Recipe: Marion Cunningham’s Snappy Ginger Snaps

IMG_5642Graham will be home soon. So soon. And I’m starting to prepare for it. The more tedious preparations involve cleaning the apartment from top to bottom. The more fun preparations involve planning out the delicious things I can’t wait to make for him.

The one thing he was requested, besides his homecoming dinner at Texas Roadhouse, is a pumpkin cheesecake. And my pumpkin cheesecake calls for a gingersnap crust. I had the urge to bake the other night, and after flipping through my copy of Marion Cunningham’s Learning to Cook, I decided to make homemade gingersnaps. IMG_5639 After I made these, I decided there was no way that I could throw these in a food processor and crumble them up to make a crust. These are by far the best gingersnaps I’ve ever had. They’re crispy, but slightly chewy. They have the perfect spicy, gingery flavor. I could easily eat all 34 cookies in one sitting. IMG_5641

Marion Cunningham’s Snappy Gingersnaps

  • 3/4 cup of Crisco (or any solid shortening)
  • 1 cup of sugar, plus 1/3 cup more to roll cookies in)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of dark molasses
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. of baking soda
  • 1/2 t. of salt
  • 1 T. of ground ginger
  • 1 t. of cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream together the shortening, 1 cup of sugar, egg & molasses, until smooth & well mixed.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger & cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet & mix well.
  4. Pour the remaining sugar to a plate, or on a sheet of parchment. Scoop up a rounded teaspoon of dough, and roll into a ball. Roll the dough ball into the sugar, and place on an ungreased baking sheet (mine was lined with a silicone baking mat). Place dough balls 2 inches apart (do not flatten them out).
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Once out of the oven, leave them on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, before moving them to a cooling rack.




I’m never eating rice again. (Deployment Diaries #… It feels like 728.)

So this weekend was a busy one. For the most part it was a lot of fun, but it was also exhausting. My greatest accomplishment was finally moving two blankets from the washer to the dryer. I first washed them last Saturday… And the timing never worked out to move them to the dryer. It seemed I always remembered at around 11:00pm, and out of respect for my downstairs neighbors, I didn’t feel that was an appropriate time to turn on the drier. So, I ended up washing them 5 times, before I finally got my act together yesterday.

Anyways. Saturday was a good day. Last month, Shana moved home to PA while her husband is in Florida for school. She’s not far from Gettysburg, so Saturday Sarah and I took a day trip up there for a quick visit. It was so good to see Shana, and we had such a good time. My calves are still sore from all of the climbing. 2015-09-26 15.04.58-12015-09-26 17.10.15-12015-09-26 17.37.40-12015-09-26 18.12.20-1If you ever have the chance to visit Gettysburg, you absolutely should. Even if you’re not a history buff. It is unbelievably beautiful there. Depending on traffic, it’s less than four hours from Newport News, and other than their lack of good restaurants (when it came time for dinner, I just wanted to be back in the city!), it’s a really nice day trip. I can’t wait to take Graham up there when he gets home. Hopefully the leaves will still be changing…

Sunday was a little sad. Our good friends have decided to take a break from Le Mu for a little while. I’m sadder about this than I probably should be. There is a serious lack of quality food in this area, and Sav’s food is some of the best there is, and I hate that Le Mu is no longer a weekly dining option.

So, Sunday was their last weekly dinner, so some friends and I went. I was there on the first night, and I had to be there on the last night. And the food was AMAZING. I had a red curry chicken pot pie, with puff pastry…
IMG_5594… and red bean and coconut bread pudding with ginger whipped cream and salted caramel.
IMG_5622However, this might make it easier to lose weight… I’ve been helping them with their social media, and every week before opening they had a family meeting, where we would all taste the food…

They will continue to pop up around the area though, at local food events. If you’re local, you should check them out at O’Connor Brewing on October 9th. Southern Grit, a local food magazine is featuring them in their October issue, and they will be serving food at the magazine launch party. It should be a fun night!


Sunday was also frustrating. I came home from running errands, and found that Hermione had eaten two pounds of dry, white rice. After the dry grits fiasco of a few weeks ago, I can imagine that she felt miserable. She probably felt worse that I locked her in the bathroom every time I left the apartment… Once I was home for good, I moved some pillows and blankets to the floor, so I could cuddle with her, before locking her up for the night. I absolutely HATE it when my sweet girl doesn’t feel good (even if it’s her own fault…)
2015-09-27 23.28.00-1Yesterday, between hourly bathroom breaks for Hermione, I decided I just couldn’t wait until October 1 to start decorating for fall. I went to Trader Joe’s to buy some maple walnut blondies to bring to my BFF in Charlotte this weekend (and a few packs for my freezer…) and I couldn’t resist the mini pumpkins ($0.69 each), the pumpkin pie spice cookie butter (holy eff!) or a jar of pumpkin butter (I hear it’s really good mixed with peanut butter and used as a dip for apples). 
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So excited about Zoë’s Kitchen!

There is a new shopping center opening up two miles from my apartment. Literally two miles (I checked). It’s being anchored by Whole Foods, which in & of itself is enough to make he angels sing, but as new stores and restaurants are announced, I fall more and more in love. One of the reasons I’m so excited about this shopping center is the opening of Zoë’s Kitchen.

2015-09-24 11.34.50-1I’ve loved this place for ages, but we’ve never lived close to one. Now I have one literally two miles away. That could be a dangerous thing with some restaurants, but when I met with their manager for lunch last week, I learned he’s actually LOST weight since being with the company. 2015-09-18 14.11.30I was invited by their manager to come have lunch, and to learn more about what Zoë’s is all about. And what I learned was impressive.

    • Nearly EVERYTHING is made on site. They have a walk-in refrigerator, but their freezer is no larger than what we have in our own homes, and mostly just stores the pita. Other than the pita, everything is made in house. EVERYTHING. That delicious, tempting chocolate cake stacked by the register (that’s cruel to a someone dieting, btw ;)) is made from scratch in the restaurant. The manager showed me the kitchen, and I saw cans of chickpeas & containers of tahini for house made hummus
    • They get shipments of fresh produce 4 times a week, to ensure that everything is fresh & delicious. They do use dried herbs, but honestly, so do I.
    • The food is made to order. When the kitchen door was opened, I saw staff skewering the fresh veggies for kabobs.
    • They are very accommodating to dietary issues. Whether you’re counting calories, or have dietary restrictions, they have plenty of things for you to choose from. That was probably what impressed me the most. Instead of being limited to a salad (which seems to be the only gluten free option at most places), they have a HUGE list of dishes that are gluten free. And they have a HUGE list of menu items that are less than 500 calories.
      2015-09-18 14.14.46-1
      I’m so excited to have Zoë’s Kitchen so close now. This area is really growing, and I’m so glad that there is now a healthier option for those nights where I just do not feel like cooking.

2015-09-24 11.29.55If you’re in Hampton Roads, and have been living under a rock, this new shopping center is at the intersection of Jefferson & Oyster Point, and it’s absolutely beautiful! If you’re not in this area, check out their store locator to find the location nearest you.

Deployment Diaries #… Is he seriously not home yet???

Kids all over Hampton Roads went back to school yesterday. I was right there with their parents, breathing a huge sigh of relief. The world was a more beautiful place yesterday. The line at Chick-Fil-A was non-existent. And my walk with Hermione looked like this.: 2015-09-08 17.44.39-1It was perfect. There were a few people on the beach… I’ll round up, and say five. There were a few other people out walking their dogs. It was humid, but not too hot. And Hermione and I walked three peaceful, perfect miles.

The official first day of fall isn’t until September 23, but for me, fall starts the day after Labor Day. I had no desire to walk Hermione yesterday. It was so humid. I was so tired. But I was also so excited to see my favorite place in Virginia once again deserted. The parking lots were empty, the beaches were quiet, and it was just me, Hermione, and my thoughts.

I love fall. I always have. Hands down, it’s my favorite season. I love the cooler temperatures, scarves, sweaters, and boots. I love pumpkin flavored baked goods, and pots of simmering chili. I love the colors, and the crunch of the leaves. I love it all. But more than anything, I love that fall is OUR season. It’s typically been a season that has been very good to G & I. He’s returned home from two (soon to be three!) deployments in October/November. We got engaged in October. We’ve taken fun vacations, beautiful hikes, and spent as much time together as possible. We walk Hermione constantly in the fall… He’s not whining that it’s too cold, and I’m not whining that it’s too hot. It’s the perfect time of the year. 2015-09-08 18.18.35-1Walking Hermione yesterday, I felt very thankful that I survived the summer. Silly, I know… Everyone one else counts down the days till summer, and I’m just grateful to survive it in one piece. Walking with my favorite dog, letting her swim, and watching her chase small, furry creatures… I felt so content. I felt happy. I felt like this quiet, peaceful, perfect walk, in my favorite place, was my reward for surviving the heat and the chaos of a southern summer. I thought about this a lot while we walked. I normally don’t get to think that much on our walks. Hermione isn’t good with people, so on a busy day, I’m constantly focused on her, and the people around us. But yesterday I had the opportunity to do a lot of thinking. About summer. About all of the things I was looking forward to with fall. And I thought a lot about how things were changing . And things will continue to change once G gets home. I’m excited about that. And nervous about that.

While I’m so glad summer is over, I’m also so thankful that it’s been such a good one. Surprisingly, it’s been one of the best summers of my life. Full of long days in the pool with friends (when it’s been too hot to do anything else), countless hours of dog parties in the dog park, girls nights, too many jello shots, sushi dinners, visits from my favorites in Charlotte, and so much personal growth. This summer was unlike any I’ve ever had, and seeing it go is much more bittersweet than I anticipated.

Friends have/are moving. We’re moving. Friends are having babies. We’re buying a house… Our house in Arkansas was our first house as a couple, but this house will be the first we buy together (to be honest, after car shopping, I am NOT looking forward to house shopping with G)… Change is coming, and while some of these changes are fun & exciting, others are sad & so scary.

My mind is still going a 1,000 miles a minute. So, while I try to wrap my head around all of my thoughts, I’m just going to sit here and enjoy my first pumpkin doughnut of the season.

2015-09-08 18.54.06-1Happy fall, y’all.


Recipe: “Hawaiian” Pizza with Kayem’s Pineapple & Bacon Sausage

2015-09-05 01.52.29-1A couple of weeks ago, I received the best care package from the people over at Kayem. They sent me a few varieties of their artisan sausages to try. These sausages are fully-cooked and made with premium cuts of pork sirloin blended with natural ingredients. Each package boasts simple, natural ingredients, and the sausages are MSG free, and gluten free.

They sent me three packages, and while all three were delicious, I was the most excited about the pineapple. I was tempted just to skewer these with some fresh pineapple and some peppers and onions, but my husband suggested making a Hawaiian style pizza, using the sausage in place of ham.
2015-09-05 01.24.33These sausages are fully cooked, so you could just slice them, and throw them on a pizza as is, but I crisped mine up first by thinly slicing them and throwing them in a skillet for a few minutes. The sugar in the sausage helped them crisp up & caramelize quickly. One thing that was a pleasant surprise was how well these stayed together when cut. Some of the brands of sausage I’ve used in the past have had ingredients falling out of the slices, leaving me with flavorless sausage and a messy pan. 2015-09-05 01.25.07These sausages (and other Kayem products) are easily accessible, and can now be found at Harris Teeter grocery stores. Their other flavors include Andouille, Fire Roasted Pepper Jack, Sweet Pepper Provolone & Sweet Sausage. They do include sugar, so they’re not whole30 compliant (I’m still looking for more options that are), but they’re really delicious. 2015-09-05 01.25.41Now, for this pizza recipe.

Y’all. This was good. Really, really good. And this is coming from a girl who isn’t a big fan of BBQ sauce. This roasted garlic & sriracha BBQ sauce from Trader Joe’s is really good. And the flavor was perfect on this pizza. All of the flavors of this went together so perfectly. It was just the right combination of sweet & spicy.

Hawaiian” Pizza with Kayem’s Pineapple & Bacon Sausage


  • 1 ball of pizza dough
  • 2 links of Kayem’s Pineapple & uncured bacon sausage; thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pineapple
  • 1 small jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese (1.5 – 2 cups)
  • BBQ sauce (1/4 – 1/2 cup)
  • Cilantro (optional)
  • 1 T. of olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to whatever temperature you need for your dough.
  2. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and ass the sausage. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the sausage is a heated through, and slightly charred on the edges.
  3. Roll out the pizza dough, and then add your toppings, except the cilantro.
  4. Bake according to your dough’s directions.  Once finished baking, turn the broiler on high for just a minute (seriously – keep the oven door open, and keep an eye on it), to let the top get a little extra golden & bubbly.
  5. Garnish with chopped cilantro (if you like), and serve.

And since I didn’t want to make this the longest post ever, check back with me next week. I have another recipe I made with the fire roasted pepper jack sausages to share… So. Good.

(I received the three packs of sausage complimentary for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.)

Deployment Diaries #… who knows, anymore.

Is this deployment seriously not over yet? Ugh.

We’ve been in the double digits for a while, and by Friday that first digit will have dropped again, and our percentage of time remaining will move into the 20% range. Yay!

Anyways. Labor Day will be here soon, and that’s pretty much the end of summer (thank God!), so I thought it was time to revisit my deployment bucket list, and see how I’ve been doing.

  1. Change up my hair. DONE, and DONE. I went blonde very early in the deployment, but a couple of weeks ago I had Tabby chop off about four inches and take it even blonder. I’m ready for it to grow out a liiiiiittttttle bit more, but I love the color!


2. Successfully complete a Whole30. DONE. Although, apparently I’ve lost my mind, because I’m considering doing another one. My eating habits have been horrible lately, and I’ve consumed more alcohol in the past month than I have in the rest of my 32 years COMBINED. I really feel like I need to reset my system. I’m still thinking about it, but I’m not going to take the plunge until I’ve committed to it 100%.

3. Lose 30 lbs. Um…

4. Continue to be social. YES. Hands down, this has been the most social summer of my life! Friday night, Sarah & I hosted a going away party for Shana & Elliott. All of our Radius friends came, and we had a really fun night. Too much fun (Courtney made amazing Jell-O shots…). Hence considering another Whole30 on Saturday morning….

2015-08-21 18.45.49-1

Cosmopolitan Jell-O Shots

2015-08-21 18.46.12-1

Butterbeer Jello-O Shots

2015-08-22 14.21.11

5.Purge my closet. Yep. I have a bunch of stuff I’m trying to get rid of, so if anyone wants to buy capris or chinos in a size 8 or 10, let me know!

2015-08-25 11.20.42

6. Cultivate my interests. Well, this is half done. My photography class is now finished, but I’ve been unable to find a sewing class. Everything I’m finding is very specific. I don’t need to learn to make my own clothes, or make a dress. I just need to learn the basics of using the damned thing. I did really enjoy my photography class though, and I’m enjoying continuing to learn my camera, and saving for another camera. Hopefully by the time I’ve saved up enough for a new camera (the one I have is fine, I just want a full frame one), I’ll have learned enough to feel like the cost is worth it.

7. Read the Complete Works of Jane Austen, and one book a week. Eh. Last time, I changed this to “Read the Complete Works of Jane Austen, and one book a month. I’ve read 7 books this summer (well… most have been audio books…) but last week I finally gave up on Jane Austen, and gave the book to a friend. I just can’t. The books I have made it through have been very enjoyable. My friend Heather recommended Liane Moriarty’s books to me. I’ve read two (Big, Little Lies & The Husband’s Secret), and both have been very enjoyable. I’ve also read The Royal We (basically Kate Middleton fanfiction, and I loved every second of it), and the Book of Speculation, which was a little weird, but also enjoyable. Next on the list is A Window Opens, by Elizabeth Egan, and What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty.

summer reading

8. Purge the magazines I’ve been hoarding. DONE. And recycled them by giving them to a friend’s son, who wants to be a chef someday.

9. Save money/pay off debt. Well, we still have two months left of this deployment, but YES. Thanks to the increase in G’s pay, & finally getting our tax returns, we’ve actually paid off a substantial amount of credit card debt since Graham has been gone. By the time he gets home, we will have paid off over $10,000 in credit card debt! Just in time for the student loans I’ve been putting off for 6 years to finally start getting repaid…

I’m pretty satisfied with what I’ve accomplished this summer. Well, except for the weight loss… But I’m so ready for G to get home, so we can get on with our lives. We’re buying a house when he gets back, and I’m SO ready for that. Our apartment complex was sold last month, and none of us who live here are really happy with the change. ESPECIALLY the change in rent… Before, we had the option of signing a 6 month, 12 month, 18 month lease, or going month to month. NOW, if we sign anything less than a 12 month, the price skyrockets. A friend’s lease us up for renewal. They currently pay around $1400. If they were to sign a 6 month, or go month to month, it would be about $2300. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. This is Newport News, Virginia. Not DC or Boston! So yeah. We’re DEFINITELY moving! We’ve been looking at houses all summer, and there are two that I’m completely in love with. Fingers crossed that they’re still around when we’re ready to buy.

So, that’s been my summer. And I’m so ready for fall I can’t stand it.

Be a Part of the First Crowdsourced Cabernet!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Columbia Crest. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

One of the most fun things about being an adult is wine. Romantic dinners & girls nights are just much, much more fun with a glass of wine, than a glass of diet soda. When I first started drinking wine, I went for the fruitiest, sweetest white wine I could possibly find. As I’ve gotten older, and tried different wines at different places, my tastes have slowly began to change. I’m now enjoying other whites, besides a glass of moscato, and I actually found myself enjoying a glass of red a few weeks ago.

To me, wine is a very personal experience. Regardless of what people tell you that you’ll taste or smell, everyone has a different experience. I always see all of the descriptive words on the bottles, and those words help me decide which wines I’m going to buy. I tend to gravitate towards “notes of citrus”, “fresh”, “light”, “crisp”, and so on. When I drink a wine though, I always take my first sip, and then think of things that would make me enjoy it more. But, since I’m in Newport News, Virginia, and not on a vineyard or in a winery, I have very little say in how wine is made.

Until now.


I’m not buying a winery, or having a wine make make a bottle customized to my specifications exactly, but Columbia Crest is answering the call for a more personal wine experience with their Crowdsourced Cabernet.

In 2014, Columbia Crest became the first winery to crowdsource a wine from vineyard, to table. They’ve set aside an acre of grapes for this project, and every week, people can go online and cast their vote on every aspect of the wine making process. You get to vote on things like whether or not the grapes are harvested at night, whether or not the grapes should be crushed, & which fermenter should be used.

Their website is very cool, and very informative. You can check out the weather in the area, the condition of the acreage and the vines, and even see videos of the fields and the grapes.

The general public also gets to vote on a single person to serve as the representative of the online community, as the first ECO (executive crowdsourcing officer.

If you want more information about Crowdsource Cabernet, or Columbia Crest,  check out their various social media channels:

Crowdsourced Cabernet Website
Columbia Crest Facebook page
Columbia Crest Twitter page
Columbia Crest Instagram page
Columbia Crest YouTube page

And don’t forget to go vote! You have until 8/24!