Start Every Day Better

Each week a receive a weekly email from an organization called the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. It is a great member organization for non-profits... providing us with high quality training, resources and marketing for very low cost. I have been to several training workshops, but I really enjoy their weekly email that includes the "Must Read Articles" each week. Some are about fundraising, some are about design, marketings, etc., but a few are designed for the individual in mind. They focus on you as a person - which I believe is key to a successful employee. I believe if you take care of yourself, your job will take care of itself. I have been pretty blessed that by working in the nonprofit world, this seems to ring true for most of my jobs and positions. We don't make the most money, but they do take care of us.

Today, I read an article titled, "3 Ways to Start Every Day Better" from Inc. com. I loved it so much I wanted to share it with my blogger friends too.

In short, they say that most athletes go through a very rigorous routine long before they step on the field for that big game. And most of these athletes begin that routine the moment they wake up each and every day. It gets them "in the zone" or ready for success! I realize that we are not all athletes, but I think it would help us all be a lil' more productive to be "in the zone" every day.

Here are 3 steps to start your day off right and get you "in the zone":

1. Body - When you first awake, your body needs three things - water, protein and movement. Water, to start the hydration process {and working towards our 8 glasses we need each day} and moving fluids through your body. Protein, even if it's a scoop of peanut butter or a protein shake, it should be the first food we eat. Movement, gets the blood moving, clears your mind and releases enegery. Sometimes we don't have time for that 30 minute run or hour spin class, but just 10 minutes of stretching will do the trick as well.

2. Mind - Your mind needs to be focused or you will find yourself getting nothing done and wasting time. Most of us have a dozen things on our list to get done every day {I feel ya} but they say if you can focus your energy on just one big thing for the day - you will get it done and feel more successful. So, take the little things and combine them to one big task and focus on it.

3. Spirit - Part of getting "in the zone" is aligning your core energy and emotions. Take control of them by filling your mind with gratitude. Being grateful, aware of all you have, will get you in the zone. Try starting your day greeting the first people you see, a loved one, co-workers, the guy at the coffee shop. They will feel your graciousness and it will make for a better start to the day for everyone!

To be a top performer each and every day, put yourself "in the zone" and see what happens! Happy Thursday folks. It's almost the weekend.

xo, tracy

Read the full article


The Cotton Anniversary Gift for Guys

After lots of research for the perfect "Cotton Anniversary" gift for the hubs, I found a few I really loved!  Cotton is easy, right??  But some boxers, towels, socks, and your done.  Ha!  Well, if you're the crafty type like me... those didn't fulfill my creative juices.  And let's be honest, when it comes to most things cotton in our house {with the exception of boxers & ties}, I am really the shopper/one who really cares what cotton comes in and what goes out. I mean, if we're being totally honest, I really pick out the ties and boxers too {with his approval, of course}. Now, I think J would be perfectly fine picking out his "cotton" on his own, but I really do enjoy it, and I'm lucky lets me!  So when it came to picking something out that was really "for just him" in the cotton range, I thought.. towels {sure, I would love}, sheets {again, me}, bed linens {me}, blankets/throws {mostly me} ...which brought me to the conclusion that it is really not that easy to come up with something really for "him" in the cotton realm. But, after lots of ideas and research,  I did find some of my favorite cotton gifts for guys...

I went with the cotton bow tie and the state pillow, but I really love all of them... and I'm sure he would have to. What did you give for your "Cotton Anniversary" gift? Anything else fun?

Either way it's been a fun two years!! 

xo, trace


Memorial Day Eats!

I hope everyone had a really great Memorial Day weekend!  We certainly enjoyed the day off yesterday and took full-advantage of the beautiful weather with a mini-vaca to Virginia Beach. We left early on Sunday... J drove the whole way and I slept in the backseat, so we could make it there before traffic.  And we did!  We pulled right into our hotel at 10am, checked-in and hit the beach! The weather was perfect.. a lil on the chilly side, but it was nice come 4 o'clock.
We soaked up some good rays, ate lots of seafood {and had a few orange crush's via Waterman's} and enjoyed the boardwalk - both at night {hello bands!} and the Monday morning {am run} - and were able to make it back in time for a mini-cookout of our own last night... Yum, Pimento Cheese Bacon Burgers!

Friday we hit up "Open Mic Night" at Devil's Backbone for some local brews, and finished the night off with a big group at The Palms {gearing up for summertime and Friday's Alive}. Saturday we had a big group of friends over for a "Welcome to Summer Cookout." We welcomed in 5 new staffers to KA and gave them the full Lyons Den cookout.... complete with homemade pimento cheese, BBQ chicken, deviled eggs and homemade ice cream!

I wanted to share with few recipes we enjoyed:

First up, our BBQ Chicken Sauce:
1 Bottle Sweet Baby Rays Original Sauce
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Fat Free Italian dressing (Kroger brand is best!)
Garlic Salt & Pepper to taste

We wait until the last 10 minutes to baste and sear the sauce on, or you could baste and place in the oven. It allows you to not waste any on the grill. 

Second, my Moms Deviled Eggs:
1 dozen eggs
1/4 cups Mayo (my mom uses Miracle Whip)
1/4 cup relish
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
paprika for garnish

Boil eggs for 12-15 minutes on high. Let cool, peel and cut in half. Add yolks to bowl with remaining ingredients and whisk with a fork. Fill eggs and garnish with paprika. 

Last, Homemade Toasted Pecan Peach Ice-cream:
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped peaches
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

I doubled the recipe and it filled our 2 qt ice cream maker perfect... it also fed around 15 people! We waited to add the pecans about half-way through and it kept them crunchy. 

I figured since we ate so well this weekend that I would share with you some of our favorites!  

xo, trace



Friday Favorites

Happy Friday and Memorial Day weekend! 

We are looking forward to a fun celebratory weekend around Virginia... we have some golf on tap, time at the lake, cookouts, {maybe some fireworks}, sunshine, homemade ice cream and celebrating the country club pool opening!  Now what could be more American than that line-up? I hope everyone has some fun summer-time traditions on tap! 

Today, I just wanted to share some of my favorites from this week...

Peonies are everywhere in Lex. 
Including on my desk. Thanks to KJ!

 from my Cousin Jeanne, who spoke at our conference last week in St. Louis. She brought us a big box, and Saturday night we celebrated by polishing off almost the entire box with a bottle of champaign. 

Bring on the summertime. I just finished reading said book below where they ate these like every other meal, and I'm totally ready to pack my bags and move to Sullivan's Island - right. now.  Please!  Any takers? 

Dorothea Benton Frank might be my favorite author. I first picked up one of her books, Isle of Palms, just after graduation when I was 98% sold on moving to Charleston. My brother lived on Isle of Palms when he was stationed in the Navy, and the first time I stepped foot into the low-country I was in love! I started reading every book of hers I could get my hands on, and just found this one last week at the library. If you're looking for a quick, fun read that will take you strait to the land of Gullah and Grits. Pick up one of her books. I promise they won't disappoint.

Summer Shandy.
I'm pretty much in love... where have you been all my 8 years of legal drinking life? haha

Have a very Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! 

xo, trace



{For some reason this never posted on 5/14... but it did a lil late. oops!}

Well, folks I'm off to St. Louis for the week for work/volunteer work. I'm the annual conference chair for the Fraternity Communications Association this year and I'm excited the conference in finally here! We have lots if great speakers on the schedule and a couple exciting off-site events planned... a tour of the Anheuser Busch brewery, and a night at the Ballpark kicking off our welcome event tomorrow night! Wish me luck and a few extra hours rest.

I'll be back to blogging next week!

xo, Trace

Hotel Roanoke

Our quick lil getaway to Roanoke was such a treat! We had the BEST time and got to explore some new terrain, not too far away... and celebrate our 2 year Anniversary! The hubs planned the whole trip too - which I loved!!

Just a sneak peak from our adventures in Roanoke...

Upon arriving, J told me I needed to check into the front desk so they could give me a key - so I could get on the elevator? {Hmmm...} So, I did and was told we were in 701. So when I arrived on our floor... 701 was the only room - the Governor's Suite! haha The place was crazy huge... bigger than our house! It also had a sweet balcony with amazing views of the city!

We spent some time at the pool that afternoon, then popped open some bubbly {that was supposed to be be drank at our wedding - but got left in Lex... and since last year we were in Jamaica.... it finally got drank} and boy was it delicious! We enjoyed some nice treats from the hotel and opened gifts! {insert tomorrow's blog here}

The evening started with drinks in the Pine Room - such a neat bar in the hotel! 

We had dinner at Frankie Rowland's. A-mazing. Probably the best steak I have ever had. Hands down.  {sorry the pics were so dark, the atmosphere was pretty swanky -ha} Notice the large to-go bag Jesse has... we pretty much took half of our meals home there was so much food. ha!

We were so impressed by downtown Roanoke. I have never spent much time downtown... but they have some really great shops and places to eat. 

 The open-air market is also really cool... lots of fresh veggies and plants, bread, honey, trinkets, etc. We enjoyed time in the city market the next morning - and picked up a great lil breakfast at On the Rise Bakery. So delicious!   

We had a great time celebrating our 2 year Anniversary in Roanoke - and only had to take a few hours off work. It was a nice lil mid-week getaway. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on "cotton anniversary gifts" and what we got for each other. 

xo, trace


Happy 2 Years!

Today marks 2 years... 104 weeks... 370 days... {you get the point} since we said our "I do's" and to tell you the truth it's been a really fun 2 years!! We have been beyond blessed to both have great jobs, great friends, an awesome church and community, wonderful supportive parents and a happy, healthy family!

Most of all, these past two years have been just plan happy. I'm so lucky to have married such a selfless, kind and wonderful man who always thinks of others before himself and has a heart bigger than anyone I know. Thank you to his wonderful momma for raising him to be so gracious, because I am reminded each every day at just how lucky I am.

We are off to Hotel Roanoke tonight for a celebration!  Just wanted to share some of my favorite memories from our wedding weekend that may not have been the most professional, but defiantly the most fun!

One of me and my pops that Steph snagged... since Dad didn't make it for any of the formal "getting ready" pics... he was out making signs, go figure... I wanted to include this one! 

Paw Paw was in rare form...

Cake anyone?

PawPaw gettin' low

Clearly we needed sunglasses... and a robot?!?

I believe this is the only picture we have from us actually leaving the reception... thanks Jen! 

Cheers to May 21st!  Now, off to pick up my groom at the Airport and celebrate... like it was 2011! 

xo, trace


St. Louie for FCA

I'mmm back!! What a fun week we had in St. Louis.  The conference was a success and I even picked up this pretty little plaque for my hard work...

Not a BMW, but I'll take it.  It was an awesome experience for event planning with such a fun group of Communications professionals! We got the full St. Louis experience too...

The Arch... just steps away from our hotel

Private Tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery

Cards vs. Mets Game
With a private party in the Conference Center before the game!

I am excited to say that I was elected to serve on the Board of Directors for 2013-2014 as the Director of Education. I am super excited to help lead the organization next year again! 

We ended the conference on Saturday around 1pm and promptly took a nap. ha!  But, it was well-worth it, because we then had a really fun night. The Cards had a night game, so people and live music were everywhere. We had a drink at the Hilton outside bar and listened to music... took a walk through the park at the Arch and stumbled upon another outdoor concert. Then we decided that we wanted to ride up to the top of the Arch... and almost made it in... only to be stopped at the doors to a private event sign. :(  Next visit I suppose!  We ventured over to a fun hot-spot, the Broadway Oyster Bar... where posted up for the rest of the night.   

We took some fun pics, but they are on J's camera. I will re-post later.  The atmosphere took me straight back to Nola... and the food was pretty on the spot too! We had this alligator sausage and shrimp cheesecake appitizer - OMG, To. Die. For. They even had Abita Strawberry and Summer Shandy on tap. I was in heaven! 

Alligator Sausage and Shrimp Cheesecake

Late night the bar-tender made me a fun drink, with a local ginger beer. It was awesome... the perfect summer cocktail! 

My Summer Ginger Ale
1 part Ginger Beer
1 part Taka Vodka
Fresh Lime to garnish

Hope Everyone else had a great week/weekend.  Tomorrow is our "cotton anniversary."  I can't wait to pick my hubs up at the airport and celebrate 2 fabulous years as your wife!! 


Friday Favorites

Happy Friday Folks! 

It's such a beautiful day here in Virginia - I hope all of you are enjoying some sunshine as well!  Today I thought I would share some of my favorites lately...

Spaghetti Squash.
Last night we tried this recipe with our fish and it was amazing!

Thursday KJ and I took a walk to Sweet Frog for a tasty treat... come on warm weather!

Good Books!
I just finished Revenge of the Kudzu Debutants - halarious. If you're looking for just a funny read, this one is great! I'm heading back to the Library this weekend for another in the series. 

A brief shout out to my beautiful Sister-in-law on this fabulous Friday. That is her above with my brother and baby Lucas.  Today she became an official citizen of the U.S.A. I have learned so much about our immigration process over the past few years, and it makes me curious to learn more. Two weddings... two babies and three years later, she's officially an Elleard!  Congrats Karen, I love you and am so happy to have you as my sister!! 

Off to Relay for Life tonight at RCHS! It's the perfect night for it! 


Thursday Thoughts

Back to the grind.. well, really that was yesterday... but I was so slammed with work that I don't think I even go up from my desk to use the restroom. I'm getting caught up and decided I needed a break. Next week I am in charge of a National Conference in St. Louis, and the details are just overflowing like crazy... I do love it though. Just wish I didn't have to do my REAL job on the side as well. ha!

We had an amazing weekend in Mob town and P'cola with the familia. The kids are just growing... growing... growing... and talking up a storm!  The sweetest sound in the world is hearing Aunt Tracy in a sweet lil voice. :) Friday we checked out the P'cola Crawfish Festival in downtown, but the rain ran us out and we picked up our own spread from Joe Patties and took it back to the heezy for a Friday Feast!

Saturday we visited with the Elleard kids to celebrate Landon's 6th Birthday! I can't believe this baby is so big... but still a heart as sweet as can be. Love you sweet boy!

Saturday night we celebrated with the Kelly fam at my Godfather's wedding... Sharon made Emi and Lucas beautiful outfits... and my parents booked the whole family rooms at the Battlehouse Hotel.  SO beautiful!!  We can't wait to get back and explore more!

Sunday I was so excited to take Jesse to mass at the Cathedral in downtown Mobile. The stained glass windows are just gorgeous... and the choir makes mass so beautiful!  After mass we headed across the bay to check out a house my brother & sister made an offer on. It's in a perfect location... great neighborhood and schools, close to my parents and Mobile for Rob's work. I'm sending them lots of good vibes... and hoping all works out. Can't wait to start decorating!!

Sunday was a fun Cinco de Mayo celebration - as you could tell from my earlier post. We spend the last few days home outside soaking up the sun... at the playground, in the yard, at the beach - you name it. We enjoyed our vacation time with the fam. Just a few pics from the adventures...

Hope everyone is having a great week! We finally have some pretty weather in Lex... it's been raining since last week {from what we hear}, so the garden's are growing like crazy... we're happy for some sun to dry things out! I'm looking forward to a fun night at Relay tomorrow night and a relaxing weekend at home before we head to St. Louis!

Also wanted to share a yummy recipe we are trying out tonight:

Crab Stuffed Tilapia

Recipe can be found here


Happy Cinco

Enjoying a wonderful mini-vaca with the fam. Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Cinco de Mayo! We celebrated tonight with my Mexican sister-in-law... And she even played along with our silly American traditions. We had a fun fiesta.. Compete with a taco bar, fresh guacamole and margaritas!

Check out this great idea for a piƱata cake too!