Friday, March 14, 2014

5 on Friday

1.  Beautiful Running Weather

The weather Saturday morning was gorgeous!  I ran 2.21 miles with a pace of 14:42 pace.  
I have really enjoyed running with some coworkers in Maumelle's Women Can Run clinic.  We're in the Beginner Runner B group.  This week we were running 2 minutes, walking 3.  

2.  Hair Gets a Makeover

Saturday afternoon I finally had a much-needed hair appointment.  I last had my hair trimmed in November, and we haven't touched up the color since June.  My ends were flipping out everywhere and the color was very brassy-looking.  Does anyone else have problems with their color fading? 

Jean, my hair stylist for the past 3 years, will be celebrating 50 years of cutting hair this March! Jean is amazing, and I think she does such a great job with my hair.  I trust her completely!  She trimmed 1" off the ends and foiled a reddish brown in my hair.  It's very similar to my natural color, just with more red.  Even though she foiled it in, she said I could easily do this color all over, which I just might do in the future.....

Crazy as it may seem, I continue to use the same stylist even after I moved to Maumelle.   It's an hour drive, so I usually just make a whole day of it and catch up with some friends and places that I miss in Russellville.  After our hair appointments, Adam and I met up with my brother Andrew and sis-in-law Norma.  Norma took a few pictures of Adam and me for our 2-year anniversary.  Although the trees were still brown and bare, I think we got some good shots.  I'll be sharing some of those in a future post : )

After pictures, Adam and I returned to a favorite Russellville restaurant:  Stoby's.  We had many of our first dates here!  They still have the best cheese-dip and possum pie around!

3.  Recent Beauty Splurges
Urban Decay - Naked Basics Palette
Naked Urban Decay Basics.  Ordered mine from Sephora.
Benefit Cosmetics - They're Real! Mascara
They're Real! by Benefit.  Also ordered from Sephora.
I'm loving my new eye makeup!  The first day I wore this mascara, my principal seriously did ask me if my eyelashes were real!  This stuff is the bees knees!  

4.  My Go-to Necklace

This has been my favorite piece of jewelry for years.  I get so many compliments on this necklace (probably not because it's pretty, but because it's definitely unique.) I've been stopped in airports by complete strangers wanting to know where I got it/how I made it....they even ask to take a picture of it, so they can try to make their own!
About 4 years ago, a friend was helping me sew some aprons for Christmas gifts.  I hadn't bought buttons yet, so she offered this necklace up--she kept it in her sewing box for spare buttons!  I exclaimed it was too cute to cut buttons off, so she gave it to me.  Someone had crocheted this for her 20+ years ago, and she just didn't think it looked good with any of her outfits.  I wear it with just about anything : )     

5.  Blu-ray Finds

After our Stoby's date in Russellville, Adam and I went to Hastings to look at movies, books, etc.  It just so happened they were having a buy 2 get 1 sale on all used blu-rays and dvds.  I scored these three movies for just $13!  I was pretty proud of that : )

Monday, March 10, 2014

What's for Dinner: Pita Pizzas

Years ago, my roommate made these pita pizzas, and they have been a dinner staple ever since.  They're simple to make, inexpensive, and very tasty.  If you're like me, you probably already have most of the ingredients on hand:

What you'll need:  

-Pita pockets.
(I prefer wheat.  I keep these in stock by storing them in the freezer.)
-Pizza sauce/pasta sauce/bruschetta
(I always keep extra jars of pesto/pasta sauce on hand for last-minute dinner ideas)
-Diced tomatoes
-Fresh Spinach
-Feta Cheese
-Italian Seasoning
-Crushed red pepper flakes
-Ground pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place pita pockets on baking sheet and top each one with a layer of pesto and then pizza sauce.  Add a layer of spinach and diced tomatoes and top with feta cheese.  Season as desired.  Place in the oven and back for 25-30 minutes. 

I didn't have diced tomatoes the night I made these.  I also added pepperoni to Adam's--he's no a fan of meatless meals.  


Friday, March 7, 2014

5 on Friday


1. The Main Cheese

Thursday night I met up with two of my best girlfriends for dinner and painting.  We had a casual dinner at The Main Cheese, a new restaurant in Little Rock that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches, all of which are named after local landmarks.  I had "The Pinnacle"--Grilled chicken breast, Cheddar, Swiss, "Pinnacle Sauce," and roasted cashews on sourdough.  It was delicious!
"The Pinnacle," Gourmet Grilled Cheese 

I'm so glad Emily saw this painting on the studio calendar.  It looked really intimidating at first, but it turned out to be one of my favorite paintings I've done--2nd only to the Eiffel Tower I did last Spring.  It felt a little rushed at the end of class.  We spent a lot of time on the backgrounds and outline and not enough time on the intricate detailed patterns.  I was worried mine wouldn't look completed, but once I put my brush down and stepped back, I liked it.  Loved it, actually.
March 6, 2014 @ Painting with a Twist

Spring 2013 @ Painting with a Twist

I couldn't resist taking this picture with Bob Ross.  How goofy do I look?!
Nellena, Emily, and me
3. Serenades

On days when the weather is nice, such as today, my junior high choir kiddos will inevitably ask to have class outside. Every time.  Today I made a deal with them:  "give me 30 minutes of your undivided attention, and we'll go outside to sing our final song of rehearsal."  They accepted the deal, of course.  They packed their bags, we went out to the commons area, made a huge circle, and sang a song we're working up for the spring concert.  We sang Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Over the Rainbow," accompanied on guitar by one of my precious 7th grade girls.

They sounded fantastic!  Having them in a circle was like turning on the surround sound--much better than the acoustics in my classroom!

4. Women Can Run

Our first night of the Women Can Run Clinic in Maumelle was unfortunately postponed because of the ice storm.  And I missed the 2nd "first" night because I opted to paint and eat grilled cheese instead of run.....I still think I made the better choice!  Despite not making it to the first week of training, I have been running on my own and am planning a run for tomorrow morning.  I'm excited about getting back into running! I've really enjoyed my runs around the lake lately.

5. Versace Eros
Versace - Eros
Until I tried Versace Eros, I had never been very interested in perfumes.  Perfumes usually went unused and forgotten because I would grow tired of them after a short while.  Not this one!  I got a sample of this from Sephora in January and couldn't wait until my next paycheck to order my own bottle.  A month later, I still love it!  I ordered mine from Sephora.

Happy Friday, ya'll! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hello/Goodbye Linkup

Hello March, Goodbye February

Nestful of LOve

I'm linking up for the first time with Allison from Nestful of Love.  Check out her cute blog!

Hello Running Shoes!  Long time, no see..... I'm super excited about the Women Can Run Clinic starting back up this week.  This will be my 4th year to participate, and I'm pumped about how much I'll improve this time around.  One day, I hope to be a year-round runner rather than a fair-weather runner : )

Hello to 2 years of marriage with this handsome guy! Our anniversary is March 17. We're planning on taking our 2-year anniversary pictures with my sis-in-law this weekend.
Photo by Mallory Berry.

1st Year Anniversary.  Each year, we're going to take a picture holding the picture from the year before.
Picture by Mallory Berry.
Hello Daylight Savings Time, Goodbye getting home after dark!

Hello Spring Cleaning!

Hello beautiful hiking weather, Goodbye snow days!  (I might be a little premature saying goodbye to snow days.  We're celebrating a snow day today due to yesterday's ice storm.)

Pinnacle Mountain, West Summit Trail

Pinnacle's Summit.  March 1, 2014
March 3, 2014.  Snow Day due to the ice storm!
Hello Weight Watchers, Goodbye to the extra pounds I've been carrying the past 2 years.

Hello (regrettably) to Girl Scout Cookies.  I may have gone a bit overboard....Tagalongs & Samoas are my favorites! 

Hello Daffodils and Tulips!  I'd like to visit the Daffodil Festival this year; I haven't been since I was in the 6th grade.  The tulips at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs are also a must-see.  

Hello Divergent, Goodbye Happier at Home.  I'm the person who has to read the book before the movie.  Can't wait for it's release on March 21! 

Hello to March's Resolutions as part of my year-long Happiness Project!
-Give the blog a Makeover
-Be Amanda
-Push myself
-Thing BIG
-Take weekly steps to promote my blog
-Follow my curiosities
-Avoid time-wasters
-Take time to wander & play

Here's to the new month!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

First Sunday in Advent

Today is the first Sunday in Advent.  For the offertory in this morning's service, I played my favorite Advent hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.  This arrangement, by Bill Wolaver, is absolutely gorgeous!  It's part of the Big Red & Green Book of Christmas Solos.  I love the quiet simplicity of the intro, and the piano at the church has such a lovely upper range (which is not necessarily heard in this amateur video ). 

 This year, I'm trying so hard to be true to the Advent season and not play "Christmas" tunes until our Christmas Eve service.  It's such a hard thing for me to do, since the rest of the world started blasting Christmas songs the day after Halloween! I love Christmas music, so I'm thinking about doing "The 12 Days of Christmas Solos" and posting a new piano solo every day, beginning on December 25.  I have too many favorites from my Big Red & Green Book of Christmas Piano Solosand there's no way I'll be able to perform all of them in the 3 Christmas services we'll have. 

Apparently this book is currently out of print.....I hope I never lose my copy : /

Enjoy!  Thanks for watching!



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Hymn: My Shepherd Will Supply My Need

Today was Christ the King Sunday, so I played my favorite hymn My Shepherd Will Supply My Need.  This simple, gorgeous arrangement is from Mark Hayes' book Hymn Settings That Touch the Soul

I have played this arrangement too many times to count, and it's always a huge hit with our congregation. 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The 12 Days of Cookies!

Okay, I've entered my Aunt Kay's best cookie recipe into "The 12 Days of Cookies" contest.  Public voting will take place online November 16-25 to determine the top 24 recipes, and the panel of judges will then narrow the list to 12 winners. The first recipe will be published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on December 13th, and another recipe will be featured on each date leading up to the Christmas Day.

Not only do the 12 winners win a feature in the newspaper, but they also win a year's supply of milk from Hiland Dairy! 

Out of 95 entries, we are currently in 15th place!  Not bad, huh?  If anyone out there actually reads this, I'd sure appreciate your vote!  It takes just a minute to sign up to vote on the website, and once you do, you can vote ONCE A DAY! (Subtle hint)  Just click here to get started. 

And in case you feel like you should taste-test them first, here's Aunt Kay's recipe:

Aunt Kay's Oatmeal, Chocolate-Chip, Toffee Cookies

1 c. butter
1 c. light-brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 3/4 c. old-fashioned oats
12 oz. chocolate chips
8 oz. toffee bits
1 c. pecans--chopped, toasted, & cooled

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. In a microwave-safe, large mixing bowl, melt the butter on high for 1 minute.
4. Add brown sugar, white sugar, salt, and vanilla to melted butter. Stir to mix well and remove lumps.
5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. Mix flour and baking soda together in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in large bowl.
7. Stir in oatmeal and mix thoroughly.
8. Add chocolate chips, toffee bits, and pecans, stirring to mix into dough.
9. Drop scoops of dough onto lined baking sheets and bake in oven for 13 minutes.
10. Cool on wire racks until completely firm

Friday, July 5, 2013

Firecracker 5K

For the 4th of July, my friends and I ran in Little Rock's Firecracker Fast 5K. This race has been held in our capital city for the past 37 years, and believe me--it is a fast 5K! The race starts in The Heights and ends down by War Memorial stadium. The course is almost all downhill, so it's a great race for improving speed. I was super excited because I set a new PR--I finished in 36:13:59, my fastest 5K yet! And, I almost ran the entire thing. I walked through the hydration station, and I walked the last turn of the race because it was uphill. I will definitely be running this race next year, and I WILL run the entire course! My goal is to be able to run a 5K in 35 minutes or less. I'm almost there! 

I was so glad that Katherine and Beth could join me for this race. I made our tutus the night before. (I've become a tutu guru : ) I can turn them out pretty quick now.) We decided we're also going to run the Watermelon 5K for the Hope, Arkansas Watermelon Festival, and we're going to make tutus for our "watermelon costumes." Woo hoo tutu party! 
Beth was the first in our group to cross the finish line and was interviewed by Channel 7 news. Her interview and our 3 tutus were featured on the 6:00 news...umm....AWESOME! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Superhero 5K

This past weekend, I ran in Russellville's Superhero 5K.  As you may know, I love costumes, and there's no better way to get me to run than to tell me I get to dress up.  I decided to go as Wonder Woman (because honestly, it's summer and too hot for the all-black Cat Woman getup, and we girls have fewer options than the boys).  It was so much fun making my Wonder Woman costume:  I made a no-sew tutu out of blue tulle and bought the sticky-back foam stars from Hobby Lobby.  I made the wrist cuffs, headpiece, and emblem (which fell off my shirt--I was too lazy to sew it on!) out of glittery gold fun foam.  I added a plain red t-shirt and my white compression sleeves to resemble boots--I wish I'd had them in red.

I love that the race also had a backdrop.  That was fun.  You really get the full Superhero effect, no? : )

Playing with filters : )
Supporting the Cause.  It's always fun to dress up, but I also wanted to participate in this 5K for the cause is supported.  All proceeds were donated to the family of Carter (who loves superheroes--his favorite is Batman!).  Carter is the 4-year-old son of a Russellville police officer and was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.  Carter is currently undergoing treatment through UAMS and the AR Children's Hospital.  The family is still searching nationwide for alternative treatments.  Donated funds will help the family with medical bills and travel expenses, so I'm happy to join the cause.

Adam comes to most of my races, but his band had a show in downtown Little Rock late, late, late Friday night.  I was nice and decided to give him the morning off : )  I was thrilled when my brother & sis-in-law (who live in Russellville) decided they were coming to the race.  They met me at the finish line, and afterwards, we all went to Stoby's for breakfast.

Eli (on left), also ran in the race.  He must be a pretty fast runner since Andrew
talked to Eli for at least 5 minutes before I made it to the finish line : )
My sis-in-law Norma & me.
After breakfast, I went to Clarksville, where Norma's coworkers hosted a shower for Baby Noah.  Noah will be here this August, and I'm super excited to fill my role as the crazy aunt : )

Baby Shower with Norma
This was such a neat place--it's a coffee house/radio station in one (hence John Lennon in the background).  They also have a stage for live musicians to perform on the weekends.  If I didn't live so far away, I'd definitely be checking it out one weekend.

They had the cutest cupcakes at the shower!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

DC Adventure, Part 1

A couple months ago, my friend Sarah told me about some bus tickets she had found.  Megabus had a great online deal--$10 roundtrip from Knoxville to DC.  Umm....sign me up!  We didn't really have a plan, but we decided a spontaneous trip to DC would be a fun way to kick off the summer.

I spent my first week of summer in Knoxville visiting family, and that Friday, Sarah and I loaded the bus.  We loaded the bus at 10:00pm

Sarah and I think this should be an ad for Megabus.
We might also be a little biased : )

Sitting in the front seat on the top deck.
We're still smiling because we don't know what's coming....

This was why we chose the front seat, top deck (as suggested to us by a friend).
We did have a wonderful view.
This was the point we realized we would be exploring DC on 0 hours of sleep.
Not exactly what we had planned.  
About an hour into the trip, Sarah and I noticed a few problems.  First of all, her seat was broken and would not recline.  Mine did, so I offered her my neck pillow, but neither one of us was comfortable.  Second (and by far the worst part of the ride) was the broken windshield wiper.  There was a rubber piece, about 6 inches long, that had separated from the wiper.  The wind would catch it, and it would whack against the windshield.  VERY LOUDLY, I might add.  Thump, thump, thump...all through the night.  It might have been a little more bearable if it had been keeping a steady beat or maybe some kind of rhythm, but no.  It was a very long ride.

The bus arrived at Union Station around 7:30am.  I'm very thankful for my Google Maps app.  If we didn't have a blue line to follow, we would have been even more lost! (Yep, I left the map of DC at home.) We had already planned on walking to our hostel because Sarah had read it was "close" to Union Station.  We definitely got in our exercise that morning because it was a "close" 25-minute walk to the hostel.  It did feel really great to stretch our legs after a 9-hour bus ride.  

The hostel was actually in a great location.  It was 8 blocks from the Capitol, 4 blocks from Chinatown, and 1 block from a taxi stand.  And if we had known...only a $7 cab ride away from Union Station : ) Most importantly (for we were starving when we arrived in DC) our hostel was just down the block from a little French Crepe restaurant, where we definitely indulged.

Nutella, banana, coconut crepe.  Um...yes, please!  

Any place that has a Nutella display in the all right with me : )