Tom and I’s NFC and AFC Predictions…

Well, while my Carolina Panthers’ season ended weeks ago, four teams still remain. By the end of Sunday, we’ll know which two teams will contest Super Bowl LIII. The Kansas City Chiefs are set to host the New England Patriots for the right to represent the AFC. While the New Orleans Saints, will host the Los Angeles Rams for the right to represent the NFC.

Both games are rematches from the regular season, which both teams were evenly matched and should be wildly entertaining.

It’s got an E! True Hollywood Story vibe these 2019 edition of the conference championships. It’s a quarterback duel between a seasoned vet and a young stud with something to prove in each matchup. Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes will be phenomenal. I would love to see the young and humble Mahomes deflate the oversized ego of Cry Brady. On the other hand, I would also love to see my nemesis Drew Brees find his kryptonite in Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams’ defense. Whichever we get in the NFL’s final game is going to be exciting and yes slightly disappointing-I wish my Panthers were there again.

As I sit here and ponder exactly what the outcome of these games will be (in my 2015 NFC Conference Championship t-shirt thank you VERY much) here are my predictions of what will go down.

Game 1: Los Angeles Rams VS New Orleans Saints

Tom and I’s Prediction: 31-24 LA Rams

Keys to Rams success: Having Donald and Suh get pressure on Brees and being disruptive. Stopping both Kamara and Thomas. Limiting the big plays by the Saints and not turning the ball over, for Saint are known for converting turnovers to points and swinging the moment quickly. Rams have to establish the run game with Gurley and Anderson. By doing this they can have long drives and keep Brees on the sideline. The longer Brees is over there the better the Rams chances of winning are.

Game 2: New England Patriots VS Kansas City Chiefs

Tom and I’s Prediction: 38-35 KC Chiefs

Keys to Chiefs success: The play of Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has been the Chiefs rock all year with his dynamic play making ability and he needs to be the best version of himself. The offensive line can help him out by protecting him and giving him time. They also can’t forget the run game, much like the Rams against the Saints, the Chiefs need to keep Tom Brady on the sidelines as long as they can. Getting the run game going help this greatly. The Chiefs also need to make the most of their opportunities. If they force the Patriots to a 3 and out or get a turnover, they need to make something out of it and get points. Against Tom Brady those are far and few in between, and I wouldn’t want to go score for score with Brady and the Patriots.

Either way it’ll be a knock out, drag out between four contending teams, one I intend on getting a pint of Halo ice cream and enjoying as much-as a football fan who’s team is also watching from their couch-can.

What are your predictions? Leave a comment below and Keep Pounding!

Love you. Mean it.

Brittany

Xoxo

An Open Letter To Thomas Davis: No Matter What Lies Ahead We’ll Always Love You.

Dear Thomas Davis,

When I first read the news that after 14 seasons you would not return to us I felt hurt, angry, and confused. To be honest the first thought that popped into my head was the unceremoniously infamous way we parted ways with Steve Smith. I wanted to fly to Charlotte, march into the front office and demand they reinstate you before security was called and I would no doubt be removed kicking and screaming. Several days removed I was able to understand why they did this, and while intellectually I understand it’s a business and we need to give Shaq Thompson his time to prove himself as more then a backup, I want you know you’ll always be a Panther to me.

You always played at a high level, and I understand why you’re not ready to hang up your cleats. You’re a go-getter to the highest extent and I know whatever team inherits your talent will gain someone truly special: a leader, a dedicated teammate and friend, someone they can be proud of on and off the field. Please know, however, we’re only letting that team BORROW YOU because you will ALWAYS be a Panther to both the Queen City and ALL of us fans.

It doesn’t matter if you spend two or three years as a Lion, a Bengal, a Bear or a Falcon. If you find your next opportunity as a Buccaneer or-please dear God don’t ever go to the Saints. You will always be a Carolina Panther and the epitome of “Keep Pounding”.

I can talk about your stats, which are impressive and speak volumes for themselves but I’d rather talk about you as a person who I was proud represented my team OFF the field as well.

You came back, not once, but THREE times from potentially career ending injuries. You’ve done so much for the community that you’ve earned yourself the Walter Payton Man Of The Year award and you’ve been the leader to a team who often looked to you in terms of how to grow both on and off the field. You’ve inspired us fans to never give up, and have supported us through our victories and disappointing shortcomings. You and your family will always be a part of the blueprint and glue that holds Carolina together. We love you and we know you love us too no matter where your career may end, I hope all roads lead back to Carolina for a 1 day contract where you end your professional career in Charlotte.

Please know, Thomas, you’re a Panthers legend in you’re own right and no matter what lies ahead we will always love you and wish you the best of everything! Keep Pounding!

Love you. Mean it.

Brittany

Xoxo

Walking Your Way To A Healthier Life

Today I walked 12.07 miles, took 25,827 steps and hit another personal goal for the New Year. Two years ago, even four years ago I would’ve never dreamed that I could accomplish this goal. On a good day, if I walked 2-4 miles that was an accomplishment in and of itself but today to hit this milestone is both self-inspiring and amazing.

Those of you who’ve followed my blog since the beginning know I’ve struggled mightily on my anxiety, weight and stress. It’s a very real and very unglamorous part of life, however walking has helped me so much. I have even suffered from less panic attacks then I did since changing my diet. In addition to this, I can better maintain my weight and control how much extra calories/ carbs I burn that allow me to indulge here and there. Finally in addition to my job as a secretary which is so much less stressful then being a preschool teacher, I sleep so much better and through the night. Walking has transformed my body, mind, spirit and endurance so much so that I wanted to share three tips to help jumpstart you on your own journey of walking (if that’s what I’d like to do).

1. Start off small and don’t get discouraged

Beginning my journey I started to feel the burn after 3 miles. I set little goal for myself, my first month I agreed to walk 3 miles a day. As my endurance built I added one extra mile to each day a month. Before I had my treadmill, I was at the mercy of the weather and worked my endurance up to 6 miles a day but after I got that missing piece of the puzzle the sky has been my limit. Building endurance is important especially in the early phases of conditioning your muscles to avoid tears, start off small and at the next month add one extra mile to your routine. Before you know it you’ll be up to ten miles a day which brings me to my next point…

2. Alternate between high intensity days and low intensity days

Your muscles do need time to heal especially after a strenuous walk, jog or run. While walking is so much less strain on your muscles and joints, taking breaks are equally as important to give your body time to recover. If you walk 10-12 miles in one day, aim for 5-6 the next day. Alternating your routine will give your body time to recover between high intensity workouts. Sometimes it’s best to give yourself a full and honest break, if you’re like me and can’t sit still there are other options. For instance, if you have another hobby (like yoga) it’s good to do this on a low intensity day to keep you remaining active but not over exerting yourself, which brings me to my final point to make…

3. Stay hydrated

Drinking lots of water should be a part of any great and healthy workout regiment. As a staple I stop every 15-20 minutes to drink 16 ounces of water, not only does this keep my body hydrated it keeps my muscles from cramping up. If dehydration in athletes is a serious thing which leads to muscle injury imagine what it would do to any ordinary person with no to little conditioning. That’s why it’s always important to drink plenty of water to help your body heal.

If you follow these three tips you’ll be off to a great start and able to follow through with your New Years resolution of staying active and fit. You don’t need a local gym, all you really need is a treadmill or a nice day outdoors and the drive to push yourself.

Happy and Healthy New Year to all my readers!

Love you. Mean it.

Brittany

Xoxo

2018 is coming to a close

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ says the LORD, ‘plans for your welfare, and not for calamity, to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Things In Which We Are Grateful For This Year:

Tom and I are grateful to be celebrating our 3rd year married and our 11th year together (it’ll be 11 years March of 2019) of being each other’s soulmates, best friends and greatest blessing in life. The fact we are surrounded by the unconditional love and support of our families and dearest friends will always mean the absolute world to us. We are grateful for our big boy five year old fur baby, Draco, who brings so much joy and sunshine to our lives each day. We’re grateful for our home which we’ve now lived in for four and half years and our jobs which allow us the opportunity to live comfortably and also have some extras to focus on our plans for the future (stay tuned with that). Most of all we’re grateful to every single one of you, who’ve touched and enriched our lives in some way, shape or form… In case Tom and I do not get to say it at Midnight, we pray that the LORD grant unto you (our family and dearest friends) a happy, healthy and successful 2019. We pray also for your families and friends whose paths we haven’t crossed yet that they too have a happy, healthy and successful 2019. We pray that your struggles and sorrows are so few, that it’s quadrupled by your laughter and happiness. We pray that may you live each day with trust in the LORD GOD that he will guide you where you are meant to be and we ask that you pray for us too.

Thank you to everyone who helped share, promote or read ‘Are You There Friday? It’s Me Brittany’

Happy New Year to each and every one of you! See you in 2019!!’

Love you. Mean it.

Brittany

Xoxo

December 2018: Looking forward while reflecting back.

Hello my dearest fan friends!

Being that the Christmas weekend is upon us I just wanted to use this post for the week to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas from my family and I.

I really have so much to be grateful for as this blog has grown exponentially in the last seven months that I am really blessed with the direction that it is going in. 2019 is going to be a awesome year for this site I’m going to be opening up about very real issues that people sweep under the rug, reviewing some really awesome low-carb alcoholic alternatives, introducing some new DIY’s and showcasing some of my artwork. I will also be posting on Fridays and on Sundays during 2019 (with Sunday’s focus being on my NHL and NFL picks of the week). I really love sports and any of my friends who know me personally outside of this blog knows that I’m very passionate about hockey and football so I definitely do not want to neglect my love for sports and what better way to implement that then on Sundays?

November 28 I celebrated one year low carb and gluten free and I must say I am incredibly healthier and happier. I weigh less than I did my sophomore year of high school and I couldn’t be proud of how much more active I’ve become not only in exercising but in finding recipes to accommodate my new lifestyle so I can showcase them on this blog. Hearing about people trying them at home and not feeling like they’re missing out anymore is the whole reason I dedicated an entire section of this blog to low carb recipes. You can expect 2019 to have a lot more low carb recipes to share.

Being a writer in the age of the Internet where so many topics have already been explored is very tough and through it all I’ve had some really amazing people in my corner that had been really pushing me on this journey. I would like to also take this moment to give a very special shout out to my family both near and far especially: Tom, Draco-Sirius, Mom, Dad, Joseph, Joe, Mike, Sarah, Allison, Carol, Otto and my nieces and nephews (Elsie, Ben, Olivia and soon to be nephew number 4). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my Aunts Maureen and Katie, my awesome Uncle Louie and cousins John, Arlene, James, Monica, Marybeth, Keith, Kathleen, Shannon, and Lisa for always be interested in what I’m writing about and sharing my work often and relentlessly. Honorable mentions go out to: Michael, Sean, Jamesey, Luke and Katie who are technically my cousins’ children but they’re more like my first set of nieces and nephews and they’re brutally honest with me if they think a topic is good or trash. Supporting the family writer isn’t always cookies and cream but having a wonderful support system to bounce ideas off of and read back what I wrote to is really essential and I’m really blessed that I have that.

That said, I would be extremely remiss if I failed to mention the family that I chose and those are my friends who’ve relentlessly shared and liked my Facebook page. These people have really inspired me as a person and also helped me grow as a writer. I value them and their opinions as much as I value my blood family members. In all ways and for all intents and purposes the following people are my family whether we technically share blood or not so at this moment I’d like to give a special shout out to: Jen (down since day one), Alex C (please check out his podcast Sports Opinions Podcast it’s incredible and you won’t regret it), David, Nate, Nino B (an up and coming rapper), Alex TV, Sachi, James C, Andrew (my cousin), Jim S, Joey O, Angry Joe, Todd, Justin C, Jessica S, Marisa, Rob and Alice C, Bobbie, & last but never least Ashley (Who is also an amazing writer and spends a tremendous amount of time proofreading my side projects and I don’t know what I’d do without her).

I hope your Christmas is incredibly special, next Friday I will be counting down my top five favorite posts of 2018 which will definitely be hard but I hope you join me on this journey by commenting below and letting me know which posts you liked seeing best so that I can implement them more in 2019.

Love you. Mean it.

Brittany

Xoxo

To Card OR Not to Card; That Is The Question!

Our Card on picture paper (L) and tan card stock (R)

Are you sending holiday greeting cards this year? I am, but not in the traditional sense. Holiday/Christmas cards from friends and relatives are always a bright spot in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Whether it be seeing how much our friends’ kids have grown, seeing relatives from out of state posing happily in dressy attire, or family/friends’ pets wearing Santa hats, I love receiving these cards. As tempted as I am to “return the favor” the cost of stamps is really a dampener in my getting in the holiday spirit. In the four years I’ve been “adulting” or living on my own with my husband though we haven’t actually mailed a holiday card. No, we’re not the Grinch family — really we’re not. In fact, Tom and I truly love the holiday season.

But coupled with the expenses with gifts during the holiday season we DO have a thing about spending time and money on holiday greeting cards. I’m totally aware that I’m in the minority. Hallmark reports Christmas is the largest card-sending holiday in the United States with approximately 1.5 billion cards sent every year! Find that hard to believe? Well, according to The U.S. Census Bureau roughly about 2 billion cards will be mailed and delivered during the holiday season, with the heaviest period occurring the week before Christmas.

Before you judge me in my protest of sending a card via the US Postal Service, let me explain my issue. Greeting cards can be expensive, and it takes a lot of time to sign and address each one. At 50 cents a stamp, if I were to send out 150 cards to friends and relatives that would be $75.00. Yep, $75.00 for a card that will end up tossed in a keepsake box and forgotten about OR thrown out. That’s a lot of money for an item that probably is barely read and then tossed in a holiday card holder.

Sure, it’s nice to open a card and realize someone was thoughtful enough to think of you this year. I particularly like the “let me catch you up” newsletters which are super interesting when you haven’t seen someone in a while. I get so many cards each year and didn’t want to seem like a stiff so began my holiday conundrum: how do I send a card without breaking bank to do so?

The answer came to me while at work, checking my email: why can’t we accomplish the same thing with an emailed holiday greeting? Service providers like Shutterfly offer multiple holiday templates that you can personalize with images, videos, and messages that will reflect your business or organization. If it’s appropriate, you can also link to photo albums that are hosted on sites like Flickr or the Kodak Gallery. I love seeing photos online. In fact, I’m more likely to keep digital photos than I am hard copies.

Finally, e-cards don’t kill trees. I’m not an avid environmentalist, but I do think it makes very little sense to use a natural resource for a card that has limited impact. Certainly, there are cards made from recycled products, but how many people choose to use them?

There are, of course, a few exceptions to my “no holiday card” sentiments, and that’s people who have not yet embraced technology. For example, I could never send an e-card to my Father-in-law, Otto, because he doesn’t have and is adamantly against getting email address. So, of course, he’ll be getting our card printed out on Kodak picture paper and handed to him by us this year.

I know what you’re thinking, sounds good but how do I do this? As mentioned above there are plenty of service providers online that could provide you with templates to use that will fit your own individual style for you and your family. I, however, took a very basic route:

Beginning with a blank Microsoft Word 2003 document, I carefully crafted a “Year In Review” style Christmas card. It was simply designed and to the point. I chose TWO of my favorite pictures from the year and added each of our ‘Top Moments of the Year’. The pictures I picked were of Draco and of us at our mutual Top Moment of the Year (which was attending a friend’s wedding). Then I broke it down into three sections: Draco’s, Tom’s and Myself’s top three moments of the year.

I’m one to keep things short, sweet, and to the point, no need to tell you ALL the details of my entire year it’s not necessary and it’s time consuming. The top three helps give friends and relatives a glimpse into your life without giving away TMI.

Next, I created a Facebook status explaining to friends and family that I’d like to e-mail them our holiday card from this point forward. Then, I emailed each person our card and explained to them in the body of the email that they can print out the card from the comfort of their home, which won’t cost them anything but ink which they already have on their computer. Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind!

Ultimately every family is different and what I did this year and every year going forward is ultimately what is best and most cost-efficient for my family. I will close this post with an open question to my readers: What do you think of Christmas Cards? Do you have plans to send one this year, either through regular mail or email?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below, I LOVE hearing from you!

Love you. Mean it.

Brittany

Xoxo

How My Carolina Panthers Can Salvage Their Season

With only four games left in the regular season many Panthers fans are wondering if Santa will come early and save our season. When I think of this season I’m reminded of Key and Peele skit (You can check the skit itself out here) where Andre is chasing after his girlfriend saying “Meegan your jacket!!” Only instead of a jacket it’s me shouting out to my beloved team “Panthers your season!!!” and while for the last four games there seemed to be a resounding “No” on whether or not we’d pull out a win the chance of making the playoffs are not exactly out of the question, not yet. The Panthers can still manage to sneak into the playoffs if they work on the following things that are holding them back, of course.

The biggest issue with the Panthers is the turnover differential in losses is -10, while the turnover differential in wins is +11. What this all boils down to is the Panthers are needing to have better ball security on offense and needing to be more aggressive on defense to create more turnovers. On offense there is plenty of big play potential with the talented likes of Christian McCaffrey , Curtis Samuel, and DJ Moore, but they can’t force the ball in there especially when the play isn’t there. The room for improvement on the offensive line is evident in the need to give Cam more time to be able to survey and look for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th options. The Panthers don’t seem to have a problem moving the ball down the field, but once in the red zone the last few weeks they have either turned the ball over or had to settle for field goals, some of which were misses. If the Panthers want to win games they need to get the ball in the end zone whenever they enter the red zone.

On the other side of the ball the defense needs to again be more aggressive. Being able to blitz more, get more quarterback pressures, sacks, and cause general disruptions to make opposing quarterbacks make bad decisions is absolutely key in the long term success of this team. As far as coverages go, Bradberry playing man coverage with Reid on deep help is effective, as evidenced in holding the Buccaneers star wide-receiver Mike Evans to only having 6 catches for 54 yards in 2 games. Donte “Action” Jackson being present on the other side gives the Panthers the speed and play making ability to make up for any missteps in man coverage.

Recently in Panther nation there has been a wide range of calling for Coach Rivera’s job, the removal of defensive line coach Brady Hoke and cornerbacks coach Jeff Imamura are proof that Ron is trying to ruthlessly right ship. Brian Urlacher has recently gone on record saying that Ron is a very aggressive play caller on defense and I am inclined to agree so this seems to be the step in the right direction.

The Panthers are in a must win situation this Sunday as they take on the Cleveland Browns if they went to keep their playoff chances alive. The next three games afterwards will be no cakewalk as they take on the dominating Saints and demoralized Falcons who will no doubt jump at the shot to play spoiler to the Panthers post season hopes. The Panthers need to tighten up and take the reigns of their own destiny. Veteran players such as Julius Peppers, Thomas Davis, Mike Adams and Captain Munnerlyn aren’t getting any younger and with Greg Olsen now gone for the rest of the season after re-injuring his foot it’s time we get our act together to give this guys a proper send off into retirement (when they decide the time is right).

Whether or not the Panthers have what it takes to make the postseason , we’ll just have to stay tuned and see but I am desperately trying to remain the eternal optimistic.

Keep Pounding.

Love you. Mean it.

Brittany

Xoxo