My weekend was busy but super productive, how about yours?

We started the weekend with our second to last No-Meat Lent meal of Fish and Asparagus.  Who knew so many people on IG would like a photo of asparagus ready to be roasted?  But they sure did!

Something I am loving lately is making my fish in coconut oil. So light and fresh, none of that heavy greasy taste, you should try it!

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Friday night also included a mini marathon on Netflix of Criminal Minds, which is currently our binge show. We started at episode one and are at the finish line of season 2. That is 45 episodes, or 31.5 hours of viewing… And seeing as we don’t watch until 9 or 10 pm, we are slightly sleep deprived lately too.

I know we can’t be the only ones with this addiction…

Netflix

Saturday was Spring Cleaning day! I was able to work through one heck of crowded guest room, which took me a majority of the day.  Since last fall, our guest room has turned into a dumping ground for just about anything.  When I painted the living room, all the decor went in there, and still hasn’t seemed to make it back on to the walls. {Add that to the to-do list for the coming weeks.}

I am just going to show the before, as I am working on some projects for the room that I plan to share in upcoming posts. You can see now why it took a large portion of the day.  But know that now, the bed in  a new place, the clutter is either put back in their proper home or purged from the house. .

I did purge about 1/4 of this whole room. That really felt great!

I almost forgot, I did clean out the linen closet that had turned into a jungle recently too. It was a very productive day.

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Saturday night we met up with some friends at our local pizza place,  Carbone’s.  We have become such regulars with them sponsoring our Softball teams and by living only a few blocks away that they know us by name. And by order.

We are notorious for ordering the Bacon Cheese Burger Pizza with the pickles on the side.  We don’t even have to ask for them on the side anymore, they just know. And they know that a small soup cup of pickles isn’t going to be enough. They normally just bring out a whole bowl for us.

See “Lotsa Pickles on the Side”. We are those people.

Also if you have never put pickles on your pizza, you should go out and order one right now and pile on the dill pickles. It is life changing.

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And then Sundays are for brunching of course! I met up with my college girl friends for an early brunch at Freehouse.  I was so looking forward to brunch because of this one dish they have on the menu.  Yes, I was also looking forward to brunch because I was able to see my friends, but I have been craving this dish for the last 3 months. Priorities.

Their Breakfast Gnocchi, I would recommend it to anyone.  The gnocchi is fried, placed on a bowl of creamy pesto, then topped with portabello mushrooms, arugula and bacon. Drizzled with balsamic, and finished with 2 poached eggs.

I ate the whole thing. And then didn’t eat again until 6:30pm… so stuffed.

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We also played “pass the baby” with the newest member of our group, Miss Evelyn.

Everyone need to get their photo with the peanut. And of course she made her IG appearance too.

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I was last in line in our passing game of little Miss Ev, so her and I were able to snap one good photo before she started crying for mom. Next time I will try to lead the baby passing train so I can get some good cry-less snuggles!

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Post brunch I need to get out and move to prevent a food coma.

I spent about 1 hour each at both Home Depot and Target.

I looked at about 101 things from my project list at Home Depot, and started plotting my summer house plans. I picked up 5 different back splash tiles to compare to my cabinets and counter top, 10 different shades of yellow for my guest room {someday baby room ;) }, looked at wood for a headboard project, then more wood for some shelves I want to put in the kitchen, and finally bought some supplies to finish my bathroom project that I started forever ago.

For all the browsing and plotting I did, I am surprised I walked out of there spending less than $100 {with a majority of that able to be returned when I decide on tile}!

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Once I got home I was in need of a nap.  And so was Dewey, so we squeezed a 30 minute in on the couch together, before I started on dinner. Love my snuggle bug!

Dinner was also a recipe testing meal. I like to test out a recipe a few times normally before I share it out, especially when it is one I am creating on my own. I want to make sure that I get all the flavors right before throwing it out there for you guys to try.  That means you can expect a Gouda Sweet Corn Risotto recipe coming your way some time soon.

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Post dinner, I did all our meal prep for lunch and breakfast for the week. Leftovers, salads, cut up fruit and some over night oats.

Finally before settling into a few episodes of Criminal Minds with the Hubby, I put some coats of paint on these guys.  Just you wait to see where they go ;)

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 Phew… that was a packed weekend!

 

What did you do this weekend? Any spring cleaning or house projects? 

 

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I read an article about a list of the Top 30 Hammiest States. Minnesota was ranked #10 on the list.  Who comes up with these lists?

I tried looking for a list of the Top Scalloped-est Potato States. It didn’t exist. Shoot. If I liked scalloped potatoes, maybe I would make my own list, but I don’t, so I won’t.

I will however introduce you to this amazing potato recipe that is sure to blow the socks off any one you serve it to.

As I mentioned, and will again here only 2 sentences later, I don’t like scalloped potatoes.  I swear my family always had this at family gatherings, mainly Easter, as a kid. Many times they were made by my grandmother from scratch, but other times my mom made them from a box. My grandmother’s scalloped potatoes were always good, but I never really liked them. My mom’s from a box on the other hand, not good. Not good at all. Which also meant I didn’t like them.

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When thinking about Easter dishes this year, I thought I would try something different of my own for scalloped potatoes. Something that could give that nice creamy cheese, chive taste without the fresh from a box taste.

Cauliflower is an under rated veggie that can make a wonderful creamy sauce.

I have found that frozen cauliflower can be the best option for making a cauliflower sauce. Not only is it cheaper to buy cauliflower frozen in a bag, it is already cleaned and chopped for you.  Bonus.  But the best part is the freezing process helps soften the hard veggie, making it easier and faster to get to the right consistency for a creamy sauce. Score.

IMG_1868You could always slice your potatoes in to disks to look like traditional scalloped potoatoes, or you could be a rebel like me {read: lazy like me} and chop them into cubes.

I also like to add some fiber and color to my dish, so all skins stay on too. Mixed with some fresh greens, and you have a boat load of color.

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Now after you have all your layers, you are just like an onion. Name that movie….

By the way, did you see that they just came out with a Shrek Broadway Musical? I sure hope it is as good as the movie, cause boy I love that movie.

“And in the morning, I’m makin’ waffles!” – used to my all time favorite catch phrase. I might still use it on the weekends before I am inspired to make waffles. Oooo…. maybe I will make waffles this weekend. #Done

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Check out all the creamy goodness. Remember, there is barely any cheese in there to make it look so mouth watering.

Big perk, when you go to serve these scalloped potatoes, they don’t run into all of your other food. Both my mother and I are OCD about our food touching, so a runny potato is never my friend. These potatoes stay together nicely on their own side of the plate. Or unless you want to try to make a photo ready plate, then they can touch.

However, once your photo is taken, you give the plate to your husband and make him eat the touching food, and you serve yourself your own plate of non-touching food.

Genius.

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I am going to leave you wit this long, stringy photo of taters.

Enjoy!

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Creamy Cauliflower Scalloped Potatoes

yield 12 servings

  • 3 lbs red potatoes, whole
  • 2 12oz bag frozen cauliflower
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 cup italian bread crumbs
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Salt
  1. Place clean potatoes,  whole and peal on, in a large stock pot and cover with water.  Bring potatoes to a boil and cook until skins begin to crack and a fork easily pierces skin.  Pour off water, and rise with cold water. Chill potatoes in refrigerator. 
  2. To prepare the sauce, place 2 cups of chicken stock and cauliflower in large pan and cover. Bring to a boil, and steam for 20 minutes. Keep checking to make sure there is still liquid on cauliflower.
  3. Place cauliflower, and all remaining liquid in blender, and blend until smooth.
  4. In the same pan, turn heat to medium and add butter and oil until melted. Whisk flour into butter and oil creating a roux for your sauce.
  5. Add pureed cauliflower and garlic to sauce. Season sauce to taste with black pepper and salt.
  6. Chop chilled potatoes into bite size pieces.
  7. Place a thin layer sauce in 9×13 backing dish.  Next add potatoes, chives, Parmesan cheese, and cover with remaining sauce.
  8. Cover potatoes with bread crumbs.
  9. Bake potatoes at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. If bread crumbs have not browned, place under broiler for 5 minutes without burning bread crumbs.
  10. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

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 I always love the Easter season. Pastels are everywhere, Spring starts to make herself known, baby bunnies and chicks are everywhere you look  and another family gathering.

Family gatherings always seem to create some sort of stress for the Host in our family. It isn’t easy to wrangle in a large family like mine, and creating a menu can also adds to the stress. Everyone in my family has their favorites, and nailing down a menu to appease everyone can be difficult.

As we approach Easter Lunch or Brunch, I thought I would share a few tips on how to take the stress out of planning an Easter gathering so you have more time to spend with family {and friends}.

Tip #1 Pick easy recipes for the main dishes

Ham is always a huge staple for my family on Easter. There is something about the Easter meal that screams for ham.  To make brunch or lunch easier post church, one great way to have a perfectly delicious and ready ham is to pick up a HoneyBaked Ham from your local HoneyBaked store.

One of the fantastic and stress saving things about the HoneyBaked Ham, is it can go straight from refrigerator, to the table, without any additional prep. Simply follow the serving tips on their website, allow the ham to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving, and you are ready to go.  The ham is perfectly smoked for 24 hours, has a signature HoneyBaked glaze and crunch on the outside, and is pre-sliced for easy serving.

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To please the non-ham eaters, {something I don’t understand, its almost like not liking bacon} you can also pick up a fully cooked and ready to serve sliced HoneyBaked Turkey Breast to serve along side your ham.  I find it nice to have 2 different meat options available when serving a large group.  I am obsessed with  smoked meat, so I was thrilled when I found out I could buy the turkey breast either roasted or smoked. Smoked of course.

The HoneyBaked Turkey Breast, just like the ham, need only be placed on a serving platter, and rest for 30 minutes prior to serving.  The turkey boasts the same sweet, crunchy glaze giving each bite, a nice burst of flavor. Main dish done!

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When I served these to our lunch guests I was surprised to hear all the stories of growing up eating HoneyBaked Ham. Learning that HoneyBaked has been doing great ham for over 50 years, and starting in Michigan, I knew why my Michigan friends where so familiar with the product.  They said it tasted just as delicious as they had remembered it from family gatherings as kids. Not having grown up on the brand, I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of serving it, and by the wonderful flavor. The crunchy glazed outside was all everyone could talk about.

Oh and the nicely pre-sliced ham, made The Hubby look like a pro ham carver. Which normally he is not.

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Tip #2 Buy a pre-made dessert and jazz it up 

While at the HoneyBaked store I also picked up one of their desserts.  A great hosting tip is to buy a pre-made dessert and jazz it up a little to make it look like it came right off your Pinterest page.

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I picked up this frozen cheesecake, thaw and ready to serve.  Adding these small edible birds nests to the top of each wedge of cheesecake and placing them on green cupcake liners, they just scream spring! And they took under 10 minutes to prepare.

Everyone raved about how cute these were and how good the cheesecake tasted. I eventually had to admit that the cheesecake was HoneyBaked, I just made it look a little more Spring.  Now, you could be less honest than me, and take all the credit, with a fraction of the time spent making a homemade cheesecake. Most people know how time consuming making a cheesecake is, so they will be super impressed when you bring these cuties out to the table.

{keep posted for the Birds Nest Cheesecake tutorial}

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Tip #3 Set your table the day before

Everyone wants the picture perfect table to impress their guests. Another great outcome of Pinterest.  By setting your table the day before you free up plenty of time in the morning for un-rushed food prep.  This also allows you more time to admire your pretty table.  I love waking up in the morning, and seeing the table set, makes me feel accomplished for the day before it even starts.  This might lead to an awkward breakfast eating situation, but you can get creative to keep your table looking pretty.  Donuts over the kitchen sink is prefect for catching crumbs.

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Tip #4 Pick recipes you can make the day before

Easter Day is normally a time crunch when you are the host.  The morning  starts with getting yourself {and family} to church on time. Then after church everyone is at your house for brunch or lunch, leaving little time for any food prep. Unless you want to be up at 5 am.  Many Easter staples can be made the night before and ready to either pop in the oven for a few minutes or served fresh out of the refrigerator.

On my menu was these Cauliflower Scalloped Potatoes {recipe coming}, Brussel Sprout Ramen Noodle Salad {recipe coming}, Rolls, and Corn. I was able to prep the Scalloped Potatoes the day before to pop in the oven to warm up. The salad was easily made and stored in 3 parts, crunchy, veggies and dressing , and then combined right before serving. Last, rolls can be either made at home with your favorite recipe, or from the store. Who doesn’t love Hawaiian Rolls with ham. And for the corn, well I have a severe soft spot for canned corn. That is pretty easy to make too.

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Tip #5 Map out your cooking time

After you have created your menu, create a timeline for your morning to ensure you don’t feel rushed and that you know exactly in which order to work through your food prep.

For example this is my prep timeline:

  • 7:00 am- Wake up, prepare for church and have a light breakfast
  • 9:00 am- Church
  • 10:30 am- Home from Church
  • 10:45 am- Take out pre-plated appetizers for guests arriving after church – Cheese and Meat tray, deviled eggs, cold dip and bread, veggie platter, etc.  {these are great ideas for guests to bring}
  • 11:00 am- Put potatoes in the oven 
  • 11:10 am- Plate rolls, add corn to oven safe serving dish, place salad veggies in serving bowl (without dressing)
  • 11:30 am- Take HoneyBaked ham and turkey breast out of Refrigerator and place on platters to rest
  • 11:45 am- Take potatoes out of the oven, and let rest. Place corn in oven until warm
  • 11: 50 am- Add dressing and crunchy toppings to salad. Bring all dishes to the table
  • 12:00 pm- Lunch is served

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Tip #6 Pull out all your serving dishes the day before.

This was a tip I learned from a co-worker a few years ago and it has worked wonders for hosting.  She told me that her mom always pulled out the serving dishes she planned to use the day before.  She knew all the dishes she was going to make, and the size of the dish she would need. Since many serving dishes sit in cabinets, in hutches or on display as decoration in our kitchens, they need to be given a quick wipe down. By picking these out the day before, you have time to make sure they are ready and clean. This will save time while preparing your meal in the morning.

The best part of the tip is to add a sticky note to each serving dish noting the purpose. Not only will you have clean serving platters, but it will also be easy when your sister or cousin comes into the kitchen and asks to help. You can just point her to the right dish to stack buns on with out breaking a step in your prep.

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Tip #7 Subtle statement go along way when decorating 

Your house doesn’t need to look like Pinterest threw up all over it for people to enjoy the day, or even give you some wonderful compliments.  It is really about less is more. Pinterest gives us a world of unlimited options to create the Better Homes and Gardens cover photo, but sometimes too much can make your Easter celebration look like you are trying too hard.  After you have pinned your 100 Easter Pins to your “Easter” board {because I know you will do that}, go back and pick 3 or 4 that you really want to try to execute and coordinate. Yup, only 3 or 4, because that is the most realistic for a stress free event. And think about ones that look fantastic but don’t take too much time.

I created a small Easter Board with a few ideas, and then narrowed them down.  I picked this pin to create a simple but crafty garland for my dinning room window. Then instead of following her exactly, you will notice I used my bunnies for napkin rings instead of garland. 20 minutes of cutting paper and a few staples, and I had not only my window decor done, but some fun festive napkin rings, for the cost of staples and 6 pieces of paper.

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I also picked a fun and simple center piece that made a big impact, conversation piece and was super easy to put together. Keep watching later this week for a step by step to make this perfect center piece. 

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Tip #8 Breath and enjoy the day with everyone 

This one should be easy.  Once everyone sits down to eat, stop thinking.  Your work is done, and now is your time to enjoy the day with your family {and friends}.   And hopefully you made it through your hosting duties stress free. Now go find some Easter eggs!

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This post was sponsored by HoneyBaked, but all opinions are my own.

In addition to helping support this post, HoneyBaked is offering a coupon to help you make your Easter stress free!

Offer valid 3.14.15 – 4.4.15. Must present coupon at time of purchase to receive offer. May not be combined with any other offer. One coupon per person at participating retail store locations. While supplies last. Find your Local HoneyBaked Store Here: http://locator.honeybaked.com/

 

 

Happy 6th Birthday to my favorite morning buddy, Shakeology!! For a year now I have been drinking a Shakeology shake daily. I am a creature of habit, and lover of chocolate, so 90% of those days were chocolate shakes.  Who would pass up a chocolate shake {that is actually AMAZING for you} for breakfast?

That would be just silly!

I share my love for shakeology on IG sometimes, and a few times on here, but never have really shared why I keep drinking it.

In the last year, I have had one legit cold, the week of my wedding- we all know stress really did that to me-, since I started drinking Shakeology.  I leave out my allergy sniffles because these are managed by my allergy meds, not something I task my shake with doing.

In the last year, I stopped drinking coffee daily. After starting to work full time, I started drinking coffee daily to help me function in the morning. Now, I only drink coffee because I want the taste of it, or something warm. Who knew I would ever love the taste of coffee.

In the last year, I have am super regular in the bathroom. Not to get too gross here, but I totally can feel the side effects of not drinking a Shakeology for a few days. Seriously, on our vacation for San Francisco last Christmas, I went 3 days without my shake and my stomach was in knots! I won’t be doing that again. I enjoy knowing that I am going to be regular every day, and sometimes multiple times per day! Gut health is the most amazing thing EVER!

In the last year, I have not once thought about the “investment” Shakeology is per month. Most people bring this up as the reason to not buy. Believe me, I was that person too, but once I started drinking it daily, the benefits to my health have far out weighted the thought of money. Now I can’t imagine not having it in my daily routine.

In the last year, being a Shakeology drinker and Beachbody coach, I have met so many INCREDIBLE people. I have made lasting friendships with people I would have never had the opportunity to meet before. These people have added so much accountability, support, and motivation to my life, I don’t know what I would do without them!

So there you have it, my mini love profession for my Shakeology!

In honor of drinking Shakeology for 1 year, and it being the 6th Birthday of Shakeology, I thought I would share my favorite- go to- recipe!!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Banana Shake

  • 1 scoop Chocolate Shakeology 
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 cup cold water
  1. Dumb everything into the blender and blend until creamy. Enjoy! 
 

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Do you ever feel in a hair funk? That is where I am right now.

My hair is super long right now, something I love, but other days it is killing me.  Above is me a few weeks ago at a Mardi Gras party, where I fully loved how it looked. But then below is me a week later at The Hubby’s Birthday party and I hated how flat and limp it was starting to look…

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While working out I need to make sure my long hair is up in a high bun and secured with a strong elastic band, otherwise it is falling out all over or sticking to my body, covered in sweat. Gross.

Halfway through most days I have the urge to pull my hair out of my face so it is tied back in a pony or messy bun. I hate the way my hair looks pulled into a pony. I think my head looks weird or my ears stick out too much, just not my favorite look.

In the last 2 years I have grown out anything that was once a bang, causing my 4 finger forehead to be more prominent, especially as my front layers get longer.  I push my hair behind my ears and that again makes my forehead look like a moon landing space. Bla.

Have I mentioned, I am in a hair funk.

I have tried many different things with my hair over the years. Although most people still think of my as a long hair girl. Most don’t remember that time {or 2 times} I decided to cut all my hair off to donate to charity. Yup, 10 inches and 13 inches all at once. Those were super sad, but motivating days.

While in China in 2007 I decided I wanted it even shorter, and it was chin length for a hot minute.  Having my hair cut in another country was a really fun experience all in itself.  Living in a pretty rural area of China, where foreigners seldom live, or have their hair cut it was quite the honor for the salon to have “American’s” hair to cut.  I received the royal treatment during that cut.

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The next summer my hair was making its way back to long, and I added some color. I was just getting out of a super serious relationship at the time. We all know how that goes, you want to change something drastic, and hair is easy to do that to. So I added bright, chunky blonde highlights. The Summer tan helped them blend in, but I did have a friend tell me once that they looked like painted in stripes. She was not a fan obviously.

What can I say, I was going through a phase…

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Then a year later when I was graduating from college, my hair had grown back and I was all about wearing it with long bangs and some slight volume. My hair always seemed to look better when I was going out in college. I wonder if the water was better there? 

From there I never really turned back from the long hair, it just got straighter and straighter for a while, post college.

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And then I thought the asymmetrical bang thing looked nice… No photos of that. Let’s just bury those in my Facebook albums.

But then for about the last 3 years I have been in this lots of curl phase, where my bangs have been short, long or non-existent, but with lots of curl.

My hair curls really well, so this has been easy to maintain for years on end.

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And most recently, last summer I finally jumped on the bandwagon and did the Ombre look with no bangs, and my trusty curls.

My engagement photos looked awesome with all the curls and the color. I think the photos made my hair look better then it did in person. My stylist did a fabulous job, and I constantly received compliments on the color, but it just never felt perfect to me. I could not get over the transition from dark to light, I think it was mainly when my hair was in a pony. I looked like I had super dark hair, and then just a pony of blonde.

Oh but I dearly love how my hair looks in this photo. My photographer said I had hair of a mermaid. {so sweet}

And yes that is how long it was, and how long it is today. Crazy insane long!

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I am so up in the air on what to do with this mangy mop on my head. With Spring in the air, the need for change is truly upon me.

So now that I have ranted about my hair, gone down memory lane with my hair….

I need to make an appointment with Prairie to get my hair done. Like this weekend!

Let’s hope she is free ;)

 

Do you have any suggestions on what I should do with my hair? Cut it short or keep it long? Bangs or no bangs? Color change or o’natural? 

 
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