Blessed to Have Them

    I was always an extremely blessed child when it came to grandparents. I grew up to know six great grandparents and seven grandparents. One set of grandparents got divorced and my grandma remarried before I was a born giving me another grandpa. Grandparents Day at school I always had an abundance of them seated next to me. They all are special and treat me special in their own way and I thank God to still have so many still alive and well. Scarlett has a set of great great grandparents that are still with us!

    I thought my cup had runeth over, but then I met Devin. After dating for a short time, he introduced me to his grandparents and it was love at first site.

    First I feel like everyone needs to know a little of their back story. G & G Sandrock are two of the hardest working people I have ever met. Grandpa is in his mid 80s and still is out every morning farming. Grandma is a devoted farmer’s wife helping him and also working a cafeteria job at the local high school where all the kids call her Grandma. They raised three kids and have been a huge support system to all of their grandkids. They have known great loss losing important family members and have got through everything as a strong loving couple.

    If you were to look up grandma in the dictionary. Grandma Sandrock would be the example listed. When you go to visit she doesn’t let you leave without a full belly of desserts. She loves her kids, grandkids, and great grandkids with all her heart. She is the first to help anyone in need. In her early 80s she is still on the floor playing with Scarlett and all her cousins. She’s loving, supportive,  and the best example of a wife out there. She takes care of Grandpa better than any human can take care of someone.

    Since I was a little girl I always connected on a higher level with males. I’m a daddy’s girl, my grandpa is my best friend, and I preferred to hang out with my brother and his friends over my own. It’s no different with Grandpa Sandrock. We immediately became buds. He is the most precious human being on this planet and in the seven years I have come to know him I love him more every time I talk to him. He loves his family dearly. He cries at every sporting or musical event his grandkids are apart of, because he is so proud to be their grandpa. He’s the only man in the world I will let call my daughter Rosie (it only fits her when he uses it). He picks on Grandma relentlessly, but you know the amount of love he has for her is deep. I will never forget when he said “if I could pick any girl for one of my grandsons it would be you”. Grandpa and I could talk for hours and we have before, to the point Grandma and Devin let us be to socialize alone together one time when they had us over for dinner.

    I tell Devin every time we leave from visiting them that they are the reason I married him. It’s not a lie. It’s not the only reason. But it is definitely one of them. They are both so special and every person who knows them knows the truth. I have no other reason to be writing this other than to share how truly special I think these two individuals are. They have never made me feel like anything less than family. I’m not an in-law to them by any means. I  have an amazing family and I married into an amazing family. Meaning I am such a blessed woman.


    Scarlett’s Unicorn Day

     This lady pictured above is Scarlett’s beautiful Meemaw and the reason I throw Scarlett such elaborate parties. Thanks a lot mom!!!  I’ve already decided I am going to scale down a bit next year because of the cost to throw such a bash. My mom never spared any expense with my parties, and I remember every single one of them. I wanted to do the same for Scarlett, but I think Scarlett would be just as happy with a couple balloons and calling it a day.

    When throwing a magical unicorn birthday party, it takes a stable of unicorns to be able to pull it off. Devin’s sweet grandparents supplied the facility of their actual “unicorn” (horse) farm. Both our parents helped supply food and assistance. Scarlett’s Auntie Ivonne helped decorate. And two very special cousin’s helped with the cake and unicorn crowns.

    My cousin is absolutely amazing. She created this unicorn cake and it not only looked better than I could ever imagine it tasted insanely good as well. She made a funfetti cake and it was so stinking dense and you’d think it would be dry from being so dense, but it wasn’t at all! She’s got mad skills and was the talk of the party the next day. You can find her here. She has an adorable blog and hopefully she’ll post more sweets that she does!

    Devin’s cousin made these and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. She made Scarlett’s crown that she’s wearing above and made all these for the girls that attended the party. I overshot so most of the adults wore them too. She is super talented as well and I think she should start up an Etsy account today and sell these for people.

    We are so extremely blessed with amazingly talented family that it’s so helpful when I get too big for my britches.

    Scarlett’s party was magical! But like I said Scarlett could care less. During present time she opened her present from her aunt and uncle which happened to be a Trolls book and she was done. I had to open every single present after that. She got so much stuff that I think we may have to buy a new house just to fit it all.

    I did a taco bar for food and a rainbow fruit tray and that was it. I tried to keep it simple and it was delicious. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, which made me extremely happy!

    The weather was beautiful and the day couldn’t of been more perfect. So thank you to her wonderful friends and family. I can’t believe my little unicorn is two!


    Water Park Days

    It’s been a few years since I was at a legit water park.   We recently took a family vacation to a resort that had one, but I don’t really think it qualified as a legit park. Scarlett loved it either way, so we decided for her birthday we would take her to an actual water park. How is it that we are already coming up on her second birthday?

    Let me just say this, family time is wonderful. But doing this kind of thing is so much better going with another family. We went to the water park with my brother, sister-in-law, and one of my nieces. We always had two people entertaining the girls and us parents had our own fun separate from the enjoyment we have by watching our girls have fun. My sister-in-law and I were partners and we did all the tube rides together and one body slide. My brother and Devin did a slide and Devin did a scary ride that the platform drops and you drop straight down and curves back up. We all did the lazy river together and both girls loved it. My niece lasted longer and my brother and sister-in-law were able to relax one extra trip than us. Scarlett was ready for the next thing. We moved onto the wave pool, which was probably Scarlett’s favorite thing there.

    She had so much fun and only got a little crabby a few times. Mostly when we stopped her from doing things she wasn’t supposed to do. She’s a water baby that is for sure.

    Scarlett’s birthday is a week away and her birthday party is the day after so, so much excitement is coming her way summerfun


    Smoked Chicken Stock

    The bar/restaurant I work for does Thursday night cookouts during the summer. We have done brisket, pulled pork, steak sandwiches, etc… It’s so hard to gage how much to prepare for the masses, because every week is so different.

    We recently did smoked chickens and had about fifteen halves leftover. So I came into work and shredded it all to use for tacos and made chicken salad out of it, which was delicious, if anyone was curious.

    There was so many bones left over I felt there had to be a better use then to throw all of them away. Then a light bulb went off. We are eventually going to be making soups in the winter, so why not make a stock out the bones!

    I had left over celery from the chicken salad, had onions, leftover carrots from something else, garlic, and all the spices so I went to work making a delicious stock.

     I heated my Le Creuset dutch oven with a little bit of olive oil and threw in quartered onions, skin and all in. Then added celery, leaves and all. Next was carrots and garlic. I used parsley, oregano, thyme (aka the best smelling spice known to man), salt, and pepper. I cooked it down until the onions were browned a bit.

    I added the bones in and let that cook down a bit before I added the water. I basically filled it up to the top.

    I brought the liquid to a boil and then dropped the heat and let it simmer for really as long as I wanted. I’d say I did about an hour, but I don’t think you can really over do it.

    Then I just strained everything making sure to only get the pure liquid gold. Let me tell you it was money! The smoked chicken added a whole other depth of flavor  and it was the best flavored stock I’ve ever tasted.I  can’t wait to incorporate it into soups!


    That Mom

    I love when people use the term or say “oh, you’re that mom.” I totally am “that mom”, because it can be used in so many different forms.

    I’m that mom that makes her sweet husband and daughter get ready and take family photos once a year in the dead of summer with extreme heat and a cesspool of mosquitos. But I am that mom that wants to be able to have photographs of all the stages of my children’s life and my marriage. I am a big fan of candids and take hundreds of them a month, but I also really like professional, because candids show the silliness and love of a family, but professional, well is exactly that– professional.


    I’m that mom that spends countless hours planning the perfect birthday party for her child, which I will be telling you all about it in a couple weeks. But my mother always put together the best birthdays and I remember every single one of them fondly. I wanted the same for my kids. My husband doesn’t understand the pressure I put on myself or why I spend the amount of money on it that we can’t really afford. But I want my daughter to feel special, and I’m not saying someone needs to throw a huge party to achieve that. But my mother did and as a kid I loved it. I also just thoroughly enjoy throwing parties, I love to decorate and love to cook food for these events. I also love seeing the enjoyment had from not only Scarlett, but her friends and family too.

    I’m that mom when the first time Scarlett fell and bled I cried more than she did. As parents we absolutely hate to see our children in pain and I am no exception to the rule. I was bad at the beginning, but we noticed the more we reacted the more she felt the need to react, so now we celebrate and clap when she falls to hopefully save  her from some tears.

    On the other side of the spectrum I am also that mom who doesn’t care if Scarlett gets dirty or grabs a pacifier that fell on the floor and puts it in her mouth. I’ve never cared about putting bibs on, because in reality she will get dirty no matter what kind of bib she wears to prevent it. And sure when I was a new mom I was a freak about germs, but I now know there is no use in trying to always have a clean paci or whatever, because I have already caught her voluntarily putting disgusting things in her mouth, that a clean paci is the least of my worries. I mean germs are good to help build a healthy immune system, right?

    I’m that mom that quit her part time night job, which we need because I couldn’t stand being away from both my husband and child and missing out on dinner and bedtime. I will now be working a full-time day job and see her less, so my thinking really isn’t smart. But I’d rather work when my husband works and miss out on one on one time with Scarlett, then miss out on time spent as a whole family.

    I am that mom that no matter what kind of silly quirks I do I can only hope I am building lasting memories for my child so that she can look back on it and know she had the best childhood ever, whether it be a family vacation we can’t afford or sitting at home watching music videos on Youtube.

    And if you are the opposite of me in all of the things I listed above, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I truly believe if your child is happy, healthy, and knows love there is no wrong way to be “that mom”.


    Low Carb Poke Bowl

    Sushi has been a love of mine since I was thirteen and my parents took the family to Turks & Caicos and we stayed at Sandals Resort. They had a sushi bar there and my dad and me ate our way through all of the different rolls they had. Being from a small town we never had a sushi restaurant until I was about sixteen, now we have three. Big stuff I know. Sushi is by far my favorite food on this green Earth. When I found out there was such a thing as basically a deconstructed sushi roll in a bowl I had to find one.

    We found out that the closest Poke restaurant was in Chicago. So we drove there for one of our anniversaries and then we went back for my birthday. It’s called Aloha Poke and we went to the Lakeview location because it was the only one open on our Sunday Fundays.  If anyone is in the area and wants to try it out let me know if you go and what you think.

    A poke bowl starts with a base, usually white rice, brown rice, or mixed greens. To make a Poke bowl low carb you could go the mixed greens route. But I really wasn’t feeling greens, so I decided to do cauliflower rice as my base. I just got a frozen bag of it, because I knew my prep time was already going to be too much for the small amount of time that I have on a Tuesday night.

    Next step is the sushi grade fish. At Aloha Poke you can get salmon, ahi tuna, or even tofu if you are Vegan or vegetarian. But since I live in a place where my choice of fresh fish is catfish. I decided to go the frozen shrimp route. I thawed them, boiled them in a pot than refrigerated them. Aloha Poke gives you the option of either having the fish marinated in a delicious soy marinade or “naked”. I get the marinade and my husband gets the fish “naked”. I recreated my own with coconut aminos, rice vinegar, Siracha, and lime juice. Since cooked shrimp doesn’t hold a marinade like raw tuna I just poured it over both the rice and shrimp.

    Next is the toppings. This is where you can really make it customizable. At Aloha I usually do edamame, green onion, seaweed salad, pineapple, cucumber, tobiko, ginger, and avocado. At home I got Walmart’s version of tobiko (red and black caviar), avocado, ginger, cucumber, seaweed salad (that I had to drive 45 minutes to find), and green onion. I could of done edamame and pineapple too, but they aren’t on the low carb plan and Devin doesn’t like edamame anyway, so I was trying to save money. The only thing I would omit if you are strict on Keto and don’t want to risk being kicked out of ketosis is the seaweed salad. Because it was a store bought kind and I believe it has some sugar content in it. But I love it so i had a little cheat added to mine.

    Then you top it with some yummy sauces. At Aloha I do spicy mayo, their version of unagi sauce, and wasabi. At home I just made spicy mayo. I definitely missed my unagi sauce, but still was very much enjoying it.

    A bonus add was some spicy crab mix. This I would also only add a very little amount. Because imitation crab is high in carb.

    All and all you make it to your liking. Omit things that are too high in carbs or add things that sound good to you. I’m not sure on the exact carb amount I did it in my Cronometer app, but wasn’t precise in the measurements so on the safe side I would say 12-15 g of carbs. This meal should probably be ate if you had very low carb meals beforehand.




    My Take on Keto + Intermittent Fasting


    Most people who have stumbled across this post most likely know what the Ketogenic Diet and Intermittent Fasting are. But before I go into my own introduction of the two let me briefly explain what they are.
    The short condensed version (mostly because I don’t think I’m the most qualified to give a thorough explanation of it) is it’s a very low carb high fat diet and little to no sugar diet. People who do Keto usually eat a lot of meat, cheeses, healthy fats, and lower carb veggies. This isn’t the case for all because there is a dairy free version, I’m sure a Vegan version, etc…
    There are a couple versions of Intermittent Fasting as well. But I do the variation of eating in an 8 hour window then fasting the remaining sixteen hours of the day. On fasting periods the only thing they really recommend eating or drinking is water (which is very important no matter what diet or lifestyle you are living) Black coffee is acceptable too, but I have also read articles to debunk that. Then I basically break my fast at noon, again at three, and again around six or seven. More times than not my noon meal fills me enough that I am good till my last meal of the night.

    The reason I chose to do these diets were because for one I was recently diagnosed with celiacs disease. Which has made me naturally low carb, since I can’t eat a lot of those carby foods like pasta and bread AKA life. Also the Keto diet was more family friendly with my husband. He never liked the foods I had to eat when trying other diets so my grocery bill and sanity ran a lot higher because I had to make two separate meals. But on Keto he’s happy since he’s a simple guy with simple taste.
    My brother introduced me awhile ago to Intermittent Fasting and I thought he was crazy until I realized I naturally did that. I NEVER eat breakfast. Sometimes I will get into smoothie kicks, but they never last too terribly long. I am never hungry until later in the afternoon. My downfall is the evening, when I go into extreme munchie mood.

    So basically after a little research and hearing some friends rave about Keto I dove in and wanted to try Intermittent with it because they are often done together. I did the Whole 30 Diet once and literally lasted 4 days before I said EFF this. I thought this was going to be similar. I thought cravings would be terrible and I’d be ravenous through out the day. I was happy to find out I wasn’t experiencing either of those things. I found good healthy substitutes for the cravings and I actually was eating under my caloric recommendation but was completely full, it’s those healthy fats baby! My first three weeks I didn’t cheat once on purpose…there was a couple accidents though. I was down thirteen pounds in the first three weeks. Which has never happened on a diet I have tried. I had more energy. I was happy. I wasn’t a scatterbrained mom. And lastly I was motivated to continue going.

    But then the Fourth of July weekend happened with my birthday week exactly a week later. Scarlett and I went to St. Louis to visit my grandparents and even though I had every intentions of staying Keto it was impossible. Then my birthday I decided since I was already off of it I wasn’t going to stress over it during all the family celebrations. But I finally came to a realization. The unhealthy foods were causing me to go into some kind of depression. I was literally so unhappy and had no reason to be. So my only conclusion was the terrible food I had been eating.
    I am officially back into the diet. I am so excited to see where it goes. The goal is forty pounds. I really enjoy this lifestyle and I’m on the fence about keeping it as a permanent lifestyle change or altering it a bit. I’ll let you know when I lose that goal forty!


    Mama’s Little Girl

    Since the day our sweet Scarlett Rose was born she has been a daddy’s girl through and through. Speaking from the perspective of a daddy’s girl myself, there is no better enjoyment to watch the bond my two peas in a pod share. Daddy hits Scarlett with a “Last Ride” (WWE wrestling move) into a bean bag and there is giddy giggles bursting out of her little body. They play together 24/7, whether it be Devin tossing her around or it be chasing her tirelessly through the house. But they also have their night time routine of snuggles, bath-time, & bed.

    Devin has been putting Scarlett to bed since the very beginning. I get the morning snuggles and daytime hours and he gets the night time hours and bedtime snuggles. It’s what has been a comfortable routine between us with her. I of course still kiss her goodnight but Devin is the last one she sees when she goes to bed. Scarlett has one hands on daddy.

    She’s obsessed with him. When he’s home, she wants nothing to do with me. She wants daddy’s undivided attention and can actually be a little tyrant when his attention isn’t solely focused on her. When Monday rolls around or even worse when we have a three or four day weekend, it’s hell getting her back into the routine of not having daddy around for the full day.

    It never really upset me. For one I knew the attention was deserved. Scarlett is Devin’s whole world and he is hers. Of course she is mine as well, but there isn’t a bond more special than a father and his baby girl. Devin is also the fun parent, I’ll be the bigger person and admit that. But after awhile it was starting to really bother me. She was getting so attached to him that she would scream or cry or even hit me when I attempted to take her from him. I was starting to get a little hurt and a slight complex.

    But then something just clicked in her. She is almost 2 years old and she just now started saying “mama” regularly. And now she says it in times of distress and when she needs me. I never thought hearing my child yell and scream “mama” could sound like music to my ears. She is starting to not immediately go to dad when he gets home from work. She makes sure to stay cuddling me for a bit longer. She reaches for me, loves on me, kisses and hugs me, which she used to do all that before but not when daddy was around.

    Just today I got emotional talking to some family members and she was sitting on my lap. She saw my tears and asked me “okay?”. She then proceeded to catch my tear drops and then lick them. How does a child of her age, know that her mama was upset?

    Even her everyday things as she is growing and becoming more verbal are precious to me. Like how can I resist when she cups my face with her hands, gives me her toothy cheesy grin and just simply says “hi”.

    Being her mama is the biggest blessing and I’m so happy she’s a daddy’s girl. But now I can finally say I think she’s a mama’s girl too!


    Smokin’ Chix

    The dream has always been to open up a smokehouse or food truck and name it Smokin’ Chix. I may never achieve that dream, but I have a little slice of my dream working for the bar I am at. We aren’t totally operational yet. The kitchen is under construction. But every Thursday we come up with a cookout idea to serve the masses. My boss, just recently got the bar a smoker and we came up with a good old fashion cook off. I won’t tell you who won ;).

    On the menu was smoked brisket and mac & cheese. I can’t share my secret rub. For one it’s THE best rub I have ever tried and I can’t give away that secret for anything. But, also it’s one of those family secret recipes, that my dad would personally murder me if I gave away a family trademark (figuratively, not literally–I hope).

    I started my prep by generously rubbing my spice rub over the brisket and I always let it sit overnight. 

    For the mac and cheese I used four kinds of cheese: cream cheese, Gouda, Parmesan, and cheddar. I will admit I made the cheese sauce for only four pounds of noodles, but I made six. So in the end it was a little dry. But I am humble enough to admit my faults.

    I’m not a fan of flour roux’s. It may be my skill level, but I can’t quite get the texture right. So next time I try this I think I will be doing a cornstarch flurry instead to thicken the sauce.

    Once the noodles were cooked and my sauce finished. I combined everything into a aluminum tin. The plan was to smoke it for an hour to give it a smokey flavor, but unfortunately that didn’t go as plan. We didn’t have room for it in the smoker, so we put it on top of the coals and wood. He did get the smoke infused into the flavor, but the high heat charred it a little too much.

    (pre smoker)

    My boss took over with the smoking and the juiciness and flavor of mine was exactly what I wanted. So thanks to him for smoking it well.

    In the end the night was a huge success and was our best night yet!