Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Measuring Success - 5/31/17

Some months are wonderful. Some months are rough. And this was a rough month.

When I started writing this, I really struggled with something good to write. As much as I was happy with my progress last month, I was that unhappy with it this month. I know that it's mostly on me because we haven't eaten as healthily as we should. I've kept up with my gym routine, but not my food routine. We also traveled a lot and weddinged (I made that a word) a lot. I gained about 5 pounds since the last time I weighed myself (about two weeks ago). And my measurements increased. I also know that I should be really happy with where I'm at.

But I'm not. And I think it's okay to say that. It's okay to be frustrated with where you are. If you haven't been here, then you either will be soon or you just haven't been honest with yourself.  It's called a journey because it isn't something that you just conquer and move on. Sometimes you conquer it, sometimes it conquers you. Sometimes you have amazing months and sometimes you have big setbacks. In the end, it's how you move forward, how you keep going. So while this month has been beyond frustrating, I'm going to find some good things in it. Because this is not going to conquer me. 

Sigh. Big ol' sigh. 

But I did have some wins. So here they are:

I ran three miles. I have only done that once before. And my timing was awesome. Two miles were under 13 minutes, one just over. 

I fit into a skirt I haven't seen in years. YEARS! I've been fitting in size 12 jeans and other stretchy bottoms, but this is the first straight, non-giving article I have worn. That was pretty amazing.

When I look at these two wins, I'm proud. I have a long way to go, but I know that I've also come a long way. I never thought I'd be able to say that I ran three miles. Last night I went to spin class and killed it. I felt really good. So while I've been set back a little, it hasn't been all that detrimental to me.

Here's my side by side comparison from last month. Weirdly, the one on the right looks a little tighter in the middle, but that could just be my posture. But I don't look worse! And that's what matters!

So if you've had a rough month, I hope you can find some wins. It's not always about what the scale says, though we all know that we do care what it says. But there is always something to be proud of, something that you weren't able to do before. That's what you focus on until you get back to the good place. Here's to June and finding my good place again!

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Work Week's Worth of LulaRoe

Confession (that no one should be suprised by): I like to buy clothes. I love material gain. I really love material gain at a discount. It just makes my heart happy. This past year, I've really honed my love for LulaRoe. I say honed because before I liked it, but now I feel like I've hit my groove with the pieces I shop for and buy. I've gotten extremely picky, but as a result, I love everything that I own. Whereas the items that I bought in the beginning, I like, but don't love.  I recently had a party and got some gorgeous pieces for free or at a discount. I've been traveling this week and have pretty much lived in my Lula, so I thought I would show you how I've worn my Lula this week, which has had some pretty crazy demands!

First off, most of this stuff is new! This past Friday, I had an in home pop-up. Back in the fall, I tried an online pop-up, but it didn't go very well for me. LulaRoe, much like Jamberry, is one of those things that does better in person than online, in my opinion. Even for people, like me, that know what we like. The fabrics are different, so the fits are different. Being able to actually touch and try everything on is huge. I went to my friend Crystal's pop-up in March and really liked the consultant and her inventory. It's true that every consultant gets random inventory, but I can also tell you from my vast online Lula shopping experience that not all inventory is created equal. Tabitha's inventory is awesome and she' super fun, which helps. So, I had a party and got a lot of fun stuff for free or at a discount! 

Let's talk this week. I had meetings Monday and Tuesday, left Wednesday morning for a conference in New Bern that ends today! I'm the Secretary/Treasurer for my professional association, so between Board meetings and last minute details, I need to look professional while also comfortable. 

Top: LulaRoe Classic Tee, Medium/ Skirt: LulaRoe Cassie, Medium/ Necklace: Premier Designs Sugar Rush/ Shoes: Restricted Adora Sandal 
First off, I'm working really hard to not have as many mirror-selfie posts. Monday, I kept it pretty simple and went with my favorite purple Classic T and a Cassie skirt. Both of these are size medium. I prefer a large in a Cassie, but I can also make a medium work if I really love a print. I really love the fabric of this Classic T. I want all of them! It's a polyester/rayon blend and it's a nice material for work.

Tuesday I had a bunch of meetings with outside clients, so I tried to dress a little more professional.  The Julia dress is perfect for days where you need to be professional, but you also want to be easy!

Dress: LulaRoe Julia, Large/ Necklace: Stella and Dot Sutton Necklace/ Shoes: Clarks (similar here
The Julia dress can be a little daunting as it's very straight without a lot of forgiveness. However, there's an easy way to create a little ruching. Just pull a small amount on the inside of the dress where you want the ruching to occur and then secure it with a hair tie. You can't see the knot from the outside and the ruching helps conceal any problem areas. I paired this dress with the Sutton necklace from Stella and Dot and these super comfy nude heels. I got them from a friend years ago, but linked to a similar pair you can try. If I wear heels to work, I make sure they are comfortable and I can wear them all day without wanting to cry at the end of the day. Gone are the days of cute, uncomfortable heels for me!

Whew, Wednesday. I went to the gym at 6 am, left at 8:30 am for New Bern for the conference, had a Board meeting at 11 am, the conference started at 1 PM and we had a networking dinner. I knew that whatever I started the day in needed to be comfortable, not easily wrinkled and something I could literally spend about 12 hours in. 

Kimono: LulaRoe Linsday Kimono, Small/ Tee: Limited White T-shirt/ Pants: Vince Camuto Black Leggings/ Shoes: Jessica Simpson Mugaro Flats/ Necklace: Stitch Fix/ Bracelet: Stella and Dot
The Lindsay Kimono is one of my favorite styles from LulaRoe. I love cardigans and I just love how this kimono lays! I have a yellow one that my friend Sarah bought me for my birthday last year and I get a ton of compliments every time I wear it, so I was super happy to find this one at my party! The black and white is perfect to pair with a pair of leggings and either a tshirt or tank underneath. Here, I have it with my Vince Camuto leggings, which are a little more substantial and work appropriate than Lula leggings, and a white tee.  I added my pink flats for a pop of color. Everyone loved those! One thing that I try to do when traveling is to coordinate what I take, so that my shoes and jewelry can be interchangeable with multiple outfits!

I love this pattern!
The second day, or first full day, of the conference normall involves our business meeting. I always have to give a report at this meeting, so I like to look a little nicer than I do on day one. I'm still running around, though, so flats are still my go to option.

I went with my new Carly for Thursday. When the Carly dress first came out, I wasn't a fan. I like definition in my dresses. But once I learned to size way, way down, I've come to love it! This dress is leggings material, which is super soft, and is a size XXS. This is the only time in my life I'll be able to say I'm wearing an XXS. Thanks, LulaRoe!

I added this photo to show you the back of the dress. It's a high-lo hem. I belted it to give it just a bit more definition, which raised the hem all around. I normally wear a small and the hem is a lot longer on those. 

Today is the last day of the conference. We tend to dress down. It's only a half conference day and half travel day, so comfort is key.

Top: LulaRoe Irma, Small/ Jeans: Loft Modern Skinny Jeans size 12/ Necklace: Premier Designs Sugar Rush/ Flats: Jessica Simpson (see above for link) 
I also bought this top at my LulaRoe party last Friday. The first Irma I bought was a medium and it was (and still is) huge on me. It's not attractive or flattering on me. I don't love it. At all. But this one? This one is kind of perfect. It's a slinkier material, so it's nice and light and I love the pattern on it. It's great for work and I love that I can dress it up or down. And check out the pattern!

There you have it! A whole work week's worth of LulaRoe! I love how versatile it all is and that there aren't a pair of leggings in sight! Sorry to all the leggings lovers out there, I'm just not one. If you haven't tried LulaRoe, definitely find a local pop-up and go try on all the things! Online parties are great, but you really need to figure out which styles are best on you and your preferred sizing. Happy Friday! Have you tried LulaRoe? What's your favorite?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Oven Parsnip Fries from Juli Bauer's Paleo Cookbook

When we first did the Whole 30 diet and then Paleo, I remember trying to make myself love cauliflower.  It was the Paleo answer to everything: mashed potatoes, rice, pizza crust. If it was something made with gluten, I guarantee you someone found a way to do it with cauliflower. But I hated, loathed even, cauliflower. Now, I've found a few ways I enjoy it, but parsnips have become my version of the cauliflower. And it all started with this recipe.

What is a parsnip. That's what you're thinking, right? It's what I thought when I first read this recipe.

A parsnip is like a white carrot. It's a root vegetable and almost has a bit of a peppery flavor to me. I really like them for oven fries because I think they hold up a little better than potatoes when baking.

Making oven parsnip fries is really simple.  I'm using the recipe from Juli Bauer's Paleo Cookbook. It's still one of my favorite cookbooks to use for Paleo recipes. You'll need:
  • 3 large parsnips ends removed and peeled
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil or butter
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4  tsp garlic powder
I'm lazy and don't peel the parsnips. I cut them into matchsticks and then chop off the sides. To match stick:

Cut the parsnips either in half or in thirds, making equal lengths (or close to it). Then slicing in half again for the fat part. 

Slice into strips. You don't want them super thin, otherwise they'll burn (you'll see evidence of this at the bottom!). See those brown edges? I chop those off.

You want to end up with matchsticks about this size. 

This is what your pile should look like at the end. If I make this as a side for a meal after the gym, I like to do the chopping before the gym.  That way I just dump them into a bowl, season and then put in the oven when I get home.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Dump the parsnips into a large mixing bowl.  Pour in the melted coconut oil, the sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Then spread out onto a cookie sheet. 

Try to keep them from overlapping as much as possible. I was being lazy and didn't want to have to use two pans, so mine are overlapping. Also, don't take too much time between mixing up the oil and spices and putting them on the sheet.  Coconut oil solidifies quickly!

Pop in the oven for 25 minutes. 

Pull them out an d flip them over. They will be slightly golden on top when you pull them out, but the real color is on the bottom. Heat the oven up to 500 degrees. Pop back in the oven for about six minutes. The original recipe says 8-10, but mine start burning at about six minutes. 

Plate them and enjoy! We like to eat these with steaks.  Aaron's gotten really good at grilling steaks! My entire goal now is to see how many things I can make with parsnips - maybe mashed potatoes next?! What is your favorite way to make baked fries?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Favorite Spring Finds

I am loving this beautiful weather this week! Spring is one of my favorite seasons, especially for fashion. The colors, the styles, the lighter fabrics. Everything is just a nice refreshing change from the heavy neutrals of fall and winter. And lately, I've made some awesome spring finds, so I thought I would share!

Laura Geller Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator - Ballerina
I received a sample of this at our blogger meet-up at The Southern Women's Show that took place in April and it has been in heavy rotation ever since! For years, I didn't wear anything on my cheeks. Powder blush and I aren't friends - it tends to look really heavy on me. It wasn't until I found Smashbox LA Lights Lip and Cheek Color Crayons that I really started wearing blush again. I've been layering this illuminator over my favorite cheek color for a really pretty glow. I'm going to carry this right into summer!

Laura Geller Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator

Loft Vine Riviera Pants

Vine Riviera Pants, photo by
The Loft has been my go-to store for pants for years. I love them. They fit perfectly, the fabrics are a nice weight and I can usually catch them on sale. The Riviera pants, though, are my ultimate favorite. Fun fact - when you have short legs, you can wear capris like regular pants. And I do. I really do. My mom found these pants on a clearance rack at Loft a few weeks ago and I bought them thinking they would be fun. And they are, but they also go with a ton of stuff in my closet! 

DV Raven Sandals

DV Raven Sandals, photo by
Sometimes on my lunch hour, I take a therapeutic trip to Target. It's not always convenient (it's about a 20 minute drive from my office), but it's always worth this. This past week, I found these babies! I've been on the hunt for some brown flats. I have so many other colors, but not brown. And sometimes, you need brown. I had to size up a whole extra size to a 9.5 in these (I'm usually a 8.5). What made it even sweeter is that I had a Target Cartwheel reward that I turned in for $10 off apparel or shoes, so I got these guys for $15 when they are regularly $24.99!

Abbi Elegantees Top from the Let It Shine Collection
My blogger friend, Molly from Still Being Molly did a collaboration with another blogger and Elegantees called the Let It Shine Collection. Elegantees is an ethical fashion company where all of the clothes are made by woman rescued out of sex trafficking in Nepal. They are paid a fair wage with fair working hours. Buying clothing from this company is helping change people's lives, not just your wardrobe. Cool, huh? I purchased the Abbi top and immediately fell in love as soon as it arrived last week. I knew I would be styling and wearing it this week!

Here's how I put it all together!
Top: Abbi Top Elegantees Collection/ Capris: Loft Vine Riviera Pants/ Earrings: Premier Designs Full Bloom

Capris: Loft Vine Riviera Pants/ Shoes: Target DV Raven
I even enlisted the husband to help take some photos of my outfit. He's not a photographer and I am not always the most photogenic, but here's everything put together!

Happy Tuesday friends! What are some of your favorite finds this spring?!

*None of the links provided are affiliate links and I am not being compensated by any of the brands in this post. I just love them and thought I would share!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Lessons From My Mom

Sunday is Mother's Day and every blogger I know will have some post about their mom and/or Mother's Day. And why not? We love our mothers and it's only natural that we take time to honor them in the best way we know how - blogging about them! Some will post gift guides, some will post a letter to other mothers. Others, like me, will post what we have learned from our moms. And it's all good. All those posts are needed and read by many around the world. If I know my mom, the best gift I could give her is nothing tangible, nothing I can buy. It's to let her know that everything she's done was for a reason. That it worked. And that I get it.

Here's what I learned from Robin.

You can be whatever you want, but you have to work for it.
In my life, I have wanted to be many things: an author, a geneticist (weird, I know), a journalist, a publisher, a project manager. Who knows what it will be next. And whatever I have I wanted to do, sh's gone with it. She did what she could to give me every opportunity to make that dream happen. When I wanted to be a geneticist, she moved me from private school to public school where there was more funding in science. She gave me whatever I needed to accomplish what I wanted, but it was always up to me to get there. She's listened to many a meltdown and cheered at many softball games and graduations. I always knew I had her support, but it was also never a secret that she expected me to do the work.

Believe in yourself.
My mom has always believed in me enough for me and her, but always made sure that I believed in myself, too. She did this in the best way - she believed in herself. She went back to grad school in her fifties because that was the next step in her goals.

Math is important.
This one is particularly entertaining to me. As a writer and former English major, I have loathed math most of my life. I'm good at it, I just don't like it. Mom made sure that I took all the math I could in high school. Threatened to take my car and other things away if I didn't. She didn't have any control over what I did in college and grad school. She said that one day I would appreciate it. Before my recent title change at work, I was a Fiscal Program Accountant, so I think she knew what she was talking about.

Love hard and always strive to be the better friend.
I've heard her say, "They're mine" about someone many times. It usually is the reasoning for whatever she has done for that person. She's said it about her friends, family, students that she works with. If you are hers, she looks out for you and takes care of you. She will go to the ends of the earth for you. She has been Mamma D to many of my friends and even current students now. I want, and try, to be that person for my friends and family, too. I want to be the one that you know you can call and I'll be there. Because she is.

You're beautiful as you are.
This was never a question in my life, whether or not my mom thought I was beautiful. At my largest or my skinniest, weakest or strongest, she has always told me I was beautiful and I've never had a reason not to be believe her. She never hid food from me when I was chunky kid, never tried to put me on a diet. For a brief moment when I lost my mind and wanted to be in pageant (that last about 5 minutes by the way), she was ready to go. And because of that, even when I hit my highest weight last year, I still didn't question if I was beautiful. Because she had always told me I was, so I believed it.  

God is good.
I've watched my mom go through some hard situations. Work, family, losing parents, parents-in-law. Never once did she question God, did she lose faith. She just hunkered down and prayed harder. That came from her mom.

There are many other things I've learned from her. How to run in high heels. How to make chicken casserole and macaroni cheese. How to read music and find the alto part. How to be okay driving 12 hours by yourself with a kid to visit your family. How to find the good parts in crappy situations. I am very much my own person, but about 75% of my mouth and personality come from Robin. So today, I thank her for what she's taught me and hope that one day, I'm loved half as much as she is.

My favorite wedding shot of us. Photo by Carolina Media Star 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Shopaholic on a Budget: Surviving Taxes

I'm so excited for this post. Never did I think that I would be excited to write about budgeting, but here I am, all giddy to share this with you. We started our budget back in January. It's been rough, mostly on me, but this past month it paid off big time!

©  | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Whenever I hear those commercials about "it's refund season, what are you going to do with your refund?!" it makes me want to punch someone a little. Because we hardly ever get a refund. Ever. For the past few years, it was me that tipped us over the line of getting a refund, this year it was Aaron. He changed jobs in the middle of the year and it messed up our tax brackets. We owed, as usual, but we weren't expecting to owe $1,500 between CPA fees and taxes. It was rough, but with a little bit of planning and waiting, we have gotten back on track almost like the taxes didn't even happen.

Here's how we did it. We were very blessed and received an escrow check from our mortgage company. Normally we just put it in savings to help recover any loss from increased payments, but we used it to help pay off the taxes without having to dip into our savings. We were also blessed that taxes hit during the magical three-paycheck month. If you get paid bi-weekly, then you know and understand the magic of the three-paycheck month. It happens twice a year and, if you're like us and budget based on two paychecks a month, you essentially have a free paycheck. The downside is that you have to plan for it.

The third paycheck normally knocks our pay schedules off. Our paychecks end up hitting a few days after we need to pay bills. In the past, it's actually hurt us more than helped us because we weren't on a budget. We weren't paying attention to how we were spending the money and we ended up using it all before we even knew it! Then we were cutting it close on paying bills with the next paycheck. It just didn't work for us. But this time we planned! I mapped out our bills and spending from March to May. We stuck to our budget and didn't even touch the extra paycheck money until the first week of May, a whole month later. We let it sit in our checking account to help offset the difference in our pay and bill schedules. Then in May, the magic happened.

We just paid off our main credit card and put some extra money in savings. That's with paying for the hotel for a friend's wedding, buying both of us new clothes (yeah healthy weightloss!) and mulching the yard! At the end of this month, we'll be able to put our usual amounts towards debt payoff and savings and we'll be back on track like nothing ever happened. That's why you budget, people. Because you have the ability to react when big ticket problems happen and recover from them. Back before we started this budget, this would have crippled us for a few months. But with a little planning and sticking to a budget, we are back on track.

We did all this and still paid off a credit card and put some in savings!

Mulched our beds!

Celebrated our friend's wedding in New Bern, NC!
Thanks to our budget, we are back on track almost like $1,500 in taxes never even happened! Budgets suck. Trust me. The lack of regular material gain in my life is not fun and there are so many times I have sent pictures of items I want to a friend saying, "Tell me no!" But watching our savings grow  and debt shrink while still being able to do house projects and support our friends with their weddings and babies is pretty awesome. What have you been able to do because of your budget?!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cauli Beef Fried Rice

Confession time - we have eaten horribly lately. Nothing healthy has happened in the past few weeks. Life has been hectic and I have been lazy as a result. This week, though, I decided to be more intentional about the meals I made and food I bought. I bought good snacks (ie - no poptarts) and made sure that every meal I planned had a good amount of veggies in it! Here's to trying to get back on track during the month of crazy travel!

This past Sunday, I did a meal experiment and it turned out really well, so I thought I'd share it. I combined my beef and broccoli recipe with a cauliflower fried rice recipe. First off - it took me a whole 20 minutes to make this meal. That's always a win in my book! And it was low carb and lots of veggies! I can't say that it was Whole 30, gluten free or Paleo, but it was pretty close. Here we go!

I've struggled to find a cauliflower rice recipe that I actually enjoy and finally realized that I was shredding the cauliflower into pieces that were too small. When I cooked them, they were mushy and gross. Then I found Green Giant Cauliflower Crumbles in the produce section at Wal-Mart and it was love at first sight. The "rice" is the right size and I don't have to do any prep work! For this recipe, I used the Green Giant Cauliflower Crumbles Fried Rice mix.

Photo via
Start by making the beef mixture and broth mixture. I like to buy stir-fry meat at the grocery store. It's basically flank steak that has already been thinly sliced for you. Again, I'm all about less work in the kitchen! Place the meat in a mixing bowl and pour 1 tbsp of sherry and 1 tbsp of soy sauce over the meat. Stir together. Then make the sauce. I like to make this sauce in my glass one-cup liquid measuring cup (less dishes!). Stir together 1 tbsp sherry, 1 tbsp soy sauce (or coconut aminos if you're gluten free), beef broth, hoisin and Sriracha. Hold off on adding the cornstarch until later. 

Then make the fried rice. Heat a large saute pan to medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Dump in the whole bag of Fried Rice mix. 

Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder. You can also chop two garlic cloves and add them if you don't want to do garlic powder. Saute the "fried rice" for about 7-8 minutes, or until the veggies have softened. 

Push the veggies to the side of the pan, making whole in the middle. Add in one egg, lightly whisked. Scramble the egg once it begins to cook and then mix it into the "fried rice." Add in 1 tsp of toasted sesame oil and stir the mixture around to combine. Remove the fried rice from the pan to a separate bowl and cover to keep warm (or be like me and place in the microwave).

Finished "fried rice" with toasted sesame oil and egg added
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add in the beef mixture and brown the meat. 

Add the cornstarch to the broth mixture you made earlier and mix together to break up the cornstarch. Once the beef is browned, add the mixture to the pan. Heat until the mixture forms a luxurious brown sauce. 

Remove the pan before it overheats and gets too thick. To serve, spoon one cup of the fried rice mixture into a bowl and add the beef and the sauce. And enjoy!

I can also attest that this heats up well! I had the leftovers for lunch on Monday!

Cauliflower Beef Fried Rice

1 16-oz bag Green Giant Cauliflower Crumbles Fried Rice
1 lb. Stir Fry Meat (or flank steak thinly sliced)
1 egg, lightly whisked
2 tbsp dry sherry, divided
2 tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce (or coconut aminos if gluten free), divided
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 c beef broth (Rachel Ray is my favorite)
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp Sriracha

1. Prepare the meat. In a medium bowl, pour 1 tbsp sherry and 1 tbsp soy sauce over the meat. Set aside.
2. Prepare the saue. Mix together 1 tbsp sherry, 1 tbsp soy sauce, broth, hoisin and Sriracha.
3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Dump the fried rice mix into the pan and saute for 7-8 minutes.
4. Push the fried rice to the edge of the pan, making a whole in the middle. Pour in the lightly whisked egg and scramble as it cooks.  Mix in to the fried rice.
5. Add the garlic powder and toasted sesame oil and mix.  Remove the fried rice from the pan into a separate bowl. Cover and set aside.
6. Heat the remaining tsbp olive oil. Brown the meat on all sides.
7. Mix the corn starch into the sauce and pour into the pan. Stir around until it thickens. Remove the meat and sauce from heat to prevent drying out.
8. To serve, place 1 cup of the fried rice in a bowl and top with meat and sauce. Enjoy!

*this post was not sponsored by any of the brands mentioned, they are just the ones that I use!

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Day to Myself in New Bern

This past weekend we were in New Bern, North Carolina for a friend's wedding. Aaron was a bromaid, meaning he was in the wedding on the bride's side. The groom also had two girls on his side, so it worked. While Aaron did his bromaid thing, I spent the day exploring New Bern!

New Bern reminds me of a smaller Charleston. It's a super cute town on the water, but not at the beach, with lots of history. We parked our car at the hotel and we didn't move it the rest of the weekend until we left. I literally walked everywhere on Saturday.

Saturday was a beautiful day. If there is anything that I love, it's being left alone to explore a small town by myself. Especially if there's some touristy stuff to do. Aaron doesn't always enjoy the touristy and historic things, so it's nice to not have to subject him to them.

I started by touring Tryon Palace. It's not really a palace like you would think, you know turrets and all. But it was the state's first permanent capitol. It burned down to its foundation and then was restored in the 1950's. The stable building was the only one that survived.

Did you know that your travels don't actually count if there isn't a photo with your head in it? It's true.

What I thought was super cool was that five ladies restored the house. They used original plans for the house and rebuilt it on the original foundation. They found lists of items that former Governors' had in the home and used that to furnish the house.

For example, one Governor had a list of over 450 volumes by name and edition that were in the library at one time. The ladies were able to recover almost all of the books, so most of the books that are now in the library are the same titles and editions that were once there. Cool, right? Well, at least it is to me.

I also thought it was cool to see the rooms where the first General Assembly meetings were held. I'm a geek, I know. 

The gardens were gorgeous. There weren't super flowery like the gardens at Biltmore, but much more greenery and plants native to Eastern North Carolina. 

And any trip to a historic place in NC isn't complete without one cannon photo!

As I said above, the stable building is the only original building on the site, but the workmanship on the wood inside is amazing. It still looks brand new!

I spent most of my morning at Tryon Palace and using my day pass. I was also able to tour two historic homes as part of my pass. There was also a Civil War house, but when I went, the door was locked. 

For lunch, I stopped by MJ's Raw Bar. The sweet tea was some of the best I have ever had and I consider myself a sweet tea connoisseur! You know how some sweet tea can have a bitter taste? This one didn't, just smoothly and perfectly sweet. I ordered a soft shell crab sandwich. And this is what I got.

So, if you've never had a soft shell crab sandwich (which I hadn't), you get a whole crab. Like eating Sebastian (you know, Little Mermaid). I had to google it. Apparently, you eat the whole thing. So I did. It was easier once I put the bun on top and didn't have to see Sebastian. However, a leg poked out once in a while. I tried not to think about it. 

After lunch, I headed back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding. I didn't get many photos at the wedding, because they had a sign asking people not to take photos. I requested the same at mine. So I obliged...except when they handed Aaron a bouquet. That I had to document.

He's such a handsome bromaid! We had so much fun at the wedding! I didn't know anyone at the wedding besides Aaron and Joylynn (the bride), but everyone there was so nice! Normally, I pretty much suck at making new friends. That's Aaron's job in our marriage, not mine. But I was at a table by myself and he was at the head table. I loved everyone that I got to sit with and we made friends with all the bridesmaids.  It was honestly one of my favorite weddings.

Congrats to Joylynn and Jared! Thanks for a reason to spend some time in New Bern! I'll be back down there later in the month for a conference. I've already scoped out my next places to check out while I'm there.