eats, life

Van Life: Reaction Video

Yesterday we posted about our friends, Courtney and Bryce, who are traveling the United States in their van. They recently posted a video of the meals they eat during a typical day on the road. To celebrate (and lovingly mock) them, we thought it would be fun to replicate their meals in our full-sized kitchen and document our reactions in this 9-minute video. Enjoy! (Because you probably won’t get many more of these.)

We made oatmeal, chickpea salad sandwiches, and peanut butter stir fry! You can find more details about those recipes here, as well as see the full video from Courtney and Bryce, which gives you a better idea of how to make them.

What we learned from making their meals:

  • There are delicious plant-based recipes out there you can make and love to eat. (This may sound blasphemous, but not everything has to be made on the Big Green Egg.)
  • It’s hard to make yourself vulnerable to an audience on camera.
  • Documenting your life on camera is consuming, so it’s important to take moments to just enjoy what you’ve created.
  • We don’t live a cool, van life, so we have the time to make reaction videos to our friends’ lives, apparently.
  • Our friends are adorable and funny, and we love them for putting up with us (and this video).
  • Oatmeal doesn’t fill you up. But peaches on your oatmeal are by far the best fruit to put on your oatmeal. (Tehehehe.)
  • You can make the chickpea salad sandwich your own by swapping out ingredients, as Courtney mentions in their video. Melissa suggests swapping tomatoes for grapes!
  • Make the peanut butter stir fry with just a half bag of rice noodles for more saucy and veggie goodness! Also, dabbing Sriracha or sprinkling some cracked red pepper could add a little spicy kick.
  • Two people can eat on $22/day and have leftovers to spare.
  • We are incredibly proud of our friends, Courtney and Bryce, deeply respect what they have been able to accomplish in the last five months on the road, and look forward to seeing what else is in store for them!

$22/day for 6 meals = $3.68/meal

We went to KROGER to buy all the ingredients to make these meals, and it cost us a whopping $22, and we even had leftovers! We think that’s amazing. Courtney and Bryce get a lot of questions about how they afford to take a trip like this. It’s because they make sacrifices all the time by 1) making everything themselves even when it means the inconveniences of doing dishes at a campsite, and 2) not spending money on going out to eat along their trip. We’re not sure that’s something we could do!

The last thing we want to point out is that their meals are healthy. Yes, they have a lot more carbs than we’re used to, but because they are healthier grains, we burned through them fast – especially on a VERY hot Houston day. Typically, people make excuses for not eating healthy. “It’s too expensive or too hard to cook.” But their videos  prove healthy meals can be affordable and easy (especially if you’re not living in a van).


Dear Courtney and Bryce,

Thanks for being such an inspiration! We are literally telling everyone we know to SUBSCRIBE to your page. We love you!

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eats, extras

Van Life: What Our Friends Eat On The Road

Today’s special extra comes from our DINK friends, Courtney and Bryce Zinckgraf. For those of you who don’t know us, Courtney and Bryce are the reason we’re married and so in love. They paired us to walk down the aisle together at their wedding, and the rest is history. But this post isn’t about us – it’s about them!

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“Hi! We are from Jacksonville, FL. We quit our jobs, bought a 30-year-old van named Hidalgo and fixed it up. Now, we are living full time in the van while we drive around America seeing National Parks and meeting cool people.”

For those of who haven’t seen any of their videos yet, you’re in for a real treat. You can follow their journey HERE (and hit “Subscribe” – you won’t regret it).


But this EXTRA is all about their most recent video, which is what they eat in a typical day. We wanted to share two of their recipes with you, since we’re such foodies! See the full video and the two recipes below:

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

Ingredients:
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 Avocado
  • ½ Medium onion
  • 1 Apple -1 tomato
  • Salt to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
Directions:
  • Empty chickpeas into a large bowl
  • Mash about ½ to ¾ of the chickpeas
  • Add avocado and mash to combine
  • Dice the onion, apple, and tomato
  • Add diced onion, apple and tomato to bowl with chickpeas and avocado
  • Add salt and garlic powder to taste
  • Stir to combine
Other things that are good in chickpea salad sandwich:
  • Mustard
  • Celery
  • Pickles
  • Lots of possibilities!

Peanut Butter Stir Fry

Ingredients:
  • Rice Noodles (check package for serving size and cooking instructions)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 small package of mushrooms
  • 1 head of broccoli Sauce
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic (or however much you want)
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger (or however much you want) –
  • Splash of water to thin it out
Directions
  • Cook rice noodles based on packaging instructions
  • While the noodles are cooking combine all of the sauce ingredients and mix well
  • Dice the onion and pepper
  • Cut up the broccoli
  • Lightly stir fry the onions, pepper, mushrooms and broccoli (or cook to your liking)
  • Combine rice noodles, veggies, and sauce
  • Mix to combine

Viola – there you have it! A special treat from our two friends who are pursuing their dreams and have the most incredible videos and photos to prove it. We hope you enjoyed this EXTRA and continue following Courtney and Bryce on YouTube or Instagram.

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extras

How To Tuesday: Build A Raised Planter Box

Recently we have been dabbling in growing small herbs on our kitchen windowsill, and then Joey caught the bug when he planted a pineapple and it started to take off! We had talked about starting a real garden in the backyard but didn’t know exactly what we wanted, because Regal also loves to play in the yard. Joey decided he was going to build a raised planter box, so we could move it around the yard if need be and keep the plants out of harms way (aka Regal and his racquetball). To make the planter, box it only took about 5 hours on a Sunday morning/afternoon and cost about $100 in supplies. If you decide to give this a try, don’t hesitate to ask us questions and be sure to tag us on Facebook or Instagram so we can see how it turned out!

**These supplies and measurements are based off the 4ft x 2ft x 11in box we made and it stands about waist high (30 inches).**

Supplies:

  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Circular Saw
  • Drill
  • Saw Horse
  • Nails ( 1-5/8in. )
  • Screws (1-1/4in. )
  • Wood Glue
  • Cedar Boards 1x4x8 (3 total)
  • Cedar Boards 1x6x8 (5 total)
  • Cedar Board 1x2x8 (1 total)

*We used cedar wood because it is strong, does not contain chemical like pressure treated and does not rot easily.*

Steps & Directions:

  1. Pick up the supplies from your local home improvement store.
  2. Measure and cut the 1x4x8 into eight 30 inch pieces for the legs and one piece 24 inches in length
  3. Assemble the four legs by overlapping two pieces of wood making a right angle (see pictures below for set up).  Apply wood glue along the edge of one piece and clamp them together, one on the top and one on the bottom to help the glue set.
  4. While the two pieces are clamped together, nail the center section together with two nails equal distance from the top and bottom clamps. After you remove the clamps hammer in a nail where the clamps were.
  5. Repeat steps 3&4 until all four legs are assembled.
  6. Measure and cut the 1x6x8 boards into four 4ft long pieces.  These will be used for the long side of the box.
  7. Measure and cut the 1x6x8 boards into four 2ft long pieces. These will be used for the width sides of the box.
  8. If you made the first cuts correctly, you should have leftover 1×4. Take what you have and cut them into four 4in. to 5in. pieces.  You will use these to attach the Length & Width pieces when they are stacked together on the soil facing side of the wood. (See picture below.)

  9. Once you have all the sides stacked and attached you are ready to glue and screw them to the legs.
  10. Take one side at a time and line it up with the inside of a leg.  Apply some wood glue to the leg where you will screw the side to the leg. Apply four screws the the soil facing side of the 1×6 into the leg.  When drilling in the screws be sure to go slow so you don’t split the boards or drill to far and go all the way through the leg. 
  11. Repeat step #10 until all 4 sides are secured to the legs.
  12. Your planter box should be taking shape! Now its time to get the bed ready.
  13. Take the 1x2x8 and cut it in half.   You will use these two pieces as the shelf to lay the bed boards on.
  14. Cut the 1x6x8 into eight 24in. pieces.  These will be used for the bed along with the 24in 1×4 from step #2.
  15. Flip the now assembled box upside down so the legs are in the air. You are now going to glue and nail the “shelf” for the bed boards on to the bottom side of the 4ft boards.  Apply glue to the 4ft side of the box and then nail the “shelf” on.  I used about six nails on each “shelf” to give it strength because all the weight of the soil will rest on this. Repeat for the other side.
  16. Return the planter box to the correct standing position and begin to lay the bed boards in.  You might find the 24 in. 1×4 might be a little two wide, if this is the case trim it to fit. (We had to take off about an inch) We liked the way the pieces fit together and decided to not glue or nail them in.
  17. Now you are pretty much done!
  18. We took it one step further and decided to use our JJ George Torch to lightly burn the planter and give it a weathered look.  We chose to do this instead of staining it because it was cheaper and didn’t want to risk chemicals getting into the soil (If that is even possible…).
life

Girls Trip: Los Angeles, CA

Melissa here. I’m three weeks overdue with this post, but I’m excited to tell you more about my mid-July trip to Los Angeles to visit one of my best friends, Heather! Heather and I have known each other since high school. We ran cross country together, and served on student council together. Most recently, she stood by Joey and me on our wedding day. We’ve had so many sleepovers I’ve lost count, but none of them compare to our most recent sleepover in LA.


Importance of Girls Trips

Have you seen the movie “Girls Trip” yet? It’s hysterical and reminds you of the important role your friends play in your life. Sometimes, you just need to get away with your girls and talk about girly things – like what types of face wash you’re using nowadays and what happened on your latest date.

Although my girls trip to LA didn’t have drama like the movie (Thank, God.), it did allow me to reconnect with one of my best friends. Heather and I haven’t lived in the same city since graduating high school in 2009. We catch up as often as we can, but nothing beats a long weekend exploring, beaching, dining, and lounging.


Exploring Los Angeles

Friday

My flight landed around 6:30 p.m. on Friday night. We headed straight to the Venice Beach area to see the sunset. As the temperatures dropped quickly to a chilly 68 degrees (don’t judge me), I forced us to retreat to Heather’s apartment in Marina del Rey. There, I was able to drop off my suitcase and put on a jacket. Then, we took a Lyft over to Abbott Kinney to eat at The Butcher’s Daughter. The wait was about 45 minutes, so we walked down to The Brig for drinks. Heather ordered a Mexican Mule, and I had my typical Gin and Tonic. When our table was ready at The Butcher’s Daughter, we settled in with a glass of their house red wine. Over great conversation, we enjoyed our vegetarian Carbonara and Risotto. Everything was delicious! After dinner, we went back to Heather’s and passed out. We wanted to conserve our energy for an unplanned busy Saturday.

Saturday

On Saturday morning, we heated up microwaveable breakfast sandwiches (don’t judge us) and got iced coffees from Dunkin’ Donuts. We were in a rush to get to the Griffith Observatory, so I could see the Hollywood sign for the first time. This was my first trip to Los Angeles, and I told Heather, “I don’t care what we do as long as we get to see the Hollywood sign.” After taking a million pictures in front of the sign alongside a million other tourists, we explored the observatory some more, and Heather showed me the LA neighborhoods from a cool vantage point.

After the Hollywood sign, we ventured over to Hermosa Beach, where we met up with some of Heather’s friends. Everyone was so nice and even shared their pizza with me after Heather and I skipped lunch to rush over to the beach. The weather was absolutely perfect – high of 75 with not a cloud in the sky. Even though the water was a bit too cold for me, it was incredible to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean. It’s not something I get to do too often! We laid out for a few hours.

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After beaching, we headed to the Hermosa pier to eat. As a group, we all checked out The Baked Bear, which puts ice cream in between two cookies. Heather and I split our ice cream sandwich, and then split off from the group to get a real meal. I ordered a chicken sandwich and Heather ordered a burger from American Junkie off Hermosa Pier. The food was your typical bar food, but you couldn’t beat sitting on the pier while the sun sets in the distant.

After exploring Hermosa Beach, we relaxed at Heather’s apartment and called it another early night. Beaching ain’t easy.

Sunday

On Sunday morning, we woke up to go to brunch at The Misfit in Santa Monica. Another one of my bridesmaids and best friends, Meredith, was also in LA to visit her sister, Angela. (I promise we didn’t plan our overlap.) It was so fun watching my two worlds collide in Santa Monica. We had such a fun time eating way too much food. I ordered a Bloody Mary, salmon toast, and Brussels sprouts. (DID YOU KNOW THAT’S HOW BRUSSELS SPROUTS ARE SPELLED?) It was all so yummy!

From there, Heather and I ventured to the Santa Monica pier where we took a lot more photos. We decided we hadn’t eaten enough (not really, but the views were unbeatable), so we stopped in at Mariasol, where I had the best Piña Colada ever. There were also chips and salsa, which you can never turn down. Our seats overlooked the end of the pier, where there was an entertaining street singer. After a lot of uncomfortable staring, Heather and I both decided he was lip syncing. Nonetheless, his 1990’s/2000’s alternative covers were fun(ny).

For some reason, Heather and I were so tired. We ended up going back to Heather’s apartment to nap. We woke up just in time to eat dinner. Sunday was definitely our foodie day. For dinner, we headed to ROC at Playa Vista, where Heather’s roommate ordered everything for us. We had scallion pancakes, crab fried rice, soup dumplings, garlic green beans, and pork wraps. I doubt those are the Taiwanese titles of the dishes, but I never saw the menu and appreciate the nicknames. I left feeling so happily stuffed.

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After dinner, we stayed up and chatted for a while about so many topics. From foster care and adoption to discrimination. Again, we went to bed early, because my flight was out of LAX at 7:00 a.m. I was so sad for this trip to come to an end.


Thanks, Heather!

Thanks for generously hosting me for a long weekend in LA, Heather! I appreciate you playing tour guide, and not over scheduling our weekend. I loved our chats and just being able to relax on the beach. I can’t wait to do it again. Thanks for an amazing Girls Trip!

dogs, life

TPLO Surgery Update

It’s been two weeks since we last posted. So much has happened. We’re excited to get back to our regular posting schedule, but wanted to give you an update on our sweet pup first.


Side note: Thank you to all who contributed to our GoFundMe page. You raised $480 in three days, which helped put us in a better position to pull the trigger on Regal’s TPLO surgery. We can never repay you for your generosity, but we hope you enjoyed the cute Polaroids Regal shot for you. Thank you so much!

Monday, July 30, 2018: Consult With Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists

If were weren’t down on our luck enough, we had some trouble with our first orthopedic consult where we first discovered Regal’s ACL was torn. The first place (Gulf Cost Veterinary Specialists) wanted to charge us more than what a typical TPLO costs ($2,000 more), because they only do a fancy, unnecessary procedure in conjunction with the TPLO surgery. They didn’t tell us that there were other, just-as-effective, and less expensive options, which is what ultimately made us the most upset.

But after talking with Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists on the phone, we knew this would be the right fit for us. Joey took Regal to his consult appointment. On just three legs, Regal limped in, acting as a ham, per the usual. He received lots of pets and was a champ! He handled the poking and prodding and didn’t become upset until he was back in his room after the exam. The orthopedic surgeon team there confirmed he did tear his ACL, and Regal needed the TPLO surgery. Luckily, they had an appointment open for the next day.

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Regal at his consult appointment at Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists

Monday night was rough, because you continually have these thoughts that it might be the end of the road for you and your best friend. Also, instead of being able to just lay around and snuggle, we had to give Regal an anti-septic bath. Regal hates baths, and to make matters worse, you have to leave this special soap on for 10 minutes before rinsing. The poor guy couldn’t even rush to his favorite part of bath time, which is toweling off. He was mad at us the rest of the night, which made Melissa even more emotional.


Tuesday, July 31, 2018: Regal’s Surgery

We woke up bright and early to try and ensure Regal was the first surgery of the day. There are no guarantees, but we dropped him off as early as we could at 7:00 a.m. When dropping him off, the surgical team sat down with us and walked us through what to expect. We handed over some food and treats, and then, handed over Regal. That’s when the pit in Melissa’s stomach started.

Around 10:30 a.m., the surgical team said Regal was prepped and ready for surgery. They were waiting for the anesthesia to kick in to take him for updated radio-graphs and  surgery. This is when Melissa’s stomach pit grew larger, and she could feel it in the back of her throat until she received the next call…

At about 2:00 p.m., the wonderful Dr. Bubenik called to say Regal was out of surgery. The surgery had gone great, but they did find that Regal had also torn his meniscus. They were forced to remove part of that tissue too. But she expected Regal would still make a full recovery. Melissa’s pit returned to stomach only.

At 4:00 p.m., the surgical team called to tell us Regal was awake. They were letting him slowly wake up and rest, but they were going to try to get him to eat and go on a walk soon. They said at around 8:00 p.m. they would send us a picture update.

These are the pictures Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists sent us that night (aka Regal on drugs):

Wednesday, August 1, 2018: Reunited With Regal

Although knowing Regal was doing OK, it was still hard to sleep well Tuesday night. When we woke up on Wednesday morning, the surgical team called to setup a pickup time. We landed on 4:00 p.m. When we arrived, we spent about 45 minutes talking with Linda (She is so great!) about post-operation procedures for Regal.

We learned our new, daily routine for the next 6+ weeks will look like this:

  • Warm compress for 10 minutes.
  • Walk on leash for 10 minutes.
  • Physical therapy exercise one: Knee Flexion and Extension
  • Physical therapy exercise two: Weight Shifting (Side-To-Side)
  • Cold compress for 10 minutes.
  • Administer 4-6 pills.
  • Feed boiled chicken to ensure there’s food in the belly.
  • Repeat 1-2 more times per day.

I’m not sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into. After being a little overwhelmed by PT exercises, we were finally reunited with Bubba:

It made our new daily routine seem worth it. That’s when the pit in Melissa’s stomach finally went away.


Post-Operation Regal

Since Regal’s surgery on August 1st, he has been doing great, but only because of some very special people:

  • The team at Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists: Thank you for walking us through everything to expect. You recognize our pets are our children, and our concern runs deep. The detail you put into your work eased us during an incredibly “ruff” time, and we couldn’t be more thankful for the step-by-step instructions and videos.
  • Meredith and Colton Beall: Thank you for taking over post-operative duties while we traveled to see our family on a nonrefundable trip. We could never repay you for showing up for us and our little champ. (Sorry he hated taking his pills.)
  • Our friends and family: Thank you for continually checking in. We appreciate getting to tell you how Regal is, because it reminds us that he is going to be just fine.
  • Supporters: An additional thanks to those who helped make this surgery possible. Without you, we would be a lot more stressed.
  • Olivia Craig: For sending us cupcakes and pupcakes from Sprinkles. You made us feel a little bit sweeter about the situation we were in.

Regal still has a long road to recovery, with a follow-up Monday, and another check-up in four weeks – but from what we can see, he is going to make a full recovery, and be able to live a normal, active, playful life again soon. Now, if only we could get him to take his pills more easily. <Insert frustrated because our dog is stubborn faces here.>

Our post-surgery pup, Regal, and delicious cupcakes and pupcakes thanks to our sweet friend, Olivia.

 

dogs, life

Bad Luck Comes In Threes

There is an old saying that bad luck comes in threes, and let us tell you, it hit us hard recently. It’s why we haven’t been as active as we would have liked to be on here – especially this past week.

We encourage you to lean in, learn more, and maybe even help us conquer this bad luck curse.


Floating On Air

Do you ever feel like you’re floating on air? Like everything is going your way? But you try to remain humble about it all? Because well, you know, Karma’s a bitch?

All we try to do is put out positivity, and hope it comes back to us. It typically works until God decides we left Earth for a little too long, and He doesn’t want us just floating any longer.

Everything was going great here! I mean we recently launched this blog to share our love for life, eats, and dogs. We got people interested in writing for our page. We gained followers in family, friends, and strangers.

And then, our bad luck curse hit…


Bad Luck #1

About four weeks ago, Joey was on his way home from a Houston Astros baseball game. Despite being a year to Houston, Joey hasn’t spent much time navigating downtown. Being a later workday than normal, Joey switched his brain to autopilot and followed the car in front of him turning left on a one-way downtown street. Unfortunately, Joey missed his red light, and side swiped a car coming through the intersection on their green.

Thankfully, no one was injured. But “Big Red,” Joey’s 2003 Nissan X-Terra was totaled. And just for that, this day will forever live in infamy.

Joey takes full responsibility for this accident, but it meant we had to purchase a new car. Not knowing what our bad luck fate held, we opted to get Joey what he really wanted (and what was practical for us), since he had been driving a 15-year-old car. “Big Red” had her learner’s permit for goodness sake! We ended up buying a 2017 Toyota 4Runner with 30k miles through Hertz Auto Sales. We were hoping to write a blog on our shopping experience with them, but our bad luck continued…


Bad Luck #2

As everyone knows by now, when it rains in Houston, it pours.

We feel so blessed to have survived Hurricane Harvey with no damage to the house we had only bought and moved into two months before the storm decided to camp itself over our town. We watched as water creeped about five feet from our house, and then quickly and luckily receded through the baby canals on our street. Although we were on an island for a week, we were so much better off than so many others.

We felt like we really needed to say that before we complained about our Bad Luck #2.

Since Melissa has lived here, Houston has had Memorial Day flooding and Tax Day flooding, which our little 1950s house has survived. However, most recently, during the Independence Day flooding (PSA – Dear Houston, you need to stop celebrating holidays with floods.), our 1950s home had endured too much.

As the rain came in sheets, and Fourth of July parades were canceled, we noticed our dining room ceiling showed a little leak, while our kitchen ceiling revealed a substantial leak. We were able to get to the leak in the dining room and put a bucket under the drip, but the leak dripping into the kitchen ceiling was unreachable. The water continued to spread across the room. Thankfully, Joey thought to poke holes where the water was sitting and moving to, which allowed the water to drain out of our ceiling.

What was supposed to be a day spent on the Big Green Egg was spent talking to our insurance company, inquiring with emergency roofing companies, and asking around for recommendations. Luckily, the rain subsided (and still hasn’t really returned since that day), which has allowed us to fix our roof and ceiling.

We thought this would be our last headache, but we had obviously forgotten about the bad luck curse, and the worst of our bad luck hit us very hard…


Bad Luck #3

One of our last posts was on Regal – about a small limp and a recent trip to the vet. We wish we had better news to tell you, but we’ll just spit it out: Regal tore his ACL and needs surgery.

<Insert picture of Melissa ugly sobbing.>

To make a long story longer, about three weeks ago, we noticed Regal, had a small limp. We took him to our vet, where he was put on an anti-inflammatory and advised to rest. We followed the vet’s directions, but Melissa left town for a trip. When she came home a few days later, Regal was so excited to see his mom that he over exerted himself, and all of a sudden lost all mobility in one of his hind legs!

We immediately rushed him to have X-Rays done, and we were referred to an orthopedic surgeon. The orthopedic surgeon said Regal had fully torn his ACL, and he was recommending TPLO surgery. TPLO, or tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy, is a surgery performed on dogs to stabilize the stifle joint after ruptures of the cranial cruciate ligament (ACL). Although there are other surgical options other than a TPLO that are less expensive, for a young active dog like Regal, a TPLO is usually the gold standard treatment with quickest return to normal function.

For those of you who don’t know him, Regal is happiest when he’s running through the dog park, chasing balls across the yard, swimming in the lake, rolling in the grass, and sprawled across the couch with his head in your lap. Without this surgery, Regal may never get to experience his favorite things in the same way again. And that breaks our heart.

Regal at the orthopedic surgeon’s office being a champ.

This leads us to an ask for help we never wanted to make, but feel like we have to, because every little bit helps…

Although we know there’s so many worthy causes out there to support, we’d love for you to consider supporting Regal and us through our GoFundMe page. We feel silly even asking, because typically we’re asking you to support foster care and adoption, which makes a difference for so many at-risk children. But as newlyweds with bad luck hitting them with the curse of threes, we’re left in a less than ideal financial situation.

We’ve decided to cancel our 1-year anniversary trip to pay for half of the $5,000 surgery, but we are hoping some generous friends, family members, and strangers will help to pitch in for Regal and for us. Every little bit helps!

We won’t ask anymore than this, but please consider donating to our page here. Thanks for considering!


In Summary

The saying is true… Bad luck does come in threes.

And although that bad luck caused our wallets to be empty, our glasses are still very full. As newlyweds out to conquer the world, we are grateful to have each other, you, and this platform to share our lives. We promise there is a lot less complaining to come, more Big Green Egg recipes, and updates on our champ, Regal.

Love,

Melissa & Joey

life

Our Prime Day Buy

We’re really excited about our Prime Day purchase this year: Two DNA testing kits.

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Originally $199 per “Ancestry + Health” kit, we got them for $99 on Prime Day!

It looks like 23andMe is continuing to run a sale, offering these kits at $139 currently. Check it out here. We encourage you to take this journey with us!

Or you can wait and see what we think! Although, we might have a biased opinion since Melissa is adopted… She’ll be excited to learn about anything!

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Melissa when we get the results.

Either way, we’re excited to learn more about where we came from, and what we can learn from our genes. We’ll know more in six to eight weeks!

life

Book Review: “King Solomon’s Mines” by H. Rider Haggard

Hey friends, Joey here! I know that I am typically the one to read more nonfiction and business-related books, but I have been on an adventure/fiction kick lately. Sometimes, you gotta shake things up to keep it interesting!

This time I read, “King Solomon’s Mines” by H. Rider Haggard.


It is a 5 Star read!!

I was recently recommend this book by one of my friends and colleagues, and I decided to give it a shot. I would consider “King Solomon’s Mines” a true classic novel full of adventure, brotherhood, and romance (not the mushy love stuff, more of the gritty traveler romance you might find in an Indiana Jones movie). The book is narrated by one of the three main characters, Allan Quatermain, who is an elephant hunter in Africa who meets his soon-to-be partners-in-crimes, Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good, on a boat ride to Netal after a failed elephant expedition. Sir Henry and Captain Good are off in search of Sir Henry’s missing brother. Sir Henry’s missing brother was in search of King Solomon’s Mines, which is rumored to be full of diamonds and gold, but he never returned. As fate would have it, Quartermine was the last person to see Sir Henry’s brother AND have a map to the mines given to him on one of his previous elephant excursions.

After the three companions reached an agreement, they set out in search of the elusive mines and Sir Henry’s brother. The book takes you on their journey across the desert to a land inhabited with an ancient tribe where King Solomon’s Mines are rumored to be. Along the way, they fight against all odds the get to this sacred land where their battle does not end. Do they reach the mines and find Sir Henry’s brother accompanied with the riches rumored to be there? Or is it all a wise tail and they end up battered and empty handed?


I hope some of you decide to read this novel as it is a true classic and one of a kind. You can BUY IT HERE now. If you do read it, let me know what you think, I’d love to hear your opinion.

Cheers and happy page flipping!!

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eats, life

Book Review: “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel” by Gail Honeymoon

It’s Melissa again. I recently wrapped up “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel” by Gail Honeymoon. After reviewing “The Alice Network” by Kate Quinn, we chose this as our June book, and we made another great pick! This time, it was my turn to host Book Club, and after reading this quirky story, I was excited to plan a completely Eleanor Oliphant themed evening.

First, let’s start with the review:


4 out 5 stars

“Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel” by Gail Honeymoon is the unique story of Eleanor Oliphant, a young woman who, after experiencing extreme childhood trauma, struggles to move forward in her life. Eleanor lives by a strict routine, from eating the same meals to scheduling out repetitive days of the week. When Eleanor develops a crush on a local singer, her beloved routine falls to the wayside, and she opens herself up to chaos. Along the way, she finds some friends who will help her pick up the pieces as she tries to uncover the truths of her childhood.

The book is brilliantly written and fun to read, which is why I give it 4 out of 5 stars. Gail Honeymoon does an incredible job of making you feel as uncomfortable as Eleanor acts at many moments throughout the book. Honeymoon also leaves you wanting to know more about what happened to Eleanor. Without giving away too much, Honeymoon also incorporates a twist at the end, which I had wondered about from very early on. Once you read, you’ll have to tell me if you had the same thought too! Overall, I highly recommend this book, and you should BUY IT NOW!


Hitting Close To Home

I wanted to include one side note about how this book hit very close to home for me. From very early on, the book talks about Eleanor’s caseworkers coming to visit her. Because of her extreme childhood trauma, Eleanor was placed in the foster care system. I work for Arms Wide Adoption Services, and we are dedicated to finding forever families for children in foster care. While reading, I found myself wondering,

“Had Eleanor been adopted, would this entire story be different?”

This question made for a great Book Club discussion. Although we decided we’re unsure adoption would have changed Eleanor’s life, we did decide people too often assumed Eleanor was fragile. We think if someone pushed her more about her past, she could have faced her demons earlier on. This may have helped her establish a healthier, more normal (but probably still fairly strict) routine.


Now, More On Book Club

I have mentioned Eleanor’s routine a lot so far! When she found something she liked, she stuck with it forever. Throughout the story, Eleanor would eat the same meal or drink the same beverage every day. That’s why I decided to offer an Eleanor Oliphant themed spread for our Book Club.

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From left to right: Cheese scones, ingredients for vodka colas, Magners Irish Cider, and pasta a la pesto. Cheers to Book Club, and cheers to you, Eleanor Oliphant!

If you’re interested in making these delicious gluten free cheese scones, you can find my recipe here. I also show you how to turn it into a delicious B.L.A.T. sandwich!


If you want to keep up with my Book Club, we are currently reading and set to discuss on Wednesday, August 8, 2018:

“The Pisces: A Novel” by Melissa Broder

life

Maine Family Vacation 2018

A Post From Joey

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

This past June we took a trip with my sister and parents to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, which was also Melissa’s first trip to Maine! You might be thinking, “How was Maine picked for the family trip?” Well, this is where my parents went on their honeymoon and a place that our family would vacation to growing up, so it’s a special getaway for my family. Being from Florida, and now living in Texas, escaping to the northeast during the summer is also a very nice change in weather considering temperatures were knocking on the door at 100 degrees the day we left.

When we go to Maine, we typically stay in the Boothbay Harbor area. While we are there, we each have our favorite places and activities to explore, as well as adding new adventures to our memories. I decided to keep this simple and make a quick list of my  activities and places we ate at on this trip in hopes this could be a rough road map for anyone who might take the same adventure. Enjoy!

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Favorite Excursions/Activities


Favorite Eats & Treats


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Meet Joey

13239159_10154231323986289_8593389871700676034_n“All Risks, this is Joe” is how you will know me if you call during the work week.  I work for a wholesale commercial insurance broker here in Texas and I know that just went over about 97% of your heads or you just stopped reading.  If you want to know more about what I do, stay tuned for future posts because it’s a pretty cool job but I won’t try to explain it here.  As someone who can only sit still for about an hour max before I get antsy, you will most likely to find me doing something that involves working with my hands and outdoors. On the weekends I will be up early to enjoy what I call my “me time” which involves drinking coffee on the couch while reading a book or watching TV while mentally planning out my day/how I can end up cooking on the Big Green Egg.  My closest friends know me as being ambitious, loyal and very sassy/snarky, and I hope you get to experience some of that along this journey. Learn more about Joey here.