Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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February wrap-up

So, February was kinda a cluster.  Not a whole lot got done.  I'm carrying over a whole bunch of February goals in order to give them another try.  I had hoped to tackle another segment of the "Circle of Life" in March, but I think that I could really benefit from spending more time focusing on the things that were important in February.  As eager as I am to check one more thing off the list, sometimes you need to work at something for a while...

So without further ado, let's go through the goals I set, and see what was really accomplished.

Continue to exercise 5 days/week.  I didn't even come close on this one.  Partway through the month, I scaled back, and saw improvements in my swimming stamina.  I think I was doing too much.  It's frustrating me to not be able to push as hard as I want to.

From Pinterest

Add a second yoga practice.  Mmmm, no.  I have all kinds of excuses for why I didn't, but they seem lame.

Stick to a $230 grocery budget.  We did it, but we ate out far too much for my taste.  I want to work on this, because I feel better when I eat healthy, home cooked food.

Make 1 vegetarian meal a week.  Another no.  This happened 2 weeks.  I like eating vegetarian, but A tends to feel like it isn't a meal unless meat is involved.  It can make life tricky.

Incorporate food I already have at home.  This has worked out.  I love to buy things when they're cheap and on sale.  Like Turkeys at Thanksgiving, and Ham at Christmas.  We used up our extra ham from Christmas, which saved a bunch of money, and in March I think we're gonna do the Turkey.

Eat a cup of fruit or vegetable at breakfast, and at least two cups of vegetable at lunch and dinner every day.  I hit 75-80% on this one.  Not great, but not bad either.  I want to keep building on this, especially since we will be having both a garden and a summer CSA share.  That means tons of produce for eating, and I need to build up to that kind of craziness.

From Pinterest

Make a tiered Barcelona Skirt out of thrifted sheet.  The sheet is sitting in the same place that it was at the first of February.  At least I pulled the pattern out.  I look at both wistfully as I do homework.

Continue to record weekly gratitude and write a note to someone expressing why I appreciate them.  I missed one week of gratitudes, because I was in Steamboat with no internet access.  Otherwise, I did really well with that challenge.  I haven't written my note yet, but I still have a teeny-tiny amount of time left in February to make it happen, and I am determined to make this one work out.  It's important.

Date night with A.  We knocked this one out early in the month with a date to Denver!  We had a great night with Mammoth Lacrosse and Cherry Cricket burgers.

Take one day for myself.  Not so much.  This is hard for me, I always feel like there's too much to do.

10 minutes of cleaning a day.  We love this!  We didn't quite make it every day, but we did most days, and it's really made me feel better about our home.  I like knowing that each task builds up to a really clean, organized home.

Work on decorating our bedroom.  Nothing on this front.  I am kinda stumped when it comes to our bedroom.  I have plenty of ideas for every other area, but our bedroom stops me in my tracks every time.  Hopefully next month.

12 hours/week of school study.  This one most certainly happened.  I spend most of my free time these days hitting the books.

If there's one thing I figured out from February, it's that I need to find some happy equilibrium point going forward.  I'm going crazy trying to make everything happen all at once.  It's ok to take a break.  It's ok to not get everything done.  It's ok to not be perfect.  It's ok.

I'm sensing a March mantra, are you?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


From Pinterest

While it was great to take long weekend away from everything, I am so glad to be back at home.  To have my boys, A and B, sitting just 8 feet away.  Too have my things, my sewing machine, my fabric.  To have MY BED.  I spent the weekend sleeping on a rock hard couch.

...It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't the best couch either.

I had hoped to have time to show you some great pictures of Steamboat, and tell you some stories.  But I feel too scattered for that right now.  That will have to wait for another day.

From Pinterest

That's how I feel a lot of the time.  Scattered, pulled in to many directions to give one thing my full attention.  I've tried to pare things down before to the essential list of must-dos.  The other stuff always creeps back in.

I don't think I'm meant to be the person who does one or two things really well.  I like too many things to let most of them go like that.  I'm working on being ok with that  I'm working on knowing that there's always going to be something more that I want to try and accomplish in this precious little time that I have been granted.

It's a tough pill to swallow.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Kristen Tested. Sheldon Approved

If you watch "The Big Bang Theory", you know that Sheldon takes the fiber content of his breakfast cereals very seriously.

Well Sheldon, you're not the only one.  Meet the fiber monster:

This, my friends is what 21 grams of fiber looks like.  Wanna know what's in it?  Oh, I knew you did!

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup wheat bran
2 Tbs ground flaxseed
1/4 cup Pecans
1/2 cup blueberries
1 small banana

So, what you do is you put the oats, flax, and bran in a pot together with 1 3/4 cups water.  I let mine soak while I'm showering so that it's a little creamier.  You can skip that step if you want.  It's your party.  Then go ahead and crank your burner to high, and wait anxiously for the pot to boil while staring at the clock and hoping you're going to have time to grab coffee before work.  Once that puppy is boiling, drop the heat to low and let it cook another 5 minutes or so.  Stir it up a couple of times while it cooks so that you don't burn the bottom.

Once it's cooked to your liking, plop it in a bowl, top with fruit and nuts, and you're good to go (so stay close to a restroom)!

On a side note, this is a very substantial breakfast.  I only do this on days when I know I have a big workout.  I don't stress over calories, but I d try to be mindful of my carb consumption, and even when you factor the fiber in, it's still very high.  So if this is too big for you cut the grains in half.  You'll still be packing a bunch of fiber and good nutrition!

On another side note, I fell like kinda a pig that I have to tell you my Kristen-sized portion might be too big for some (ok, many) people.  Yikes.  I guess that's why I work out!

Friday, February 24, 2012


Do you all know that Disney commercial?  The one with the little boy who says "We're to Excited to sleep!"  In the coolest voice ever?

It's my favorite commercial in the world.  I quote it for no reason whatsoever.  But today, I have a reason.  On Wednesday, this email dropped into my inbox:

Yes, you are reading that right.  Steamboat ski resort has had 4 feet of fresh snow in 3 days, and it is still going!  Mom and I will be there Friday night and skiing Saturday and Monday.  I might cross country ski Sunday just to keep the joy going.

A is staying home.  He'll be studying it up and getting all smart, while I'm laying fresh tracks.  Don't feel sad for him, he won't have me nagging him about dishes all weekend while I'm gone.

Last year when I went to Steamboat, he almost burned our apartment down while he was trying to cook a steak.  I really hope he just eats Nachos and Chipotle while I'm away (honey I love you, and I mean it... eat out!).

And I will make sure to take muscle rub with me, because I fully intend to have sore quads, and be so exhausted that any latent exhaustion will be overwhelmed by the urge to sleep.

What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

To Detox, or Not to Detox

I could wax poetic just like Hamlet for quite a while about this topic... and yes, I think I will do just that, thanks.  I'll try to insert lots of great pictures of veggies to make it more fun.

I love Detox plans.  I love the idea of detoxing.  I think it is necessary in our world of being sedentary and breathing/eating/drinking/living pollutants.  I think it's a great opportunity to let your body get rid of some of the yuck.

From Pinterest

But I hate the actual practice of detoxing.  It's generally time consuming.  It can be expensive.  Your energy might suffer.  You might have to stay within a 25 yard dash of a bathroom, and hope that you have exclusive rights to the implied commode.  There is prepping, planning, work to be done when you detox.  It is not a simple thing, unlike what all of the books and blogs out there claim.

Not to mention that I kinda promised myself that I would not do anything that drastic with my health this year.  That I would make small, measurable changes that would yield big results in favor of the short term cleanse.

Yum-tastic greens

Best laid plans, yada, yada yada.  I can't resist a good cleanse.  They call to me.  Especially as we head into Spring, which is touted as being the best time to do a cleanse.  And there's the voice inside me that reminds me that there are detox strategies that don't require all liquid diets, colonics, and disgusting drinks.  There are strategies out there that I have been able to comply with, and even thrived on long term before.

Yes people, we're talking a bout a vegan diet.

The best part of the grocery store
I was a vegan for just over a year when I was 22.  Honestly, it was probably the best year of my life (from a health standpoint).  But, after that time the pressure of work, dating, life, caught up with me, and it just seemed like too much to continue preparing yummy vegan goodness for myself each and every day became a huge burden.  Fish came back fist, then dairy, then everything else.

I love bacon.  When bacon came back, I knew it was all over for me.

But when I think about that time, I really experienced all of the benefits that a good detox is supposed to provide you.  I slept well.  I had tons of energy.  I ate whenever I wanted.  My skin looked great.  I've never had a lower percentage of body fat, and I had no trouble rock climbing and hiking several days a week.

Hello tiny little vegan!
So what does all of this mean?  I am so, so, so tempted to do a 3 week vegan diet challenge.  I would love to try to sneak gluten free and caffeine free in there too, but that might be a little much.  But I'm still cautious;  it seems like a quick fix to a long standing problem.  If I do this, what changes am I going to make going forward that ensure I don't end up in the same place or worse in 6 months?  Wat are my motivations for doing a cleanse?  How often do I think it is acceptable for me to undertake a cleanse?  What expectations do I have for myself if I do this?

See all these questions?  See why I am so darn confused about all of this.  One way or another, I can't wait to share with you what I decide to do and how I'm going to make it happen!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

This is a happy post

So I know that you all know that I swim with an amazing group of people on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  As much as I hate getting there every time, I really enjoy our time together and our workouts.  The workouts are challenging, but they never push too far.  I feel so good when I'm done, and that pushes me through the rest of the day.

But until we do something insane, I never know just how beneficial these workouts have been for me.  I talked a little bit last week about how on Valentine's day, the belief of my teammates and my coach pushed me to a new level.  Tuesday, I built on that, and I feel like I hit an ever better level.  I set a new personal record, folks.

From Pinterest
We finally got our coach to stop telling us all of the awful things he's planning on making us do in advance.  No sense in worrying about what's coming, right?  So none of us saw it coming when he announced that we were going to be timing our race pace 100 yard freestyle.  It is, quite possibly, my least favorite thing we do in our workouts.

...Last time we did these, I swam my fastest 100 in 1 min 42 sec, with an average time of 1 min 47 sec.  I was pretty happy with that.  It's a respectable time, when compared with my 50 yard pace and my 200 yard pace.  Last week the coach upped the ante though, and had us calculate theoretical 100 yard race pace times.  When he told me that my new goal was 1 min 31 sec, I was pretty sure he was insane.  That's 16 seconds faster than my average race pace!  And if you aren't a swimmer, I can tell you right now that dropping 16 seconds in a pool is HARD.

From Pinterest

So we got to it.  I really didn't feel very fast.  I picked the person to swim against who I have always felt challenged by yet we are very evenly matched.  I wanted to stay with him, but know that I was really working to stay with him.  And I wanted to see if I could beat my pacing buddy. 

...And I did!  I set a new personal record of 1 min 33sec.  I dropped 9 seconds off my old PR, and 14 sec off of my previous average!  Even better, my slowest 100 was one second slower than my previous PR.  My times were not super consistent, but I still showed a lot of improvement, and at the end, I had nothing left to give.  It was so gratifying to see how far I was able to come, especially since I only got back in the pool again in mid-December.

And today, I know that I can do anything.  I just have to work hard, and believe.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I love lamp?

I love... chair?
I love... desk?
I love... lamp?

"Are you just naming the things that you see?"  Oh Anchorman, you never cease to make a girl laugh.  In all seriousness, I finished my first lamp project on Sunday.  I was really excited about this lamp when I first saw it at ARC one fateful Saturday.  Let's start with a before picture, shall we?

Oh yeah, she was a beauty all right.  I had this crazy idea to hand paint the lamp shade using a stencil.  I found a design I liked, printed it out, and taped it to the inside of a bell shade so that I didn't have to spend a bunch of time meticulously cutting out a stencil.  Here's what I got after a few coats of spray paint and some hand-painting:

So I have to say, that from 10 feet away, the stencil looks pretty darn good.  Up close though... not so much.  The paint was bleeding on the fabric, and the whole thing was just very uncooperative.  I am going to call this a semi-fail.  We will definitely not be able to sell this lamp, BUT it will look amazing in our living room (as long as nobody is staring at the painted detail from 6 inches away!).

It was nice to take some time to craft on Sunday.  I knew I should have been studying, but I really wanted to see this project through to completion.  It only took an hour or so to paint the shade, and I will probably try the technique again, but with a different shade choice (this one had 2 thin layers of fabric, not the stiffer plastic inside layer).  I think some plastic reinforcing the shade would have been very helpful.

So our living room looks more decorated, and I feel less stressed knowing I can cross one more project off my never-ending list.  What do you think Ron Burgundy would have to say about this lamp? 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Car thoughts

One day in high school, I was driving home from school, and for some reason I had the radio off.  My car was quiet, and my thoughts had the opportunity to go where they wanted to go.  That day I learned that I do my best thinking when I'm driving in silence.  Much the way I narrate in my head when I'm typing, these thoughts come to me, just as if I were reading them off a page.

In high school, many of these thoughts were about spirituality.  I have had a lifelong struggle with spirituality, and that point in my life was especially difficult.  I think any 17 year old can relate to that in some way.

Over the years, I have sometimes avoided those silent drives, because I am afraid of what I will hear in the silence.  I decided to listen the other night, and the things I heard scared me just as much as they had when I was younger.  They scare me, because I know that they permanently change the way I perceive the situations around me.

I will be sharing my car thoughts with you soon.  Today, I would love to know, do you have something similar to this?  Where do you do your best thinking?  Do those thoughts scare you?  Excite you?  Transform you?  Once they take hold, what do you do?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

When you wish...

My wish this week is for focus.  I am going on a 3-day ski trip next weekend, and I need to have all of my homework done before we leave.

I never anticipated school being so hard this time around.  I have always naturally done well with school.  It has never challenged me this way.  I don't know why it's been a struggle this time, all I can do is work my hardest, and keep my eye on the prize (It's the Eye of the Tiger, you know).  

Linking up this week with Ashley Marie, Robin, and Kristina for Wish! {Out Loud} Sunday.  I wish all of you the best this week!