Happy Gameday from Dallas!

Happy Game Day from Dallas, TX!!!

We will be getting up bright and early to drive down from our hotel to the stadium to tailgate with some friends, and hopefully see my college roommate & her husband.  We are super excited to see the Cowboys stadium, and Jake of course is over the moon excited to be able to see Michigan play against Florida!  I am just happy for the return of college football, and thanks to a grad student will be kept up to date on the Carolina game which is happening around the same time as the Michigan game will be!

Here is a throwback to when Jake and I were in Ann Arbor last summer!

Friday Foodie…

It has been awhile since I posted a recipe, so here is a throwback!

So the other day someone sent me this recipe for sauteed chicken breasts called “simple chicken”.  Checking out the ingredients list, I was thinking “there is no way this is simple chicken”.  Paprika, salt. pepper, garlic powder, cayenne.  If it has more than 4 ingredients, it isn’t really simple in my book and I love to cook.

Also, I am not even sure I have paprika at home anyway, and if I put cayenne in it the kids probably won’t eat it.  So, I decided to throw caution to the wind and just “wing it”.   

I cut up the chicken into manageable pieces ( more like chicken tenders size).   Then I sprinkled greek seasoning all over it on both sides and set them in my saute pan with about 1 tsp of coconut oil.  I sauteed them under they were done, and then (ready for this?) poured 2 cups of heavy whipping cream (basically a pint of it) in the pan WITH the chicken and ALL the juices.  Put a lid on it, turn the head down and cook it for oh… another 8-10 minutes until the sauce thickened some.Then, you add a handful or so of Parmesan cheese to it, and let it cook down some more. It is okay if the cheese browns a bit, this makes it even more yummy!! 

 I chose to serve it over spaghetti noodles, with the chicken pieces & some of the sauce the first time I cooked it.   Now I make it normally with paprika and not greek seasoning – but either one would be good!  I also serve it with cous-cous and steamed peas. 





Counting Em’ Down

TEN of my favorite foods:

  1. Steak Flautas from pretty much any Mexican restuarant
  2. Grilled pizza
  3. Cheesecake
  4. those no-bake cookies with PB, oatmeal and lots of sugar (we call them fudgies)
  5. Shrimp
  6. Cheese grits from College Grounds
  7. Dark Chocolate ice cream w/marshmallows (ColdStone!)
  8. Hamburgers from Cook-Out
  9. lime sherbert
  10. Chocolate in just about any form

NINE of my all-time favorite movies:

  1. Hope Floats
  2. Sweet Home Alabama
  3. Steel Magnolias
  4. Bridesmaids
  5. Notting Hill
  6. Meet the Robinsons (Disney)
  7. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  8. Top Gun

Eight Celebrities I’d like to go on a date with…

  1. Eric Church
  2. Luke Bryan
  3. Thomas Rhett
  4. Justin Moore
  5. Channing Tatum
  6. Kenny Chesney
  7. Tim McGraw
  8.  Reese Witherspoon

SEVEN things I’m loving right now:

  1. The book about Detroit that I am reading.
  2. every second I get to spend with Jake
  3.  my oils team – killing it this month!
  4. that we are leaving for our honeymoon TODAY!
  5. country music
  6. countdown to football season  (3 days away!!!)
  7. students being back in our building

SIX places I’d like to visit someday:

  1. Mackinac Island
  2.  Young Living Farms in Utah.
  3. San Diego
  4. Key West
  5. Antigua to visit my friend Melissa
  6. Washington DC (to take the kids)

FIVE games I played as a child:

  1. Monopoly
  2. Life
  3. Rummy
  4. hide n’ Seek
  5. Wiffle Ball in our front yard

FOUR things I’d rather never see again:

  1. certain reality TV “stars” (honey boo-boo, teen moms, etc)
  2. anything my kids throw up (eww!)
  3. a replay of Marcus Lattimores knee injury or Kevin Ware’s broken leg
  4. Spiders.

THREE things I’d like to do this year:

  1. Lots of road trips with my kids!
  2. Thanksgiving in Richmond
  3. Surprise Jake with a trip “home” to Michigan

TWO facts about me:

  1. I had open heart surgery at the age of 5.  I have a nice long scar, but no problems since then.
  2. I suffered from pretty terrible PPD after I had Natalee, and I am very open about it.

ONE meaning behind my blog name:

  1. At the time I started VannClan5 – there were 5 members of our little family.  Clan rhymed with Vann, so it just stuck.   So, because I was recently married, and my last name is no longer Vann, I did buy:  http://www.careyfamily5.com

growing a tribe


Tribe – a distinctive close-knit group

You hear the word tribe so often in the blogging world – find your tribe, what tribe do you belong to?  Really, this can be applied to any group of people, not just within the blogging world.

My tribes have varied throughout my adult life. based on my age, where I’m living and really what’s going on in my life.  As I have gotten older my tribe seems to have settled into a core group of people and I can honestly say I’m happy with that.   I am always going to make friends, no matter where I go – but I think my core group of close-knit friends is going to remain the same for the rest of my life.

So often my tribes overlap (especially my oily-tribe & my Marine Corps tribe), more so as I get older and I become a little more choosy about who I keep close in my life.  I shy away from people who cause my anxiety to shoot up, and try to surround myself with positive people.  My Marine Corps “girlfriends” are one of my biggest tribes.  We share a common trait, we at one time or another were married (or are still married) to a U.S. Marine.  This is a bond that divorce or even death cannot break.   This group of girls have watched each other grow over the last 15 years, watched babies be born, marriages dissolve and military funerals happen.  We have supported each other when we were weak and we lifted each other when we fell.  This group of girls is something I am incredibly blessed to have in my life, and I cannot say that enough.

This last week, one of them started a post in the facebook group we share about how long we’d been a part of the group and how many of us have met in real life.   What followed was the most joyful, mood uplifting thing I have ever seen – post after post filled with photos of lunches and baby showers, movie nights and get-togethers.   Someone asked me “how do you feel knowing you started this all?”.   I honestly tear up when I think of it.   I started a little website for military families that i thought would last, at most – 6 months.  Much less still be there almost 15 years later.  While the main website has gone by the wayside, taken over by easier methods of social media – the bonds and friendships are there.

These girls, these amazing, wonderful women who are mothers, sisters, wives, and friends – these are my tribe, and with them I will grow.

Life Lately..

Eating – whatever is on the meal plan, we have been trying to stick to!   We do sometimes have to change things up, like Thursday night I had a ridiculous migraine, so Jake grabbed pizza and we had that for dinner.  Katie was babysitting on Friday night, so we did breakfast for dinner (brinner!)

Reading – I am reading Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story and let me tell you I am obsessed.  I fell in love with Detroit last year when Jake took me there, and the book is solidifying why I love this city so much.   I also have The Light Between Oceans to read on the plane next week if I finish the other book before then.

Watching –  Well, LivePD is off the air for a little while, the season finale was last weekend – so I’m not sure what we will do with our Friday & Saturday nights now.  Pretty soon Saturday nights will be all about college football, and we are pretty stoked about that!  We do have a few episodes left of America in Color, and then the series about First Ladies.  Also, we need to catch up on This Is Us before the series premiere later in September!

Shopping for typical back to school purchases, like glue sticks and dry erase markers were procured off amazon.com.   Also, on amazon I have recently purchased a garden flag, a flag pole for the mailbox, jewelry for the Michigan game and coffee creamer for work.   That amazon prime membership is getting a workout!   I also ordered Natalee a monogram for her clipboard off Etsy and Katie babysat for free twice to “earn” a Jeffrey Starr lipstick set she has been eyeing.  Jonathan will be getting new shoes soon (he wants some UnderArmor ones), so he hasn’t been left out!

Planning – meal planning now that school has started, along with finishing touches on our honeymoon!  It is less than 1 week away and I am so excited!

Listening – to Spotify, which is awesome.  I am music obsessed, that is well documented here on the blog.  I like it more than Pandora because it is uber-customizable!  I have a great mix of country, Christian, rap and rock all on here and unlimited skips!  (note; I do have the premium version, which is well worth it!)

Looking Forward to – well, our honeymoon next week obviously – but also, football season to start!  There are 3 seasons in our household, baseball season, football season and waiting for football or baseball season.

**this post may contain affiliate links which earn us a tiny bit of money when you click on them!**

Hulu & Swagbucks

If you’re a TV lover, Hulu is running a special on their offer through Swagbucks this weekend only: You’ll get $30 (paid in the form of points called SB) for trying Hulu for a month. That will cost you $7.99, so you’re making $22 on the deal!

Hulu has tons of current and classic programming, movies, brilliant original series, and more. Here’s how you do it:

1. Click this link. You need to be a Swagbucks member to take advantage of this offer, and if you don’t have an account you can create on here, which takes 30 seconds.
2. Click “Continue” and sign up for Hulu
3. Enjoy Hulu! You should have your points within 30 minutes. You must be a first time Hulu member to receive SB for this offer.

Haven’t tried Swagbucks yet? They’re a site where you earn points (called SB) for doing things like online shopping, watching videos, taking surveys, and discovering deals and services you might like to try (like Hulu!). You then take those points and turn them into free gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.    I do blog about them a great bit because I have earned over $300 in amazon.com gift cards so far this year.  I am on pace to completely pay for Christmas by earning gift cards through swagbucks!

This is a great time to join because when you sign up through the link above and get your 3000 SB, you’ll get a bonus 300 SB at the beginning of September. So that’s $30 (3000 SB) for trying Hulu plus your $3 (300 SB) bouns, which gets you 3300 SB, which means you make $25 total for trying Hulu!

BTS Shopping with Swagbucks


Through September 8th you’ll get double cash back (in the form of SB points) or more when you shop for Back to School essentials at your favorite retailers through Swagbucks. They also have offers where you can earn SB points towards free gift cards for trying school-related products and services. Then you can take all the SB points you earn and use them to get gift cards and PayPal cash!

Click here to see all of the deals they’re running, and if you sign up through me during this sale you’ll get $10 for making your first purchase! That’s in addition to the normal SB you get for your purchases.

Wedding Wednesday – pic drop!

Did you think the wedding posts would end after the wedding?  Yeah about that….sorry, not sorry.   Our photos from our photographers (the best!) will not be back until the end of the month or so.  For now, we rely on photos from family & friends!

Top – My nephew Kyler & my daughter Natalee…and then Jake & I during the ceremony
Middle – my sister in law Lynsay (left) with me and then Erin, one of my students & I.
Bottom – the kiss!!!!


August Meal Planning

It is almost that time for back to school, which means – normal meal times, set schedules and meal planning!   On our normal meal rotation we have:

  1. OMG Chicken with couscous & veggies
  2. Chicken & Rice Bake
  3. Grilled chicken with veggies
  4. Sloppy Joe’s with chips & fruit
  5. hot dogs with veggies
  6. pizza (we try to do this on Friday nights when the kids are with us)
  7. hamburgers (this is rare though)
  8. simple chicken with couscous & veggies
  9. BBQ beef & bowtie pasta (aka:  from scratch hamburger helper)

9, I can think of 9 things – what the heck?  I think our summer of crazy schedules and unplanned meals out has really affected my brain!  The nights that the kids go to Matt’s, we do things like ribs in the crockpot, salads and simple stuff.  

So, here is where I need help – what are some of your go-to meals for the back to school time?  

Link up in the comments!