{Holiday Gift Guide} Foodie BFF

I am the Foodie in this BFF equation. My kitchen is my happy place. I love to cook, grill, and bake. My Dad taught me how to grill, charcoal is the only way. And Ms. Dorothy my neighbor taught me how to bake and can. Yes I AJ know how to can. I haven’t canned anything in my adult life, but it’s go to know that I have that skill in my back pocket just in case we need it in the apocalypse. My Mom, she taught me how to cook. My cooking isn’t fancy, it’s a reflection of my country upbringing. We are meat and potatoes kind of people. Ya know hard working salt of the earth carb loving people.

Over the years I have amassed a collection of recipes, vintage Pyrex and kitchen gadgets that I use pretty frequently. I also have a collection of funny tea towels, oven mitts, and aprons with swear words. I am a sucker for the Pioneer Woman’s collection at Walmart, she is my spirit animal when it comes to whimsical floral patterns. Tongs? Little bowls?…… well I’ve got plenty and may be slightly addicted to them.

Did the thought of Pyrex, tiny bowls, and swearing aprons give you the sweats? Or did the thought of having to find the perfect gift for your foodie friend make your tummy turn? Well I am no expert shopper, but gift giving is my love language and I am here to help. Have no fear below are my top gift finds. Happy Shopping!

Walmart

Pioneer Woman 2 Pack Slow Cooker
Pioneer Woman Cow Butter Dish
Nutribullet

Target

Tea Kettle
Sauté Pan

Amazon

Rainbow Silverware

Blue Q ~ For that Bestie with an Attitude

Fuck Off Apron
Burrito Dish Towel
I’m Drunk Oven Mitt

Ingredients ~ so your Bestie can make you food when you come over for a visit!

Flavor God Seasonings
Lesley Elizabeth
Old Southern BBQ Store
Cheese Curd Capital

*Note: We were not compensated for this post nor are we affiliated with the retailers and products listed in our Holiday Guide. Product Photos are from their respected retailers websites.

-AJ

Solo Travel

I am the coupled half of this BFF equation. Jay is my partner and the behind the scenes tech guy for our podcast. Jay and I have been together for six years. And I am not going to hide it, it hasn’t always been bliss. Relationships are work. And you reap what you sow. We had to work through our differences and give up our single life habits. We butt heads. We annoy each other with our weird little habits. We argue over petty things and laugh until our bellies hurt. And if you do this to, it’s perfectly normal. No relationships is Hallmark Movie perfect.

Don’t get me wrong I love Jay but sometimes a girl just needs time to herself. So I make time to take myself on a solo trip. Jay takes care of the cats and Cullen goes to his grandparents house. Cullen is an asshole and won’t walk for Jay, hence why he goes to Grandmas. I make sure to FaceTime with Cullen so he knows his mama still loves him. The cats and Jay can fend for themselves. Just kidding, I check in with Jay to let him know that I am alive. If I don’t he panics…..

I know a lot of people are afraid to travel alone. Don’t be afraid to do it! Just make sure you let people know where you are going, what you will be doing and when you are expected to return. If you rent a car send the car info and license plate number to your spouse or friend. Ride share, you can share your route in the app and they can watch in real time to ensure you arrive safely. Be smart. Be aware of your surroundings and have fun. This is your trip! You deserve that drink at the bar, walk on the beach, and dinner at a sidewalk cafe.

I am the trip planner for my family and Jay. Solo trips allow me to have a blissfully unplanned agenda. I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. Plus I get a bed all to myself and I can set the hotel room temp to my liking. I can sleep in and order room service or I can wake up early to watch the sunrise. I can grab some OJ from the breakfast bar and sit in the courtyard watching the lizards run around. Groupon is one of my go tos for getting a deal on tours and activities in the city I’m visiting. Also check in with the front desk, they often have coupons for activities or insight on what’s happening during your stay.

Don’t be afraid to dine alone. We all have to eat and you can get fast food at home. Not sure where to go, Yelp is a good tool to find what’s good in the area. Walk into the restaurant and enjoy yourself, this is after all your vacation. While dining alone I’ve had a lot of great conversations with waitstaff and even shared tables with random strangers. Take photos of your food and fruity drinks. Talk to the waitstaff, ask if there is a must do activity/place to visit during your stay. But mostly enjoy yourself!

Worried about collecting photo proof of your trip? Hello!? Have you not heard of a selfie stick? Yes a selfie stick is your friend, use it and take beautiful photos of yourself. Take photos of the scenery, including the hot guy or girl you spy at the pool (just don’t be suspicious). Take videos! Take lots of videos. And girl, take yourself shopping. I love looking for products that are unique and made in the area that I am visiting. I like to look for little things like magnets, Christmas ornaments, and coffee cups. Oh and in case you are wondering, yes booze flies well, just put it in your checked bag. So go visit a local distillery, brewery, and winery. Bring some home and share it with friends or keep it for yourself. Buy whatever makes you happy.

Outside of shopping, sipping on wine, and sight seeing, I like just sitting and hearing my own thoughts. That’s what I love most about solo trips is just sitting and listening to my soul. I am able to relax which allows me to come home refreshed. A refreshed less stressed me is good for my real . I am thankful that I have a partner who understands and supports my solo trips. Now the only question is, where will you wander?

-AJ

All The Single Ladies

Being single is waking up every morning with unlimited possibilities for the day.  You can roll out of bed at noon or wake up at 6 am slamming the cupboard doors without worrying about anyone else but yourself.  It’s the ability to be spontaneous and self-ish.  It’s also the ability to be lazy and indulgent without judgement.  

Women spend too much of their time searching for the right person, going down so many rabbit holes with men that just aren’t right for them.  We get the idea that marriage is some kind of reward, but most of the time it’s a prison sentence. You think you found the right person or almost the right person, he just needs a few tweaks, right?  You think your relationship now is the way it’ll always be, but forgetting that people change with time.  They can grow and become a better or version of themselves or pretend they did. 

Don’t get me wrong… some relationships are fantastic and grow with ease.  Couples can be respectful of each other and encourage each other to be better people.  It happens, but I don’t think it happens as often as we’d like to believe.

I have been single for so long and it took me a while to come to terms with …. Enjoying it. I like being single.  I like getting good sleep at night and making plans that I can cancel. I like choosing to not do things that I do NOT want to do.  I have the ability to do that.  I don’t have to bite my tongue to make someone else happy.

Don’t tell me you married people don’t do that? I’ve seen you do it. I’ve heard you complain about it… and I’ve rolled my eyes at it. 

I’m sure there are pros to being in a relationship or being married (double income?), but here’s a few pros for the single life:

This movie called Life is all about you all the time

You don’t need to share the limelight with anyone else, but yourself.  When you make a decision about your day,  a haircut, the clothes you wear, adopting a fourth pet, buying a home, sleeping early, or staying out too late, you don’t have to check in with anyone, but yourself. 

“Hello? Sherri?  Yeah, this is Sherri.  I’ll be staying out late tonight.  Why? Because I feel like it”

End of story. 

Becoming Spontaneous

I’m not a spontaneous person, but it’s nice to have the option to hop on a flight to Las Vegas with your bestfriend for a long weekend of… whatever it is people do in Vegas these days. Did I mention you can adopt an animal without having to fear what your partner will think, because that “partner” doesn’t exist.  You live alone with 6 cats and 3 dogs and it’s glorious.  

What?  You think that’s a bad thing? How is that bad?

Drinking Without Judgement

1 glass of wine, 1 bottle of wine. Who’s counting? Your dog?  I don’t think so. 

Ruling over the Remote Control

That’s right, I rule over all the remotes in my household all the time.  Yes, even when I have guests come stay. I let them know who is boss in my house.  I mean, usually I’m nice enough to let them watch what they want, but don’t piss me off. I can change the wifi password if I choose to. 

I can watch a Hallmark movie or choose to not watch the Vikings lose every Sunday.  It’s 100% up to me and only me. 

Eating Whatever You Want

Sort of the same as drinking.  You eat 1 cupcake or 6?  Who’s counting?  Maybe the dog, but it’s only because they want a cupcake too! You don’t have to consider what anyone else likes or dislikes. If you decide to get healthier you don’t have to worry about being distracted when your partner chooses to bring home the foods you crave.

Silence

You know what I’m talking about…

New Hobbies

Guess what? You don’t have to explain to anyone why you decided to meditate or do yoga.  Or start putting together puzzles.  Or start a podcast with your bestie.  Or decide to make blankets.  Or clean out all your closets, because you are having an emotional breakdown and don’t know who you are anymore, but cleaning might help.  You don’t have to explain it to anyone. You could explain it to a therapist if you choose to. 

Time for Yourself

I feel like this is so important in life. We all need to time to get to know ourselves, know what we want or don’t want in life. You have time to experience the things you want to do without having to explain why. It’s the time spending on the couch or a long hike. It’s the getting away without feeling guilty.

The feeling of knowing I am an independent woman.

It doesn’t matter if you own a house or rent an apartment on your own – You have done what many women before us were not able to do.  Be independent.  Make choices.  We get called “old maids” or “spinsters” if we don’t have someone else, but the reality is we are just bad ass bitches.  We don’t need someone to take care of us. We don’t need to take care of anyone to feel validated in life.  

If you find that special someone – good for you.  Never change for them, don’t force them to change for you, be happy with where you are in life, in this moment, because our society changes every single day.  If we can change it to normalize women being single, happy and independent we can make this country and world a better place. 

-Sherri

{Surviving} A Toxic Marriage

I was that annoying girl in college. You know the one who had perfectly crafted vision boards lining her dorm room walls. I had my entire life planned out. I had everything on a time line, go to law school at 23, get married at 25, and have my first kid when I was 27. And one day as Fate always does she took my perfectly crafted boards and turned them into a burning heap.

Law school!? Ha! I got accepted but never went. I chose to get married to someone who wouldn’t wait for me to finish. He told me “you can make a new dream.” The only thing on my timeline that I got right was married at 25 and after my wedding my line melted into a hot mess.

My marriage was perfect in the streets. But behind closed doors it was a mess . I fell in love with a man who only loved the idea of loving me. He had a sex addiction and put me in situations that no one should ever put their wife in. On top of that there was the daily mental and emotional abuse. He would constantly tell me that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough. That my weight is what drove him to sleep with other women and if I was skinny he wouldn’t do it. He took my light and I began to loose who I was. I believed him when he said “you will never make it on your own.” So I stayed, I stayed in a toxic marriage.

Time and time again he chose the other women over me. When I was in the hospital recovering from a pulmonary embolism and stoke (more on that later), I looked over to see him on Craig’s list looking for his next fix. It didn’t matter to him that his wife had just fought for her life, his needs were greater than mine. Frankly he cared more about the bill we’d be receiving than my actual healing. I should have left him then, instead I stayed

I stayed and ended up getting pregnant. It was an unplanned but very wanted surprise. Even in pregnancy he managed to cut me down. He didn’t like the fact that I was gaining weight and didn’t have a sex drive. It became normal for me to come out in the morning to an adjusted drivers seat. While I slept he roamed. He told me it was my fault because I got pregnant and he didn’t find me attractive.

My pregnancy wasn’t meant to be. He was in Vegas when I heard the words “I’m sorry there is no heart beat.” I called to tell him the news and he refused to fly home. He was to busy in someone else’s bed to care about his wife and now dead child. Now Sherri, Sherri did what no friend should have to do. She showed up on my doorstep, took me to the hospital and stayed with me until it was time for me to go back to surgery. She was there when I said goodbye to a son that I never got to hold. She did what my ex-husband wasn’t man enough to do, she stood by me as I breathed in the hard reality of pregnancy loss.

Sherri became a safe space for me and little by little I told her what was going on in my marriage. She slowly planted the seeds that I was good enough and capable of living on my own. Losing my son taught me that I was stronger than I could ever imagine and one day I woke up, and I took my life back. I sent Sherri a text telling her I was done and wanted to look at apartments. I left my ex-husband on that same day.

A week later I had an apartment and I moved out of my perfect suburban home. Sherri did not judge me or ask questions, she just showed up and packed. Leaving a toxic relationship isn’t easy. The last words he ever said to me were “you will never make it on your own! You will fail! No one will love you.” His words, they became my fuel. I didn’t want him to win, so I fought tooth and nail for a better life. Little by little I found myself again. I thought I had worked through my marriage on my own and that I was healed. Boy was I wrong. My emotions would bubble up to the surface and I’d shove the shame back down. Until I put on my big girl pants and found a therapist.

I finally walked into a therapist’s office four years after my divorce. Truth, I should have gone to therapy sooner. I laid everything down for Ms. Emily and she didn’t judge me. She explained to me that I had been mentally, emotionally, and sexually abused. Until that moment I never saw myself as abused. To me abuse meant physical like beating your wife and it didn’t happen to professional women like me. She explained that mental and emotional abuse are the worse forms of abuse as they leave no physical scars. Instead they leave a lifetime of pain that no one but you can see. Simple words or situations trigger me and send me back to my marriage, PE/Stroke, and death of my son. Ms. Emily diagnosed with PTSD and told me “it’s perfectly ok, you’ve been through hell dear.” She was right, I had been through hell. I wasted so much time trying to distance myself from the trauma instead of healing. The first step in the healing process was learning how to love myself and once I did that everything else fell into place and I’ve never looked back.

If you’re reading this and nodding your head, I want you to know that you are not alone. I’ve been where you are and I know how scary it is. The first step is the scariest one to take, after you take it the rest will surely follow. And I know in my heart that you can do it. You are strong and you are enough. You can and you will make it on your own. Don’t be like me, seek a therapist right away and work through the trauma you just left. And of course if you need a friend you can tune into our podcast. I promise my post divorce and dating blunders will make you laugh. Laughter is good medicine and you my dear need the strongest available dose.

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance please visit the links below: RAINN

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Know the signs of Domestic Violence

Teen Dating Violence

-AJ

Here We Go!

A few weeks ago we decided to create a podcast!  We are working on content ideas and ways to engage our audience. 

Speaking of an audience… we are working on gathering an audience through social media.  We currently reside on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. 

TikTok: @MaybeSwearingHelps

Instagram: @Maybe_SwearingWillHelp

Twitter: @SwearingHelps1

Please reach out to us on social media!  We’d love to talk with people who are interested in what we are doing. We will also be putting out requests for people to write in on certain topics that we will discuss during the show. 

Once we have a firm date set for our first podcast show we will announce it!

Until then – maybe swearing will help get this project done?!

AJ & Sherri

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