Thursday, January 31, 2013


I thought it would be nice to link up with my friend Ryan today for Thankful Thursday since I spent yesterday sharing my woes. Not that there is anything wrong with sharing woes. I think it is really important to be real, especially when it comes to pregnancy. We girls tend to do a lot of comparing, self-criticizing, and trying to measure up to false standards set for us on the internet. Hello Pinterest... are those people real? I don't want this blog to ever be a place where I pretend to have all my junk together. 

But I also find it a healthy exercise to frequently count my blessings as they tend to be more numerous than I often realize. So here is a little list of things I am thankful for lately. 

1. I am thankful and flipping excited about my baby shower this weekend at home in Georgia. I can't wait to see so many people I love. I've got some really amazing friends and family. 

2. Our church. We have become a part of a really great church here in NOLA called Edgewater. It can be hard to find a church and we feel extremely blessed to be a part of this one. I could go on and on about it. 

3. Andrew's new job. Andrew got a connection through some new friends at Edgewater and is now working at the New Orleans Country Club. Not what he saw himself doing but a great opportunity nonetheless. We are excited, relieved, and blessed by this unexpected work. 

4. Flying home this weekend. Andrew now works every other weekend and as it turns out his first one is this weekend so he can't come to the baby shower. While I am sad about that, I am thankful to be able to fly home and avoid the long car ride. Thanks Don and Mama!

5. Lastly, I am thankful for the things God is teaching me right now. He has been gently showing me how His love is unconditional and completely unmerited by me. I am finding that there is so much freedom when I stop approaching my faith with a works based mentality and embrace the fact that because of Christ there is nothing I can do to earn or lose God's favor. No amount of prayer, Bible study, or "right living" (although those things are not bad) can make me any more righteous in His sight. 

Grace and grace alone people. 

And isn't it a relief?

Loved and Lovely... because Ryan is the coolest!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

And then there was Friday

The past few days or so some of the first trimester ickiness has crept back into my life. Remember the other day when I was going on and on about healthy eating and exercising more and how I felt so great and awesome and yada yada.... Yeah.

So last Friday I came down with a case of the crazies and it has not relented. I literally woke up sad and paranoid for no reason.  

It really was weird because over the past several weeks I have had moments where I thought the world was so full of sunshine and happiness that I might burst. Then BAM, Friday hit. 

I should have been suspicious about the sunshine and happiness thing in the first place because that is kind of not like me either. But darn if it doesn't feel good. 

So since Friday, I have unwillingly taken on the weight of the world. I have cried over things that merit tears but have nothing to do with my life and things that do not merit tears and have everything to do with my life. 

The two police officers shot in New Orleans, tears.

The rip in the sheets we got for our wedding, tears.

And the list goes on. 

Maybe it's letting up because I don't think I have cried in about 24 hours but I could be wrong. Being up since 2:00AM isn't helping my thought processes.

Did I mention I'm not sleeping well? That's an issue for another blog post. Or no blog post at all since it mostly has to do with me and my bathroom.

I know this will all go away soon which is why I can laugh about it. Just pray for my dear husband. God love him.

And just so you have living proof that hormones are real and unstable, here is an Instagram I posted last week before Friday.

Yea, that's a picture of the sunshine with a caption that read, "So good to feel hot and sweaty during a workout again! #bringonspring" 


If you want to follow the craziness, I'm chardonaldson. It's bound to be a good time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Can we talk about King Cake?

Of course we can... this is my blog. 


If you don't know what King Cake is, let me start by telling you it is the most delicious thing you can imagine.

More delicious than the delicious thing you imagined when I said that. 

Its like a cinnamon roll and a coffee cake and a donut got married and had a baby with icing on top. And yes, that is entirely possible both biologically and legally when it comes to food. 

I had no less than 8 pieces last week. The first 5 came from two different King Cakes that were bestowed upon me and the last 3 were from the one I finally purchased for myself. 

And that last one, it was the best. It didn't even come from a high falutin, old New Orleans bakery. It came from a donut shop in "da hood" where I currently reside. I'm pretty sure it was deep fried. 

And I'm OK with that. 

And so was my family with whom I reluctantly shared it.

And that is why I don't have a picture to show you. 

But here's one from the internet in case you wanted an example.

And here is what Wikipedia has to say about King Cake in case you are clueless about why I rambled out an entire post on the subject. 

I encourage you to enlighten yourself beyond the Wikipedia offerings and get a piece into your mouth as soon as possible. 

Although that could be difficult for you if you don't live in or near New Orleans, in which case you will have to live vicariously through me. 

Don't fret. I'll eat enough for the both of us.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Recipe, Rain, Research

And the Pioneer Woman does it again. 
We've been eating these this week and they are delish.
I took about 9000 shortcuts on this recipe and it was still pretty majorly great. 

I did not grate my own cheese. I did not cut up my own pineapple. I did not put a skewer through my pineapple. I did not pre-toast my tortillias. I did not use fresh jalapenos. 
And they were still the bomb. Try em!

In other news, the weather in this part of the country has gotten downright depressing. I can fully embrace a few cold and rainy days. I like to snuggle up with hot chocolate and be sleepy just as much as the next guy but after about three of those days I have reached my limit and currently we are pushing two weeks. 

It took me exactly one hour to get to the grocery store Monday because apparently when it rains people get into their cars and lose their minds. There was no danger involved in my taking this picture because I was going exactly 0 miles per hour... for a very long time.

We attended our first prenatal class last night. It was technically the second class but we missed the first one and are making it up in March. I was by far the least pregnant person there and the one taking the most notes. Five pages. Zeal is one of my best qualities. It was information overload and I am glad I have all of my notes to go back and do some research of my own on all the options for delivery. I am an information junkie and I want to know everything about everything that MIGHT happen to my body and baby. 

At the moment I feel like things tend to get a little over-medicated but I'm not ready to make any bold statements about that here on the blog. On the flip side, I am extremely grateful to be living in an age where we can know exactly what is going on with babies in delivery and have so many options for their health and safety. Amen? 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pregnancy Update

*Sorry for my less than stellar photography, dirty laundry in the background, etc. These pictures are usually an afterthought and we all know I don't have a big girl camera. Maybe one day?

Yesterday I turned 25 weeks pregnant and for some reason I felt like that was a milestone. Honestly, every week feels like a milestone but something about the number 25 seemed significant. 

We had a routine appointment on Friday. I had not thought much about it because thankfully everything has been smooth sailing so far. I went through my list of questions with the doctor and at the end she pulled out a tape measure for the first time to measure my stomach. 

After stretching the tape measure out over my belly she looked at me with a puzzled expression and asked, "How many weeks are you again?" I told her I was almost 25 and then said, "what, am I looking small?"

I am well aware that I am not a small person but people keep telling me that I don't look very pregnant so I just assumed that was what she was going to say. However, she turned to me and said no, actually I was measuring around 28-29 weeks. 

Say what?

For about 5 seconds I felt embarrassed that I thought I was smaller and then I started to feel really worried. She said sometimes the tape measures are off so we would do and ultrasound just to check and get a more accurate measurement. 

By the time we got in the ultrasound room we had waited another 45 minutes, giving me ample time to google every possible reason I could be measuring that big. Mind you, all of them indicated some sort of problem. I recommend against this particular practice. 

She did the ultrasound and determined that baby James was only measuring a little ahead (about a week to ten days) and might just be a big baby. She also let me know that everything else including fluid levels were right on track. 

Thank you Jesus. 

I breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed getting to see our little boy again. We reconfirmed that he is in fact, a boy. He left no room for doubt in that department and we got a hilarious picture that we will use as leverage one day when we need to embarrass him.

Otherwise, I am feeling as good as I expect I ever will during pregnancy. I am exercising again and it feels AMAZING. I mean it just really does something for my brain as much as my body. I am trying to get my arms and legs toned back up... don't know if this is realistic but I will try. 

This was 3 days after the last picture and I suddenly look huge!

I am FINALLY able to control my eating and not feel sick or like I can only tolerate crackers. This is a blessing I do not take for granted. I am loving being able to eat healthy things again that nourish the little guy  and make me feel good. Daily meals include Greek yogurt, blueberries, Kashi cereal, cottage cheese, nuts, apples, peanut butter, salads, lots of chicken, and veggies of all kinds. But I did eat two pieces of chocolate cake in a row yesterday, lest you think I am too healthy. I call this pregnancy prerogative. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I have always had extraordinary luck winning raffles. Of course I don't win every raffle I enter but I can confidently say I win a lot. 

I don't remember where I was or how I won my first raffle but I know I was somewhere with my dad. I won an enormous Coca Cola double umbrella. As a very little kid, the best part of that experience was the feeling of winning something. I'm not sure I would be excited about this even as an adult...

Another time, my dad took me to a minor league baseball game in Huntsville, Alabama. My ticket stub was drawn from all the tickets sold that day and I got to go down on the field and race the mascot around the bases for a chance to win 4 tickets to the Space Station. I was  an extremely slow 5 year old but the mascot was supposed to let the kid win so I secured the tickets and got to do a little space exploration at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. This was significantly cooler than a double umbrella. 

A few years later my mom signed me up for an etiquette class at our public library called "Tea and Etiquette with Alice." They were raffling off some pretty cool toys but the grand prize was an Alice in Wonderland Madame Alexander Doll. 


I loved Madame Alexander dolls. If you have never heard of them, they are beautiful keepsake dolls that every little girl would have in a perfect world. My mom collected them as a child so I had all of hers plus the ones I had been given. Of course you know where this story is going. I won the Alice doll that day at the etiquette class. 

I remember nothing that was said about place settings or napkins in laps. However, I do remember holding that beautiful little doll in my hands for the first time (and discovering my extreme dislike of strawberry cream cheese tea sandwiches). 

Sometime later I sent in a magazine insert for entry in a Nickelodeon sweepstakes which were super popular in the 90's. I didn't win the grand prize but I did win the third prize; a back to school pack with a zippered Nickelodeon trapper keeper, a pack of paper, and 3 Yikes pencils. Best. Day. Ever.

My most recent raffle winning happened this week. I have been attending an apologetics conference with Andrew that is being held here at the seminary. He goes all day and I join at night. Last night they raffled off a book by Mary Jo Sharp, who was actually the speaker for the evening. 

This may sound arrogant or whatever but I kind of had a feeling that I would win something. And sure enough, "Come on down Charlotte Donaldson!"

I was so excited to win because the book is actually written for women. I was a little afraid I would win one of the super academicky books they had been giving away and end up passing it to Andrew. (Not to say that women don't enjoy super academicky books, just not THIS woman.)

I even got to have it signed by Mary Jo who turned out to be a really brilliant speaker. All I could think to say to her when she was signing was that I liked her manicure.  I don't imagine she hears that very often immediately after a lecture on apologetics.

I've still yet to win a truly big raffle or sweepstakes but I am crossing my fingers for this year's HGTV Dream Home. 

Shoot for the moon right?  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Best of Pinterest Recipes

I noticed recently that my food board on Pinterest, lovingly entitled Food Glorious Food (Oliver!, anyone?), is by far the most pinned board I have. We are talking 193 pins. A full 92 pins more than the second place holder, my Home Sweet Home board. Go figure. 

I counted it up and so far I have actually tried 33 of the 193 pins. Almost exclusively entrees, appetizers, and side dishes. Rarely desserts. I have no idea why. Lord knows I have a sweet tooth. 

I also have no idea if this is normal. Do people actually put Pinterest ideas into practice? Am I going overboard? Underboard? Does it even matter? 

Probably not. 

Either way, I made a list of some of mine and Andrew's favorite recipes found on Pinterest. Of the 33 I've tried, about 8 have really stuck out. Those aren't great odds. Maybe I'm pinning the wrong things? Or maybe I'm not a great cook?

Or maybe I am asking too many questions? 

So here they are. In no order, our  top 8 Pinterest recipes... so far. 

Baked Potato Rounds
These were made exclusively to please my man and they did the trick. But really, who doesn't love potatoes, bacon, and cheese? (Other than Autumn, Kyle, and my stepmom Nancy.. they don't like cheese).

No Bean Chilli
Again, exclusively to meet Andrew's anti-bean requirements. But it was for realz good.

Easy Chicken and Dumplings
I've devoted a whole post to this one. 

Ham and Swiss Sliders 
Gracious merciful heavenly buttery cheesiness.

Sour Cream Chicken
Y'all, I make this over and over and over. Sometimes I mix sour cream and mayo and add Parmesan cheese. Easy peasy weeknight cheesy.

Chicken Divan
Another frequent flyer in my weeknight repertoire. Great for leftovers too!

Crockpot Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup
Tomato soup might be my favorite food on earth. Also, I don't like the taste of crock pots very much. I know that's blasphemy, forgive me. But this soup is to die for and can be done on the stove as easily as the crock pot so I take that route. Of the probably 5 or so tomato soup recipes I have tried, this is my fave. 

Santa Fe Chicken Salad
I probably made a batch of this for lunches 7 times last year. I actually made myself stop so that I wouldn't burn out. However, it is definitely time to bring it back!

So tell me, do you put Pinterest to practice in real life? If so, how does it usually turn out? Am I a total weirdo? 

Wait... don't answer that. 

And if you want to see more of my pins come follow me. And I'll follow you. And we will be a family. Amen.

UGA Subway Art

For Christmas I wanted to make my BFF Katie a little homemade gift.  I started with the idea that it would be fun to make her a cute Christmasy subway art for her new house and I came up with the simplest idea ever since I am not an overly inclined craft wizard.

Check it out:

First I found a really cute, free printable Christmas subway art. You can download it too if you want! Just click HERE and print away! Oh and if you want a billion more Christmas printables, just click HERE.

Then I purchased an 8X10 picture frame. A fancier one would have probably looked a little better but since this was a first time attempt with this project and I didn't want to ruin a fancy one, I got a really basic one. 

Next, I got a can of color coordinating spray paint and painted that bad boy bright red. 

Lastly, I put the printable in the frame and Voila!

Wait a second...

My frame is the perfect shade of Georgia Bulldog red. 


I had an explosion of thoughts and decided that it would be way more fun if Katie could use the frame at times other than Christmas and since she is the biggest Georgia Bulldog fan I know besides my dad, a UGA subway art would be PERFECT! 


I couldn't find a single downloadable one online. (Ok, so there was one but I didn't like it.)

I decided to dabble around with that amazing online photo editing site and make Katie a custom UGA subway art. Doesn't that sound fancy?

Y'all know I like to dabble... 

I'll be darned if the dern thing didn't turn out pretty dog-gone well. Can you tell I'm from South Georgia? 

So for kicks, I thought I would go out on a limb and share it for free with you all since there seems to be a lack of good (mediocre?) UGA subway art in cyberspace. 

To download my UGA Subway Art for FREE just click HERE

The image will open up in Google Docs/Drive. You might be able to print from there but if not, just click File then Download and it should open up in a format that you can print. 

If all else fails and you just NEED UGA Subway Art in your life, shoot me an email and I will be happy to send it to you in the format of your choice!

Linking up with these cool bloggers:
 YOLO Monday

Semi Homemade Mom

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 In Review

What a year! I don't think I have ever had a year I remember more vividly than 2012. Usually when I reflect on my previous year it seems like a long drawn out blur. I think it's because I am not typically one of those people who keeps up with things, but 2012 was different. I feel like every single month was distinct and the whole thing flew by in about 5 minutes. It's probably been the best year of my life. Not the easiest, but the best. Isn't it funny how sometimes the best is not the easiest or not even what you would have wanted had you been asked?

In January 2012 I would have predicted that my year might involve continuing to work at my job in mental health, Andrew continuing seminary at the nearest NOBTS extension center and working, maybe a new ministry job and possibly buying our first home and finally putting down some roots. 

January 2013 finds us in new jobs in a new city with a new member of the family on his way. 

It has been wild and unexpected in every way but I wouldn't change a thing!

Here are some of the highlights: 

Ringing in 2012 with Katie and Kyle and really hitting the YMCA hard to reach my fitness goals. I've never told  you this on the blog but I lost 56lbs between 2010-2012. 

Getting more active in helping with the FBC Valdosta youth group. Helping teach Sunday school to middle school girls and attending LOTS of fun festivities for my BFF Katie's engagement!

Best bachelorette weekend ever to Mexico Beach. Disney World world with the Donaldson clan and Katie's gorgeous wedding. Talks about buying the cute little green house AND the first discussion of moving to New Orleans...

Whirlwind of trips to Port St. Lucie, FL for Easter, and an amazing 4 day weekend in New Orleans. God confirmed the plans; goodbye Valdosta, hello NOLA!

Started the blog. Started packing up the little Valdosta house and preparing for our new adventure in the even smaller New Orleans dwelling. Gave my notice at my job. And joined a running club so I would be able to exercise in NOLA without my beloved YMCA!

Surprise birthday party, turned 25, family vacation to Panama City Beach, colonoscopy (it's not all fun and games), weekend trip to visit friends, more packing.

Family BBQ at my dad's, squeezing in LOTS of friend and family time, packing like crazy, yard sale, saying good bye to our jobs and finally moving to New Orleans!

Setting up the new apartment. Getting my new job in the Psychology and Counseling Department on campus, meeting new friends, and... finding out we are having a baby! 

*Congratulations on making it three weeks in New Orleans! First prize is a baby!*

Oh yea, getting evacuated for hurricane Isaac and having new twin nephews!

Completely failed at Andrew's birthday due to morning sickness. So far I owe him cakes for the past 2 years. Went to visit my dad in Tifton. And I pretty much threw up a lot. But the teeny tiny baby did well!

Continued to battle the morning sickness. Basically fell out of life altogether. Had a really hard time processing all the changes in my body and surroundings. Kind of hated New Orleans. Went and saw The Birds in the sculpture garden at the art museum. Decorated a little to feel more like home.

Finally started to feel a little better. Had a fun weekend with my sister in law in New Orleans as well as my friend Autumn. Did the color run with Leah and Stasia. Great Thanksgiving with the Donaldson's. Started coming back around to New Orleans.

Felt nearly 100% better. Found out we are having a BOY, Baby James! Finally got back in the kitchen and did things I love like having people over and decorating. Celebrated our 3 year anniversary and didn't take a single picture. Spent an amazing 12 day Christmas with all of our families in Bainbridge, Tifton, and Auburn. Got lots of fun baby things!!


And the crazy part is that 2013 is going to top it. Is that even possible?! 

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