, as a matter of fact. It’s kinda edgy (a little bit see-through and the coolest open-twist-back). I’m into a little bit of edginess, but if that’s not your thing just throw a cami underneath and you’re good to go.

https://www.firaboutique.com/Shop/Product/Tops-Longsleeve-Sweaters-Twist-Back-HighLow-Sweater—Charcoal

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Oh, here I am–just decorating our Christmas tree in a fancy crop top. It is so fly though, right? Pair it with a high-waisted skirt or high-waisted pants (high-waisted anything is my jam!).

https://www.firaboutique.com/Shop/Product/Tops-Blouses-Longsleeve-Jack-by-BB-Dakota-Adwin

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And that’s a wrap. Thanks for the fun morning and the cool pics, Anna. XOXO.

. . .

Just so you know, I’ll be featuring a local sponsor (could be people, could be places, could be things–all fly stuff I love) once a month for these Fly as a Mother blog posts. I appreciate you supporting the local businesses that support me. So go shop www.firaboutique.com/Shop now–and take the Force (and my FLYINFIRA 15% off coupon code) with you.

the santa visit. and christmas magic.

There was this Christmas. A holiday season–five years ago–I’d rather soon forget.

I remember locking myself in my bathroom that Christmas Eve. Crying. Sobbing. Cursing. And then praying. Begging for some Christmas magic.

There aren’t any pictures. There weren’t many smiles. That Christmas I was just doing my best to keep my head above water.

. . .

Johnny was born the next August. And I found out we were pregnant with Deano that October.

So the next holiday season I was high on life–and Christmas magic. I remember feeling like my heart was so full it might explode–and cover everything in its path with red plaid flannel sheets and green striped footie PJs and cozy fuzzy slippers and hot cocoa and Grandma’s spritz cookies and Frasier fir candles and crackling fireplaces and the most sparkly twinkle lights you’ve ever seen.

This was our Christmas card picture that year. The cards said JOY in the bottom, left corner. Joy–that was an understatement.

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(Kenny Kim took this photo of us. He took our wedding photos too. Check him out, he’s amazing.)

I didn’t take Johnny to see Santa that year. I don’t remember why. I was probably scared to expose him to germs–looking back I was a ridiculously overprotective first-time-mom. Eh, we live and learn.

The next three years though–we rocked the Santa visit with another cute little baby and even cuter Christmas card pictures. Poor Santa, poor Deano.

. . .

This year feels different–better. My kids are older and they *get* Christmas. They love it–Santa, the Elf on a Shelf and all my favorite things.

I’ve come a long way since that sad Christmas Eve five years ago. I’m grateful for that–I’m grateful for all of it. Christmas magic is alive and well around here. And this is my favorite holiday season yet.

. . .

Here are some photos from our Santa visit last week. He’s at the The Virginia Theatre from 5pm-7pm the 16th too, so go if you haven’t already.

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on compliments. and saying thank you.

We’d made it through the second week of December and all its holiday-jazz. But just barely.

We’d had a lot of fun. And not a lot of sleep–are my kids the only kids who have coughing fits every hour, on the hour, all night long for an entire week? Big yawns.

I was tired. I looked tired. And the only thing that could breathe a little life back into my weekend was a basket (or three) of chips with white cheese sauce and a Margarona the size of my head.

So we loaded up the minivan and made our way down First Street to our happiest of happy places–Fiesta Café. We ate and drank–and laughed. And Danny took this picture of me with the cutest little Cyborg of all the Cyborgs.

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I posted it to my Facebook page and my girlfriend chimed in about having the same kind of week and eating at the same kind of Mexican restaurant across town. Then she complimented my hair.

I should have said, “I love you for saying that. Thank you.”

But I didn’t.

I replied to her comment, saying I used the “cover your dark circles, make your hair less greasy filter.” And we traded self-criticisms about ourselves and our saggy-mom-parts for the next hour, with a few other moms chiming in.

Then my college girlfriend hit us all with a response too good not to screen-shot.

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Vessels of awesome–that made me laugh out loud. But she was so right.

Why is it so much easier for me to criticize myself than accept a compliment?

Compliments–especially about my looks–are hard. They’re hard for me to accept on a good day when I’ve slept– and my dark circles are covered–and my hair doesn’t look like the Exxon Valdez oil spill. But accepting a compliment on a bad day? That’s almost impossible for me.

It’s not that I don’t love myself, because I do–although self-love is a newer concept for me. It’s more that I don’t want anyone to think I love myself too much. Because no one likes a narcissist. Or an egotist. Or a vain mom who thinks her kid is the cutest little Cyborg of all the Cyborgs and her greasy beachwaves rival Gisele’s. Ha.

But I can do better. We can all do better.

Beautiful. Hard working. Talented. Amazing. Vessels of awesome. We are all of that. I am all of that. And the next time someone compliments me–or my hair, I’ll just say thank you.