Last Friday In July

Happy Friday! I hope you all had a wonderful week. What did you get into? Anything fun? Make sure to tell me all about it in the comments below!

Here's my week at a glance.
1. As you know, I started the Whole30 on Sunday. There is A LOT of cooking involved and the knives I had were 'hand-me-downs' and no longer in good shape. So, I bought a new knife at Bed Bath & Beyond. Let me tell you, this is the best $35 I have ever spent! I just wanted to keep chopping!!!!!
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2. While shopping over the weekend I discovered a new sparkling water. Cascade Ice is sooo yummy! The Citrus Twist is my current favorite. Thank you, Kroger!
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3. Okay, so this next one isn’t exactly a great thing from the week, but I had to mention it! I’ve been watching Hulu for a long time now. I’ve never seen a pizza commercial during the tv show breaks until now. Why? Why now? So annoying!

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4. There was a birthday in the office on Wednesday. Chocolate cake galore! I have a great work team, because they brought me an apple! Thanks guys! :)
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5. I'm co-hosting an Instagram Challenge for the month of August. So please join Alanna from Alanna & Company, Jasmine from Classy, Sassy. and a Bit Smart-Assy, Ashley from Girl Talk, Helen from Hel on Heels, Christine from So Called Homemaker, Dayne from The Daily Dayne, and myself. 
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I’m linking up with September Farm for Oh Hey, Friday!

Bright on a Budget for High Five for Friday
Bright on a Budget

& xoxo Rebecca for That Friday Blog Hop
That Friday Blog Hop

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All material © Erica Musyt

Perfect Sausage Patties

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Let me tell you, the Whole30 book is FULL of yummy recipes! The first one I jumped on was the sausage. With the Whole30 you are recommended to make as much of your own food as possible.  I love the Jenny O sausage patties, but I'm not 100% sure if the ingredients are Whole30 compliant. Therefore, I made my own.  It's super easy to use and the below recipe makes 8 patties.

Here's how you do it ~

2 tablespoons cooking fat (I used EVOO)
1/2 cup minced white onion (make sure your knife is a good one and sharp too! my onions aren't as minced as they should have been)
1 pound ground meat (pork, chicken, turkey...I used ground turkey, but might try pork next time)
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

PREHEAT the oven to 350*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

HEAT 1 tablespoon of the cooking fat in a heavy skillet over medium heat. When the fat is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring until softened, about 2 minutes.  Combine the sauteed onions, ground meat, sage, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a large mixing bowl (careful, those onions are hot!) and blend well with your hands. Form into 8 equal patties about 1-inch thick.

HEAT the remaining 1 tablespoon of fat in the same skillet over medium head and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the fat is hot, add the sausage patties and brown for 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the sausage to the baking sheet and finish cooking them in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until no pink remains in the middle of the patty.

PRO TIP ~ These freeze beautifully - just stack them in a covered container between sheets of wax paper (or parchment paper) so they don't stick together. Defrost them the night before you want to eat them.

You can find everything above in the Whole30 book. The patties are so yummy! On Monday I'll have an update for you on how the Whole30 is going after the first week (writing this on day 3 and feeling good)!

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All material © Erica Musyt

Learning From The Pain

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I haven't participated in Write or Die Wednesday in a while. When I saw this prompt it hit really close to home. Experiencing pain, whether it be physical or emotional, sucks. Mine happens to be emotional most of the time, but every now and then I stub my toe during a ‘dance party’ in my apartment. It's like the picture says, the pain breaks that shell to open your eyes to how things really are (aka...don’t have dance parties near large pieces of furniture).

I am the kind of person who likes to overthink things. I overthink things TO DEATH! Everything! I also get really emotional and cry a lot.

I have a wonderful friend, let’s call her T, who is something of a mentor to me. She gave me some great advice on getting through tough situations.  

Being honest to yourself and everyone involved is important. I tend to react quickly and that can be good at times, but can also be harmful. Sometimes I’ll say/do things to make the other person happy while not being entirely true to myself.
Each night before I go to bed I like to say my prayers. I say the “Our Father,” “Hail Mary,” and then I pray for the people in my life. The people I love, the people I miss, the people I know might be having a hard time. Sometimes I pray for people that don’t particularly like me, but I know that there must be something going on in their life that they might need help with. I’m not the powerful almighty One, so all I can do is pray.
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this is a great little prayer that i’ve started saying
I have learned, through much hard work...and still learning, to turn things over to my Higher Power.  I can’t control what other people think, feel, say, or do. I can’t control how they interpret or understand things.  All I can do is say, “God, there’s nothing I’m able to do here, I leave it up to you.” It hasn’t been easy. I’m definitely a control freak. It’s not easy to give up ‘the power’ you think you had. But that’s just it. You only think you have that power. You/I have no real power. Only He has the power!
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Even if the pain you are experiencing is so bad that you feel like you can’t move or that you feel like you could just cry forever, remember that everything happens for a reason. It sounds cheesy at times, I know, but I firmly believe that. Every situation that you find yourself in and every person that is brought into and taken out of your life is for a reason. Learn from you life and everything in it.

How do you learn from the pain you experience?

Linking up with Mia and Vashelle for today's Write or Die Wednesday

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All material © Erica Musyt

Being On Stage Again

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At the end of June I auditioned for the 2015 Unified Local Auditions. These auditions are primarily for the Playwrights Festival, but you are kept on file for any future shows/readings. The Playwrights Festival is part of the graduate program for play writing at Hollins University. All of the plays are 'works in progress' by graduate students.

I hadn't auditioned for anything in about 7 years. The last time I performed in front of an audience was 4 years ago and that was an acting class I took in Washington, D.C.  I was nervous! I used my old go-to monologue and it did not fail me!  After I performed my monologue I was asked to sing (eek!). I got through that..haha...and then was asked to read from a few of the festival readings. I left there feeling so excited about the possibility of acting again. Just auditioning made me realized how much I had actually missed it!
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I got the call a few days later that I had been cast in two festival readings! TWO! I was sooo excited. I would have been totally happy with just one, but TWO! Oh Mi Gosh! I was going to be an actress again!!!  The way a festival reading works is that the actors read from the script. The plays aren't full productions with set, costume, lights, etc. There are very few, if any, props used and the actors carry the script in hand and read from it (no memorization). The two plays I was cast in, Coupler and Fallout, could not be more different from each other.  
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written by Meredith Dayna Levy
directed by Robert Moss

Coupler is about six people traveling on a train in London. Just your every day commute. The six characters are all connected in some way and have all lost something in their lives. There is a very whimsical feeling to it.
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Robert (Bob) Moss directed us in Coupler. Bob had us all sitting in a row up stage and had two sets of music stands. When our characters were speaking we would be at the stands. It worked really well and we got a lot of great response from the audience. That's the thing about theater, you have that live interaction from the audience. It's such an amazing feeling!

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"Coupler," by the perceptive and talented Meredith Dayna Levy (she wrote the wildly popular "Decision Height" two years ago), was a marvelous comedic diversion, featuring Bob Moss's direction and a sparkling cast of locals.
This one dealt with the interconnected lives of a group of train travelers (and of the train, as a character), sprinkled with laughter and Shakespeare.
It is not a finished play, but a work in progress, a script-in-hand presentation without costumes or sets. Like so many of these works, this was pure and delightful theater in the raw, a story that didn't need props to be effective.
The cast—Will Coleman, Erica Musyt, Emma Sala, Owen Merritt, Bonny Branch, Linsee Lewis and Debora Schwartz (wonderfully diversionary as the train)--is delightful and at times electric.

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talk back with the audience after the Coupler reading

During the talk back for Coupler a gentleman made the comment that Meredith's script could be a movie. I was like, HECK YEAH! It's a total romantic comedy that would work wonderfully on the screen, but it's also got this quality that only the stage can do justice with. However, I'm all for co-starring in a movie...haha!

written by Laura King
directed by Brandon DuMonde

Fallout is about two people locked in a fallout shelter. They are complete strangers that are forced together at a time where they didn't even know that they needed each other.
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Fallout iss action driven and dramatic. I have never been in a production where there were only two people, so it was interesting to be onstage the entire time. There were some very physical aspects to Fallout; a few struggles, a full on fight scene, and holding a notebook while dealing with props was not easy! Laura is a fantastic writer and I loved working with her. 
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Kyle Jackola was great to work with as a co-star. He was fun and always went with the flow. When the bottle of water exploded all over him, he just kept on going. That's a champ!
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I had such an amazing time being a part of the Hollins Playwright's Lab. I really hope to be part of it again soon.

{All Festival Reading photos from the Hollins Playwright's Lab Facebook Page}

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All material © Erica Musyt

Thank You

Over the weekend I was prepping for my Whole30 challenge. Saturday I bought the ingredients for my last delicious homemade pizza and a couple of diet cokes.  While at the self-check out I decided to get $40 cash back for the farmer's market the next day.  I completed my transaction and headed home.

I spend the remainder of the evening writing letters to friends and then finishing the Whole30 book. I was making my grocery list and going through the different recipes that I wanted to try out and writing down what ingredients I would need.  Then all of a sudden I realized something. I left the $40 in the cash machine at the grocery store!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn't believe that I did that. Seriously! I'm certainly not in a financial position to where I can just be like, "eh, it's only $40." I wanted to cry! It was about 10:45pm and I knew that if I didn't drive over to the store at that moment that I wouldn't be able to sleep. So, I slipped on some jeans and headed to Kroger.

The man at the cashier directed to someone that I could ask. I explained to him the situation. He was at a loss for words and suggested that I come back in the morning and talk to someone higher up. The first man that I talked to interrupted us and said that he was going to check somewhere for me.  He went back behind customer service, opened a drawer, and pulled out a money envelope. He asked me how much it was that I had left. When I responded with "$40" he handed me the envelope.  Someone had turned it in! Some mysterious person who found $40 turned in the money instead of keeping it for themselves.

Thank you to whomever you are! Thank you for turning in my $40 for the famer's market.  Mom and I discovered the next morning that the farmer's market is only on Saturday.  Oh well, at least we know now for next time!

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! With all the crap that goes on in the world, there really are nice people out there! THANK YOU!

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All material © Erica Musyt

Happy Fri-Yay!

Happy Friday! I hope you all had a wonderful week. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Friday evening I decided to treat myself to a little ice cream :) Bruster’s is one of my favorite places to go. They have blasts (very similar to Dairy Queen), but there is just something about it being from Bruster’s! I got a vanilla ice cream with reeses cups blast. Soooo yummy!
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Saturday was my dad’s 60th birthday! I think he had a pretty good time! There is a new IMAX movie theater in Blacksburg and dad wanted to check it out. We went to see Ant Man (AWESOME!) and then had dinner at Cabo Fish Taco. Mom and I slipped a *60* candle to the waitress and when she brought it out we started to sing Happy Birthday. I never expected the other patrons to join in, but they did and it was fantastic!
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Wednesday the company I work for had a sky box reserved for a Salem Red Sox game. My friend Lisa came with me and we had such a great time! I love baseball and am a Red Sox fan, so it worked out great. I finally got myself a Boston Red Sox hat! I've been wanting one for so long! Yay, my life is complete :)
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This has been a tough week. Getting up in the morning has been a massive challenge. Thursday night all I could do was sit. I hadn't felt good most of the day due to a lingering headache and then I think my lunch decided it didn't like me. When I got home all I could do was sit. So, I watched Netflix and enjoyed a laugh or two with Jane Bingham.

I bought the book Whole30 and am starting the ‘program’ on Sunday. It’s going to be tough, but I can do it! No gluten, no artificial sweetener, no legumes, and no dairy. This is definitely going to challenge me! Going cold turkey on bread and diet coke is what I'm most worried about.  In the book they go over what you'll probably feel like through the 30 days. I've warned my co-workers that there will be days I want to kill them :) They are all very supportive.
I made myself get off of my butt last night and cleaned out my cabinets. All I was left with was tea. There's stuff in the fridge, but not much (eggs and smart balance and seltzer water).
The Whole30 isn't a diet - it's a lifestyle change - and one that I need very badly. My goal is to change my food habits and get rid of cravings. Of course I'm open to losing weight as well!
Wish me Luck!
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I’m linking up with September Farm for Oh Hey, Friday!

Bright on a Budget for High Five for Friday
Bright on a Budget

& xoxo Rebecca for That Friday Blog Hop
That Friday Blog Hop

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All material © Erica Musyt

8 Basic Dating Principles Men Need To Bring Back

I have been following James Michael Sama on Twitter {here} for a few years now. He gives great dating and relationship advice. The other day I found this on Twitter ~

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When I read his full article I was screaming “yes!!!!” in my head! I agree and feel so strongly about what James wrote that I had to share it with you. As a single woman trying to date in this technological world, it’s difficult to understand when a guy is ‘dating you’ or just treating you like a ‘buddy.’ Does the guy even know he’s doing that? Shouldn’t he be making his intentions clear? That’s what I would think. But due to the ‘hook up culture,’ as James puts it, it’s not that clear anymore.

Here is James Michael Sama’s fantastic article for your enjoyment~

8 Dating Principles Men Need To Bring Back
Written by James Michael Sama | May 4, 2015

We have discussed on multiple occasions the effects that the hookup culture is having on dating and courtship – primarily negative ones. When it comes to actually dating, people seem to be lost. We hear very little about people [Looking at you, men] putting in the time and effort to plan a real date as a sign of interest in a woman.

It has almost gotten so off track that we don’t seem to know what a ‘real date’ even looks like anymore, if we did want to plan one. For that reason, here are some pieces of the puzzle that have to be present in order to call it that. Otherwise you’re just hanging out.

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1. You actually identify it as a date.
This is so basic that I don’t even want to say it, but in today’s day and age I have to. Meeting up for a drink is not a date. Grabbing a coffee is not a date. A last minute text inviting her to join you out with your group of friends is not a date. Using the actual word and properly inviting a woman on a date is the first step to actually making it one.

2. The man picks the woman up.
I will never understand the ‘want to meet me there?’ mindset. If I am going to have enough interest in a woman to invite her on a date, you better damn well believe I am going to drive to her place to pick her up. If you are going to dinner and she is ‘out of the way,’ either find somewhere within reasonable driving distance of her place or be prepared to do the driving necessary to go to her place, the restaurant, back to her place, and then home again.
*Note – some women may not feel comfortable with you picking them up for the first date if you have not developed enough trust with her yet. The important part of this is that you at least offer.

3. There is an actual structure to the evening.
You certainly don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars, nor do you need to have multiple events planned through the night. The idea here is to actually put some thought into the experience the two of you are going to share. If you’re going to dinner for example, don’t just show up at a restaurant and hope to get a table. Find out what type of food she likes, make a reservation, ask for a nice table, and do it right.

Regardless of what your plan is, there should, in fact, be a plan.

4. You actually put effort into how you look.
A date is no time for careless outfits. Taking the time to pull yourself together and put some real effort into your appearance shows both respect for yourself, and the person you are out with. Saying ‘this is who I am, take it or leave it’ is a great way to never get a second date.

Not to mention, we should want to look good for this person whether it is our first date or 100th date. The second we stop trying for them is the second things start to go south. If we start off that way, it’s safe to say you are doomed from the start.

5. The guy picks up the tab.
When friends go out, they split the bill. When you are on a date, the man picks up the tab. All of it. There are plenty of ways a woman can reciprocate if she’d like – she can take care of parking, pick up a round of drinks, get the snacks at the show you got tickets for, whatever it may be – but when the tab comes for dinner, don’t let her anywhere near it [and do not accept her offer to split it]. If you think paying for the date is about the money, think again.

6. Your phones stay in your pockets.
If the person you’re out with doesn’t keep your attention enough to make you forget all about your Facebook notifications for a couple of hours, then you’re out with the wrong person.

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7. There is some sort of chivalry involved.
Whether it be opening doors, pulling out chairs, or any other small acts of kindness that signify romantic interest in a woman, these are small actions that show her you are actually interested in her enough to put in extra effort for her.

8. You make sure she gets home safe.
No, she probably doesn’t need you to escort her home. Yes, she has lived this long just fine without you by her side. But neither of those things mean that you should just part ways as the night winds down. You picked her up [right?] and should subsequently make sure she gets home safe as well.

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Whether you are walking, driving, or taking a cab – it is imperative to end the evening on a positive note. Things can get dangerous at night for both men and women, and making sure she gets to her door will let her know that you care and are there for her, especially if she lives alone and/or in a city.

One last thing that I personally think should always happen on a date, but I won’t put it as a point because it is often contested, is a kiss. I believe if a man intends on pursuing a woman romantically, he needs to make it clear to her so that she doesn’t get the wrong idea and think he is uninterested. He should, of course, always be respectful and be confident that she is interested in return before making the move. But if the signs are there, the move should be made.

I also don’t believe one has to wait until the end of the night for a kiss. If things are going great, the attraction is there, and the opportunity presents itself – go for it.
So gentlemen – it’s time we show the women of the world that we still have it in us to build real, meaningful relationships. That we are willing to put in the effort to do more than just ‘hang out.’ Put the video games down – man up, suit up, and wine and dine a beautiful woman.

Thank you to James Michael Sama for the great advice you give!
Hopefully more men will start to catch on!

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Let Me Love Maxi Skirt

Slap a sticker on me and call me lucky! Why? The Mint Julep Boutique reached out to me about collaborating with them for a blog post. I could not turn down the opportunity. Have you seen their website {here}? Not only is their website super cute, but they have such cute clothes and accessories!

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I chose the Let Me Love Maxi Skirt and I’m so glad that I did. I’m not usually one to wear a maxi, because I feel like a hippy in them. {PS ~ there’s nothing wrong with being a hippy...I have lovely friends who are a hippies. It’s not just my style :)} I tend to be really particular about what I wear, because I’m already curvy and I don’t want to appear larger than I am.  The nice thing about this skirt was that it was light and feminine and clung close to my body. It wasn’t too flowy, so I didn't feel like a hippy.
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Here are some pictures of me (not a model) wearing the skirt. I wore it all day and was really comfortable in it. The only thing I would change would be to add lining to the skirt. Because the skirt isn’t line, it was more sheer than I would have liked. My mom could see right through it! Haha! I noticed it when I got dressed in the morning, so I had to go from navy to light pink underwear. TMI? Sorry...haha!

In regards to their sizes, this skirt on me is an XL. Usually I tend to be a 10/12 or a Large, so I think their sizes run just a little bit smaller. There is so much variety on the Mint Julep website, though, that you wouldn't have trouble finding something to wear. I was really happy with this skirt. Plus, I can wear pretty much anything with the tan color.
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Mint Julep threw in this lovely ring for me as well {here}.

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Do you like my selfie stick action? I think I’ve got it down now!

Check out
The Mint Julep Boutique
for your next outfit!

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All material © Erica Musyt