Until Next Time.

October 30, 2014. Sad day for the Bridgforths. Our very first friends in Norman are moving away. They’re just going to Tulsa, so not too far, but for the last 4 years we’ve lived within less than a quarter mile of one another. Not exaggerating. It takes me two minutes to walk to their house.

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Ashley was our very first hire at Fitness One. She was our group fitness coordinator/right hand and managed all of the personal trainers. How we got so lucky, I’ll never know. Ashley and Joey were definitely placed in our lives for a reason.

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Joey, Me, Caitlyn, and Ashley

We’ve cleaned locker-rooms more times than I can count, solved the world’s problems while folding mounds of sweat towels, and somehow became great friends while refilling a never ending sea of disinfectant bottles.

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She has been my fitness inspiration and motivation. Without her, I wouldn’t be nearly as active as I am now. She’s also the reason I have a Lululemon addiction…

They told us they were having their first baby while sitting in our backyard, feet in the pool. We experienced nearly everyday of that pregnancy; all of the ups, and all of the downs.

Finn's baby shower.

Finn’s baby shower.

Multiple evenings were spent at OU Children’s Hospital waiting for Finn to be released from the NICU.

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I was fortunate enough to Nanny for that sweet boy when he was just 2-3 months old. Goodness, he’s special to us.

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For the last two years, the roles reversed. I’ve been working for Ashley at Next Level Fitness Studio. Most recently Baby #2, Paisley, made her way into the world.

Paisley's baby shower.

Paisley’s baby shower.

Prettiest little thing you’ll ever see.

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Until Tuesday, I have been genuinely excited for their new opportunities and adventures. I thought “They’re just going to Tulsa, you go to Tulsa at least once a month.” No big deal. That was, until Tuesday.

I attended Ashley’s last kickboxing class Tuesday evening, and at the end she went around the circle and said a little bit about each person. Then she got to me… as soon as she started talking, I lost it. I’m a mess just writing this.

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October 30, 2014. Ashley’s last day at Next Level Fitness Studio. We had a small come and go reception throughout most of the day. It’s amazing how many people the Armstrongs have impacted in their 4 years in Norman. Ashley through fitness, and Joey through their church and ministry.

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Tulsa friends! Go see Ashley at Sky Fitness at their South location, 10121 S. Sheridan. She starts November 10. She’ll get you into shape, and then impact you in ways you weren’t expecting.

Until next time, Armstrongs. You’re loved.

The Bridgforths

 

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Caramel Apples 101

I’m not sure how this happened or when it started, but somehow I always get swindled into making caramel apples around this time of year. I love to make them, but I really love to eat them! That’s why this situation is so dangerous. I have no self control when it comes to caramel. I’ll find myself slathering that caramel goodness on just about anything I can get my hands on – chocolate, pretzels, ice cream, cake. Please, someone save me. I’m going to make it really easy and just lay it all out for you…

First wash and dry all of your apples and remove the stems. Really scrub on them. You have to break down some of that wax coating for the caramel to stick. My favorite apples to use are Granny Smith. They’re crispy, tart, and pair perfectly with a sweet, chewy caramel.

Insert a popsicle stick into all of your apples.

Easy, delicious, semi-homeade caramel apples!

Alright, I’m going to make a confession. I rarely make my own caramel. Homemade caramel is delicious, but I’m not convinced that it’s deliciousness outweighs the convenience of pre-made. I will occasionally make my own when I’m baking, but for something like this, you can’t beat the convenience.

Unwrap your caramels and add them to a double boiler. Double boiler = glass bowl set over a pot of boiling water.

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Add 1 Tbsp. of water per bag (11 oz.) of caramels used. In this case I used 5 bags of caramels, so 5 Tbsp. of water. I have found that if I add more than this, my caramel doesn’t set properly. Add a dash of salt.

Note: I can usually make 4 apples out of 1 bag of caramel. 

Stir occasionally until the caramel is melted and smooth. This step takes some patience, my caramel took about 30 minutes to get the consistency I wanted.

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Once your caramel is ready, take an apple and give it a dunk.

IMG_5382Now, your apples are delicious as is but if you really want to take it over the top, add some toppings! While your caramel is still warm, roll in whatever topping your little taste buds desire. I used pecans/chocolate chips, M&Ms, Heath bar, and Oreos. Other ideas: sprinkle of kosher salt, peanuts, pretzels, white chocolate, Butterfingers, Reese’s, etc.

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Once I finished, my husband caught me dipping my fork into the leftover caramel and then dipping my fork in a bowl of toppings… Again, not my proudest moment. Someone save me. Please?

Easy, delicious, semi-homeade caramel apples!

After you’ve dipped, rolled, shaked, and dusted until you are supremely pleased with your apple, place in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes to let it set. Pull them out and they’re ready to serve.

I like to wrap mine individually to take to parties, give to friends, etc. I place the apple in a cellophane bag and tie with a few pieces of raffia. Who wouldn’t want to be given an apple like this?! And if they don’t want it, you shouldn’t be friends with them anyway. I’m only half-way kidding.

Easy, delicious, semi-homeade caramel apples!

There you have it! Caramel Apple Making 101. Alright, now who’s taking this job from me?!

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Annual Family Pumpkin Carving

It’s late on Sunday. I’m tired. And I’ve got lots to share. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’m thinking 1 sentence per picture should suffice, right? Or maybe 2? We’ll see how I feel.

To set the scene: My family gets together for a pumpkin carving every year – it’s my favorite family tradition! This year also happened to coincide with my grandpa’s birthday. Perfect timing!

I was in charge of bringing caramel apples…

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And Grandpa’s cake; which also happened to be caramel apple… YUM!

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I nagged at my poor husband all the way up the Turner Turnpike to take me by the new West Elm store at Utica Square. We got to Tulsa with 45 minutes to spare, so in order to shut me up he conceded. 😉

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Let’s talk about the fact that I’m wearing shorts in late October. What?!?!?

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I didn’t actually carve a pumpkin this year. I just used them as a yoga prop – until I was scolded by my 8 year old cousin for scuffing the bottom of a pumpkin! It’s really humbling to get in trouble by a 2nd grader.

IMG_5432Thankfully my husband is just as much of a fun-hater as I am, so he didn’t make me carve one this year. Others weren’t so lucky…

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I think my uncle was more excited than the little ones about pumpkin carving. He came prepared! Those poor pumpkins never stood a chance.

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Then it was time to celebrate the coolest 76 year old you’ll ever meet!

You should have heard me have a minor freak-out in front of the family over these candles – definitely not my proudest moment.

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We all chipped in and put together 76 reasons why we think our grandpa is totally boss. Some of my favorites included:

  1. I love you because you’re nice, a cowboy, and a good farmer. – my 6 year old cousin, Isaac
  2. You taught me that dogs, not diamonds, are actually a girl’s best friend. – my sister, Whitney
  3. Before I even knew Whitney, you taught me everything I needed to know about her in just one sentence – “It’ll take a special man to marry Whitney.” – my husband, Chase.

He loved listening to us read them all to him. There were some doozies.

Charlie even got in on the birthday action. Somehow he always ends up in the middle of all family gatherings. Strangest dog you’ll ever meet.

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We woke up in Chelsea, got some calf kisses, and hit the road.

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Another pumpkin carving in the books!

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