Friday, September 28, 2012

If I weren't afraid

I was commenting on a blog post just now, in fact I was commenting on this blog post.  Lately as I read blogs, I'm struck by the openness that we as bloggers show.  I have read so many things since I started blogging that I have related to, or have changed the way I view the world.  We share some of our most tender, vulnerable, meaningful experiences with those who seek our stories.  Why are we so candid in this space?  Why am I able to so easily share these experiences with perfect strangers, when I would have a hard time sharing these things with my best friend?

And then I realized, that despite all of these things I do share, I still censor myself a whole dang lot on this blog.  How is it that I can feel so laid bare here, and yet I know there are so many things that I have locked away, and decided are not "appropriate" for this space?  Why should I ignore my struggle to find faith?  Why should I not tell you all about my political beliefs?

Because what if they don't like me anymore?  What if they all walk away from this place, and don't come back?  What if they can't handle all of the things that I feel, believe, and hold to be true?  What if they look at me sideways because every now and again I drink a beer?  

I realize that if these things weren't okay with you guys, you would have walked away a while ago.  I've made no secret of the fact that I don't practice a particular religion right now, that I live "in sin", that I see nothing wrong with responsible alcohol consumption.  I periodically even dance 10 feet away from the subject of politics.  But I obsess each and every time I make a comment about these parts of my life.  I worry that people think less of me.  I try to be the "perfect" blogger, the one who has it all together, who isn't constantly living life from one crisis to the next.  But that is where I am... that is what my life has felt like for the last few years now.   In the last 6 years, my mom has had 2 major medical crises.  I've moved 4 times, changed jobs 5 times, been in some terrible relationships, found love, lost love, found better love.  It's been a whirlwind.  I know it isn't going to settle down anytime soon.  My worries are bigger than I am... they are so big, and sometimes I feel like they want to engulf me, and carry me for miles in a bad direction.  They want me to succumb, and  to wait for the worst to happen.  To allow myself to lose.

If I weren't so afraid, I would tell you all of the fears, all of the worries, all of the uncertainty that I currently face.  I would ask you to listen over Skype or Google chat as we drank hot beverages and I cried about how I have no control over what comes next, and how terrified I am of that prospect.

If I weren't so afraid, I would ask you to allow me to talk with you honestly about God, and about religion, and about my journey as it's written so far.  I would ask that you drink a grape-based beverage, and allow me to try to make sense of the jumble of thoughts and feelings that surround this issue for me.  I would ask you to pray for my guidance in finding answers to questions that I've never found satisfactory answers to.

If I weren't so afraid, I would tell you exactly what I think of the state of our Nation.  I wouldn't hesitate for a second to speak out about what I think is right and wrong with our current system.  I would tell you about my ex-boyfriend, the hippie in the woods, who heavily influenced my ideas and beliefs about the world that we live in.  I would talk to you about how a little music festival in Nederland, CO did more to shape my beliefs than any other event.  I would tell you that there is more to politics than red and blue.

If I weren't so afraid, I would tell everyone that bullying in schools WILL NOT STOP until we as adults stop bullying each other.  How in the world are children supposed to see all of the negative political propaganda, and then be expected to be kind and respectful to one another?  How can we teach children to be better human beings than we actually are?

If I am brave, I will push the publish button... because bravery is not the absence of fear, just the acknowledgement that there are things more powerful than fear.  And that those things are worth the price.

** Special thanks to Shaylynn for emailing me at the right moment, and allowing me to feel alright about publishing this.**

The power of TED

This year, I started hearing about this really cool conference that takes place each year in Monterey, CA.  It's called the TED conference.  From what I can tell, it is a meeting of some of the greatest minds of our society, getting together to talk about how to solve large-scale issues, and how to become even more successful in their personal areas of expertise.

This absolutely fascinates me.  What's even more interesting, these "greatest" minds didn't all necessarily study at the best colleges... they just have that something special, that something other that makes them uniquely suited to solving a specific set of problems.

My Managerial Finance instructor asked us to comment on this clip from TED, and I thought it was really interesting.  I hope you do too:

...Is anyone else super-jealous that the Technology, Entertainment, and Design nerds get to have these amazing conferences?  Well, I hope so.  But there is hope for the rest of us.  Because they upload the talks to you-tube, and let the rest of us share in the awesome.  The other clip I want to share with you is pretty long.  Almost 19 minutes.  Yet it's so powerful, so entertaining, so empowering, that I think it's worth a little bit of your time today.  If you don't have 19 minutes, at least watch the first 4 minutes, and the last 4 minutes.  Then let me know what you think.

I could seriously stay up all night watching these talks.  I am a total sucker for personal development, human connection, and anything nerdy.  I hope that the TED talks inspire you too.  Have a great weekend, guys!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Check out those threads!

As promised, today I'm going to tell you about what I wore to the wedding.  And for once, I'm not even going to talk about how "old as heck" something is!  I know this is probably the best news you've heard... because who doesn't want to dress like me???

People, I'm KIDDING.  Trust me... fashion is not my strong suit.  Please don't take your fashion cues from me.  There are plenty of other bloggers who are exceedingly better at that.  My mom takes fashion advice from me, but that's about it.

We took these pictures before the trip.  We don't have full-length from the trip yet... working on that.  The dress and shoes both came from Kohl's.  After an unsuccessful trip (for me) shopping with the mother, I came home and saw that Ashley was giving away a coupon code for 10% off your order total.  I sure as heck like 10% off, don't you?  So I decided to take a peek at what they had.  The dress is by Dana Buchmann, and it's a stretchy mock-wrap style dress with a 4-ish inch slit.  I have a thing about knee length dresses, and so this one fit that bill.  After reading the reviews, I went with a medium, and was pretty happy with the decision.

...Now let's say a few words about those shoes, yes?

These are some serious heels, ladies.  They're by Lauren Conrad, and they are a 4-1/2 inch heel with a one inch platform under the toe.  I got an 8, which is normal for me, but honestly I probably would have liked to go a half size up.  A lot of the reviews said they ran big, but I didn't seem to have that issue.  For being so tall, they were surprisingly comfortable, and I managed to wear them for almost 4 hours at the wedding, before switching into flip-flops.

One thing I will say... I am a firm believer in wearing slips under every skirt or dress I wear.  They make me feel lady-like.  But even if you don't like slips, this one pretty much demands it.  That stretchy fabric tries to cling in ways that are not so flattering.  So if you buy this dress, march yourself down to Target, and get yourself a cute little lacy slip.  You'll be walking like a lady in no time.

I also promised you some additional pictures of ladies in hats.  My mom and my aunt may kill me for this, but I have to.  I hope they understand that this light can not be hidden under a bushel:

I asked them if they wanted to wear these to the wedding.  We all decided it was best to not upstage the bride on her day.

These hats breed joy and love, people.  Joy and love.  I told my best friend I wanted to do a derby-party themed bridal shower... and now I want hats like these.  Even if they're only for a few fun pictures, or for those people who refuse to wear a hat to my party.  I will have flower hats like these in my life, and soon.

What is the best "bad" fashion choice you've made lately?  Am I the only person who finds it entirely appropriate to stage impromptu photo shoots of awesome hats with their family?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bags, wedding planning, and other such nonsense

Today, I'm providing you with the most random vlog I've done yet... I think you'll dig it ;-)

Before we get to my randomness though, I want to talk about some of my adventures in wedding planning.  If you're new here, or you just don't stop in often, I'm getting hitched.  Next August.  And guess what?  We really haven't done too much planning.  I will let you in on some of the details we've come up with so far.

Dresses... are being handmade.  Yes, really.  I'm planning on making mine, and with a little luck and a wish, my mothers-in-law will hopefully be helping with the bridesmaid's dresses.  I bought the patterns, on sale for $2.88 EACH, for a grand total of... $12.64, including tax and shipping.

You can congratulate me on my thrifty prowess after the wedding is over, and I can disclose to everyone actual totals for everything for the wedding.  I have a feeling that the fabric for these dresses won't be so cheap.

Colors... we're thinking a medium dusty sky blue, and a grassy-ish green.  This is all 100% dependent on the fabric I can find for the bridesmaids dresses.  Since those fabrics won't come into season until January or February, we're going to leave that up in the air.  My dress (the one on the left, the shorter length) will be some version of cream/off-white.  I'm hoping to make my own birdcage veil in the same shade.

Budget... is SMALL.  We are trying to get really creative, which is tough, given that our wedding has to accommodate at least 100 people.  I think that when I did a rough count, we were planning on inviting 125-150 people to our wedding.  That is a lot of people, give what we're working with.  To balance that out, I'm working hard to be creative about what we want to do, and how we can accomplish it.

The feel... a Vintage 1950's picnic.  Fried chicken, deviled eggs, potato sack races, horseshoes... I want everyone who attends to just have a REALLY FUN DAY.  I'm not that into the traditional wedding for myself.  This just really seems to fit who we are and what we're about.

That's all the wedding stuff I'm going to give you for now... gotta space it out over the next 10-11 months!  So, [insert awkward transition here] let's talk about bags.  Every lady I know has several.  And we carry around the craziest stuff.  So, these lovely ladies threw out this question:

Hope Squared

Here is my official answer:

As y'all can tell, at this moment I'm a hot mess, and it's nearly an hour since I actually recorded the vlog.  AKA, it's my bedtime.  AKA, I'm an old fuddy duddy who doesn't get out much.  Oh how times have changed since college...

I'll leave you here.  Come back tomorrow, I'll talk about what I wore to the wedding, and I promise a picture of my mom and aunt wearing sexy flower hats like the one I showed you Monday.  They're good models.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

There's no calories on vacation

I would really like to find a Some E-Card that talks about how calories don't count when you're on vacation.  However, I realize that I would just be lying to myself, and then I'd have to hang my head in shame.  Really, my head should already be hung.

You see, I never had any intentions of watching my food and portions while we were out of town, so I didn't.  And I gained back the 4 pounds I had worked hard to lose.  Whoops.

But really, I don't feel bad.  They will, in fact, come off faster than the first time, so long as I get back on track right away.  I'm not giving up entirely on weight loss, because I want to be a hot honeymooner this time next year.  I just don't see the point in making myself feel left out at a wedding, because everyone else is having a great time and I'm eating baby carrots.  Not happening, ladies!

I got one amazing picture of some good, wholesome mid-western fare.  This was consumed Sunday morning, in hopes that it would help with the raging wine headache I had.  It didn't help with the headache, but it tasted darn delicious.

Chicken Fried chicken, hash browns, and 2 fried eggs.  What you're not seeing here is the biscuit and gravy that Ammon and I shared.  Don't worry, I only ate most of this.

I didn't take any other pictures of our food, but we did eat Indian food before heading out Friday, Chipotle twice, and Barbecue twice since Thursday night.  Part of me feels bad about this; I am trying really hard to exercise self control and improve myself.  The other part of me remembers that life is a balance, and that it's okay to go overboard every now and again, so long as I don't give up forever.  I like the second voice better.

So as of yesterday, I'm back on my plan.  Sometime during the weekend, a nerve in my shoulder pinched, and so I decided not to try working out yesterday.  I did, however, do my best to come in at or under my points goal.  Provided I'm feeling okay today, I'm going to try to run after work.  The weather is turning bad (rain/snow mix last night!), so it might just be time to head to a gym.  We've been playing with the concept of me buying a treadmill and setting it up where our dining room table is now.  We rarely use our dining room table, and we could always move the treadmill to set up the table on the rare occasion it's needed.  There are so many different choices, and I don't know what we're thinking on that front, but we need to make a decision either way soon!

Either way, I feel lighter for having made my confession, and it's nice knowing that I' back on track.  Hot honeymooner, here I come!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Falling in Love...

Wow, what a weekend!  I seriously can't believe the craziness of the last 2.5 days.  In fact, I'll probably be talking about it all week... because that much stuff happened.  But this weekend, my mom's side of my family got together to celebrate the marriage of two wonderful people.

We all traveled to the heartland to see Trisha and Tim tie the knot, and I am so glad we did!  Our family is incredibly spread out, and so we don't get to see each other as often as we would like. 

Even more fun though, was that Ammon came too!  It was the first time that Ammon got to meet any of my extended family... and I couldn't believe how well they all got along!  Seriously... I knew that my family loved me... until they met Ammon.  Holy cow do they adore him.

In other news, how hot did my mom look?  I mean, wow!  I know I picked out the dress, but you honestly would never know that she just got done battling cancer a few months ago.  Woman is incredible like that.

So today, I'm simply trying to recover from a weekend of lots of driving, tons of food, and probably a little bit too much wine.  Tomorrow we'll talk a little bit about the food, and about how I'm getting back on track with Weight Watchers.  But for now, I will leave you with one of my most recent glamour shots... because I love you.

Have a great day!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday's Letters

Happy Friday!  Ammon and I are hitting the open road today, Heading to Wichita for my cousin's wedding.  I can already sense your jealousy over my  trip.  I would be too, if I were you.  Since I've been kind of stumped on what to write lately, I thought that I would turn to everyone's favorite Friday link-up... Friday's Letters.


Dear Alyx,

I love her cat-loverness.

You are so wonderful.  Thank you for viewing and approving the patterns I eventually purchased for my wedding dress and the bridesmaid's dresses.  Thank you for responding so jubilantly.  I can't help but be so angry that you and I keep ending up in the same places a few weeks apart.  First, Mount Rushmore, and now with Wichita.  One of these days we're going to have to be in the same place at the same time.

Dear Mike (Alyx's Husband),

Stolen from Alyx's blog... because I've never met them.  Sad.

Ammon and I are looking forward to meeting you as well.  You seem pretty darn cool.

Dear Beckham,

He's an alien cat.  Obviously

I think you know that we're leaving... you were moping around all night last night, making me sad.  We would take you with us, if you weren't so neurotic every time you have to go for a ride in the car.  I am seriously hoping we never have to move you across the country, because you would have to be sedated, and that would stress me out.  I miss you already.

Dear Work,

I love you, but I am so thankful to spend 4 days away from you.  Like any relationship, when we spend too much time together, I tend to be frustrated with you.  I promise to be more in love with you than ever come Tuesday.

Dear Ammon,

This is the first time you'll be meeting a large chunk of my large family.  Almost half of it, in fact.  Be ready for lots of names, lots of stories, and for being interrogated by my Aunts and Uncles.  They get a little feisty after a beverage or two.  You'll fit right in.  I'm glad we have a weekend away from the house together.  You're my favorite.

Dear Blog readers,

I have to apologize for  sucking as a blogger lately.  I haven't been reading many blogs lately, nor have I been super motivated to come up with awesome posts.  I love you all, and hope you can still love me, despite my dry spell.  I promise, I'll come back in full force soon.

Dear School,

You are challenging.  Not because the material is difficult, but because I have to juggle you with everything else.  Let's figure out how to get along peacefully in the coming weeks, okay?

Happy weekending, friends!  Can't wait to share with you about the wedding next week =).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I didn't blog yesterday

Did you all notice?  I know that some of you did, because I heard about it.  Why did I refrain from blogging?  Because I wasn't in the mood on Tuesday night to write something out.  There were things that I could have forced myself to write about, but I was grumpy and tired, even after magical Pho:

I've had a hard time sticking with Weight Watchers this week.  Because I've been grumpy, tired, and "too busy", I imagine.  These are all lousy excuses.  Really, all of those are the reasons why I haven't been sticking to the plan as it's outlined.  I'm okay with it.  Everyone has those weeks, and this is mine.  Also, I have been having issues with my knees hurting, so I haven't exercised.  I've learned throughout my years of having crappy knees that knee surgery is not fun, and should really be avoided at all costs.

Then yesterday happened.  It was one of those days that was good, uplifting, frustrating, and disturbing.  So many emotions, all in one day.  I suppose that's life, though.  If it were any less, it would feel fake.

Ammon and I discussed fake friends and secret friends, and how the worst thing you can do to someone whose company you enjoy is relegate them to the role of your "secret friend".  That person who you love to talk to and be around, but only when no one else is paying attention.  I know I have been placed in this position before, and I just felt so... honored that the person wanted to be my friend that I took what I could get.  That anything had to be better than nothing, right???  Now that I'm older, I realize that this "amazing person" that I want to be friends with really sucks at life.  If they can't be my friend all the time, they have no business being my friend any of the time.

The leaves in CO are changing head of schedule.  Usually, they don't change until October.  But I couldn't pass us the opportunity to show you this foliage, and I stopped everything today to capture this for you.

This is a great example of how CO can't make up its mind!  We have bare trees, trees with turning leaves, and trees that are still totally green.  Weird, but beautiful.

Lastly, both uplifting and disturbing... my business law class is taught by a judge for the local district court.  He's really old, and most people in town ask if he's even still on the bench.  Like I said, old.  For class this week, one of our topics was ethics.  It was probably my favorite topic he has lectured on, because he kept talking about "old timers", and the phrases his parents and grandparents used when talking about ethical matters.  I loved it, because it was so much more applicable and worthwhile than all of the other junk that is taught in ethics these days.  However, we also talked about the Bill of Rights tonight.  I try to avoid politics on this blog, but I will say this:  I am a huge proponent of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, as they are written.  The class is taught lecture style, but we can usually sneak in a question or two.  I asked a couple of questions to kind of go deeper into what he was talking about.  Both times, he complimented me on asking good questions.  Then, at the end of class, he said this to me:  "How is it that you know so much about this?  Do you work in the field?  You intrigue me..."  Dude.  I did not want to catch this man's attention and "intrigue" him by any means.  What he meant as a compliment does not spell happiness for me, more of concern.  I don't like to stand out in classes.  I sit in the middle, just so that I can hide if I need to.  But for whatever reason, I feel compelled to ASK the tough questions in this class, and that has made me the target.  Shoot.

Well, that's all I want to talk about for now.  Guess I'll be on my way to bed, because it's ten at night, and I'm not a spring chicken anymore.  Peace out, home-skillets.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It snowed yesterday

Yesterday, the high for the day was 67 degrees, and it snowed up on Vail pass.  Today, we're looking at a high of 80 degrees.  That's the thing about Colorado this time of year:  We can't make up our minds about whether we wanna be hot or cold, so we tell the weather to do a little bit of both.
It okay to frolic in October, especially in a t-shirt!

I wore long sleeves all day yesterday and felt perfectly comfortable.  Today, I'm wearing short sleeves and my gladiators.  Pretty much what I'll wear the rest of the week, given the weather reports.  But in the back of my mind, I'm trying to figure out if Ammon would look at me sideways if I pulled out my skiing boots and started breaking them in again for the season.  If he'll roll his eyes a little bit when I start the pull up opening dates for the various ski resorts.  Truth be told, I hate cold weather.  I don't like it one single bit.  I just like snow.  If we could have snow and 50 degrees, I would be over the moon with joy.  I've brainwashed Ammon into liking it when I have the thermostat in the apartment set at 80 degrees.  In fact, last winter he was wearing sweaters inside.  I don't think I've ever been more effective at bringing someone to my way of thinking.
A perfectly warm skiing day

And since I posted pictures of Colorado winters way back in the day when almost none of you knew I existed... I'm sprinkling them throughout this post.  As a reminder of what I love, and of what I don't love.  Like seeing my beloved scooter buried under a mountain of ugly parking lot snow.  Sigh.

So really, winter makes me feel like I have multiple personality disorder.  I love it, but I really hate it, too.  And frankly, as amazing as fall sounds, Colorado doesn't always subscribe to the concept of fall... like I said, we can't make up our minds as to whether we should waterski, or snowshoe it seems.

Does your state experience fall?  Or do you go straight from summer to winter in a flash?

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's so easy, being greek

Happy Monday, friends!

Well, it was one heck of a weekend... and by that, I'm wondering if I had a weekend?  I had one day off, and I spent the time doing laundry, grocery shopping, and studying.  But, I did get to chat with this girl, which made the whole weekend way more fun.  She is a hoot and a half.

So, the title of this post... could refer to 2 things.  Thing one is this:

How much I miss being a collegiate member  of a sorority.  And how much I miss vacuuming EVERYTHING for everyone.  Oh wait, I still vacuum all the time.  Maybe just that first part.

What?  You say no???  You don't think that's what I'm talking about?  You think that since it's Monday, I should be blogging about the weekend?  Okay... fine.  You win.

Since my weekend was pretty much a bust, I decided I should talk about something that was not a bust.  I made some Greek-style meatballs on Saturday, and they were amazing.  Like, Ammon ate 7 of them and probably could have eaten more kind of amazing.  And I'm a nice person, so I like to share.  I should also let you know that these bad boys are very WW friendly... each meatball is only one point!  That makes them an awesome option if you want to add a little something-something to a meal, but don't have a lot of points.  Look how pretty they are, too!

Greek-style Turkey Meatballs


One and a half bunches of fresh spinach, chopped and wilted down, or 10oz chopped frozen spinach
One pound lean ground turkey
2 banana peppers, seeded and diced finely
One 8-oz package reduced fat feta crumbles
2 large eggs

What you do:

1) Pre-heat oven to 425 F
2) Dump all of your ingredients into a mixing bowl.  Remember to crack the eggs before you throw them in.

3) If you're like me, you forgot to add the seasonings.  Add them now, to taste.
4) Make sure your hands are clean, then mix that stuff up!  Using a spoon won't give you the right consistency, you gotta dig in with this one.  It'll look about like this when you're through:

5) Form your mixture into 20 ball-shaped blobs.  I say ball-shaped, because mine never look like a ball.  And that's okay by me.  Set your blobs on a cookie sheet that's been sprayed with cooking spray

6) Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until they start getting a golden crust on top.  Some of the cheese will ooze out too, and they'll look perfectly ooey-gooey.  If you're feeling extra domestic, you can roast some fingerling potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice while your meatballs are cooking.

And there you have it, awesome meatballs in 30 minutes.

That's all I've got.  Have a fantastic day, my friends!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Confessions

Happy Sunday!  It's time for me to confess... to all of my pitfalls and little sins.  Because confession is good for the soul, and great blogging fodder.  What better to talk about than all of the ways that I am imperfect?

#1:  I am horrible at paying our Comcast bill:  Mostly because it's our only bill that pays out mid-month, and I always forget to send it.  In fact, there's one sitting next to me right now that's due Monday, and I haven't sent it yet.  Whoops.

#2:  I am also horrible at sending gifts/cards on time:  I really don't know what this is about.  I can send things that are "just because" in a timely fashion... but birthdays, anniversaries, holidays... always behind on those.  I'm terrible at it!  For instance, my friends' birthday was on the 7th, and her son's was on the 11th.  I bought cards for them on the 10th, and still haven't sent them out.  Forget Dog shaming, I need to be friend shamed.

The Evidence

#3:  Sometimes I decide where we will eat out based on ridiculous factors:  We went out to eat at Restaurant 415 in Fort Collins based entirely on the fact that it's owned by the parents of one of the contestants on Season 3 of The Voice.  They showed it in his audition intro, and I'd never seen it or heard of it.  So of course, we had to try it.  Flippin' amazing.  Best decision I've made based on a tv show about singing, no doubt about that.  I mean, look at this cupcake:

Blueberry buttermilk cupcake with mascarpone frosting
Yeah.  Awesome.

#4:  I have a hard time getting my schoolwork done:  The trouble with online classes is that you have extra flexibility about when and where you do your work.  Well, for me that translates into me spending a good part of my Sundays at the computer racing the homework deadlines for completion.  I'm usually so worn out during the week from work, workouts, and being a happy homemaker that I only get the bare minimum of studying accomplished in the week.

#5:  I already know that this week is going to be tough:  I work Monday - Thursday this week, then we leave on Friday for my cousin's wedding in Wichita.  That means that I have to have all of my homework done before we go.  In addition, I will have only had one day off for this weekend, so I will already be feeling stress and pressure in that area, and weddings are NOT relaxing affairs in my family.  They're darn near a 3 ring circus, in fact.  I should probably try to think positively about the coming week, but all I feel is stress and worry.

So there you have it, my confessions.  As always, I'm baring it all, and then sharing them thanks to my fave, Alyx.  Click the button to see more great confessions!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How to start running... again

So once upon a time, I actually started to like running.  Okay, it really wasn't all that long ago.  It was back in March, after I decided that it was embarrassing that I couldn't run a 5k.  I spent a lot of time building up the endurance to be able to run for 3.1 miles, and I was really proud of that.  It was something I never thought to be possible.

Then a series of unfortunate events got me out of the running habit.  First, a very intense weight training program.  Next, an IT Band injury.  It just seemed like every time I wanted to gear up my running again, something would happen that would just push back my running mojo.  Then, the unthinkable happened.  I stopped being excited about running.  It sudden;y seemed miserable again, just as it had back before I started doing 5k events.  Which was strange, because I still had the undeniable urge to go out and do a half marathon -- just not anytime soon.  I knew the problem was that I just had to get out there and do it as soon as I had the urge to go.  No putting it off, just getting out the door, and enjoying the process of running.

It struck yesterday, finally.  I was getting off of work, and I was contemplating whether to go for a bike ride, or whether to attempt a run.  I'd been trying to pick up with interval training in my running again, and I was frustrated with it.  I was pushing myself to the limit on my run intervals, and not recovering properly.  In the end, I decided to do a run, but not follow any set workout.  Just go out and jog as slow as I needed to, and walk when the mood struck.  So out I dutifully went with the cheesiest playlist known to man.  It's really bad, but for whatever reason, I can't get the screenshot to edit right, so you'll just have to trust me on this.  Sorry.

I set out at what felt like the world's slowest jog, and maintained the pace for 3 songs.  Mind you, these are boy band songs, like 'NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, so they aren't very long.  Then I walked.  Then I jogged.  Then I walked.  And guess what?  Then I jogged some more.  It was intervals, but there was really no rhyme or reason.  Just go as far as you can, recover, then start again.  I didn't pay attention to how far I went, or my speed.  And yet, it was one of my faster running workouts in quite a while.  A complete success.

And that, my friends, is how you start running again.  You just go out, and do your best, the second the mood strikes.  And if it doesn't strike, maybe you just go and do it anyway.  Or maybe you eat bonbons.  I don't judge.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's finally that time

There's a certain crispness in the air.  It's been raining since last night, and it's set to rain tomorrow as well.  Blessedly, the radio newscasters can take a day or two off of talking about the drought that has been plauging Colorado all year.  It's temporary, of course.  However, it's starting to feel more and more like Autumn is really around the corner, instead of feeling like it's going to be an awfully long Indian summer.

Last night, I got to make soup.  I live for soup.  I could really eat it every day and be happy.  Soup is like a chunky cable-knit sweater for the stomach.  Last night's iteration was black bean and summer squash:

The best part of this soup is that the beans and all of the vegetables were produced locally and sustainably.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but that makes food even better for me.  Like my warm, loving soup is sticking it to the lobbyists in Washington.

Even better, I was lucky enough to get to put on warm clothes today.  I've grown weary of dressing for heat, and the opportunity to wear a sweater today is such a treat.  So I'm in turn treating you to my own version of an Outfit of the Day:

Boots: Big 5 Sporting Goods / Pants: Express / Sweater: Charlotte Russe circa 2006 / Necklaces: Jewel Mint
I'm not in love with my new haircut.  I think it makes me look like a grandma.  But I was broke, and in desperate need, so I stopped in to one of those cheapo salons, hoping that they could figure out how to trim hair.  It turns out, they can't.  How is that even possible???  Oh well.  Good thing about hair is that it grows, because those fringe bangs are making my eye twitch.

No, I won't be drinking a Pumpkin Spice latte, because I don't like them.  I won't be eating a pumpkin cream cheese muffin, because I can't afford to waste all of my WW points.  But I am going to cozy up in my sweater, drink tea, and eat soup while I eagerly anticipate the dawning of Autumn.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Blisters and Mental blocks

Oh Tuesday, you sly devil.  You totally crept up on me, I guess amidst the myriad of errands I ran yesterday.  Yet here you are, and here I am.

I guess we're going to have to make the best of it.

I honestly have little motivation to blog right now.  Not in general, just right at this particular moment.  I feel like I have something to say, some topic that should be bubbling up, but it's just out of reach, locked in some hidden recess of my mind.

I just realized I have a blister on the top of my foot from walking around in flip-flops.  That's going to make today extra special.

Since we all know that I've officially got nothing today, I'll leave you with some images that I took on Sunday up at Rocky Mountain National Park, aka Heaven on Earth.  I hope they brighten your day as much as they do mine.

See you tomorrow.  Keep your fingers crossed that whatever it is that's gnawing at the back of my mind makes itself known in the net 24 hours or so, will you?

Monday, September 10, 2012

It's a numbers game

When I was younger, my dad perpetually tried to explain to me that all things in life can be boiled down to numbers, math, and physics.  At the time, I really hated that.  I mean, he was trying to tell me that the beauty of a flute playing was just a bunch of icky math and physics!  As I've gotten older, I've learned how right my dad is.  Numbers are everywhere, and you really can boil it all down "to the numbers".  See some of our numbers from last week:

1. The number of chocolate dipped DQ cones I consumed:

Coincidentally, also the number I have now consumed in my entire life.  I was always more of a Blizzard kind of girl.

2. The number of days my weekend contained this week.

3. The number of times I looked at the garlic mashed potatoes on Ammon's plate on Friday night, wishing they were on my plate instead:

4.5. The height of my new shoes for the wedding we're going to in 2 weeks:

5. The number of people who looked at me sideways in Wal-Mart last night when I laughed out loud over finding this product on the shelf:

6. The number of days I've been doing the WW PointsPlus 2012 Program

7. The number of times I was shocked over the points value of ANY food on the PointsPlus 2012 program.

26. My new number of food points I am allotted in a day (as of Sunday)

27. The number of food points I was initially allotted for a day

31. The goal number of activity points I was given last Wed.

33. The number of activity points I earned from Wed to Sat.

There are more numbers, but I don't want to keep you here ALL day.  You've got other blogs to read!  Oh, and you should probably do some work, too ;-).  Hope your Monday is fantastic!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nutricious and delicious...

Can I get a "Woot Woot" for Sunday from anyone?  It was such a crazy week at work, and school wasn't much better, so I'm glad we made it to MY Saturday, which is Sunday.  Darn work schedules going and complicating things.

Jessah over at Dreaming of Dimples totally made my day the other day by dropping by to tell me about a crock pot recipe exchange that she is hosting with a couple of other girls.  I immediately knew I had to join in the fun... then I realized that I have very few crock pot recipes that I love, and none that had not been blogged a million times by other people.  Then I realized that I could tell you about what I use my crock pot for ALL THE TIME, even though it isn't a recipe per se...

You see, I find that my crock pot is the best for cooking dried beans.  I'm sure that a lot of you choose to buy canned beans when a recipe calls for beans.  However with BPA and lead concerns, it can be hard to find beans in BPA-free cans.  Also, the gas and discomfort many experience with canned beans is greatly decreased in home-cooked beans, because the fiber is able to break down further during the slow cooking process.  And I don't want to even mention how cheap this is... because you all would be shocked by how much money you could be saving buying your beans dried in bulk, then cooking them at home.  Convenience has a hefty price tag.

So here's a quick lesson on making your beans in the crock pot:

1) Procure dried beans.  Ours come from our local farm share, but you can find them at the supermarket.

2) Figure out how much cooked beans you will need, and divide that amount by 3.  This is how much of the dried beans you will need.  I want to make 6 cups of cooked beans, so I'm starting with 2 cups dried.

3) Rinse your beans.  A lot.  A mesh strainer works best for this task, I usually rinse my dried beans for 30-45 seconds under cold water.

4) Plop them in your crock pot, and fill that bad boy up with water.  I leave a one inch gap between the water line and the top of the pot.

5) Decide if you want to add seasoning.  Note that the seasoning you add is going to do more for the cooking water than for the beans themselves, so you only need to do this if you will be adding the cooking water to a recipe along with the beans.  I'm planning on using part of my beans for a soup, and I'll reserve quite a bit of the bean water as a stock.  As a result, I added the stems from one bunch of parsley (bundled together, so they aren't a mess later), 3 whole garlic cloves, and a teaspoon of salt.

6) Set your crock pot to low, put the lid on, and walk away.  6-8 hours later, you will have perfectly cooked beans without soaking or stirring!

I hope you guys give it a try... they really are better than the beans you get out of a can.  Are you linking up your favorite crock pot recipe too?  I can't wait to read it and add it to my "must try" list!  Hope you all are having a fantastic Sunday =).

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday's letters

Every now and then, it's fun to participate in a link-up or two, and I think that Friday's letters is a little extra fun.  It totally encourages those little things that pop into your head to bounce around the interwebs for all to see!

Dear Blog friends,

Thank you for the amazing discussions we always manage to have.  I love that I can ask you questions through a blog, and you will answer them candidly.  I am so blessed to have THE BEST readership.  Hands down.  I wouldn't trade you guys for 800 followers ever.  EVER.

Dear Co-workers,

I'm really sorry for what might happen with this coffee situation.  I know we have agreed on a minimum amount that I need to consume daily.  However, it tastes like poop when I use milk instead of half and half, or coffee creamer.  I do love y'all, and I'm sorry you may suffer for a few days while I adjust.

Dear Weight Watchers,

I can't figure out the rationale behind your new points.  3 points for 1/2 of a bag of Butter Lite popcorn seems somewhat excessive.  I'm hoping we get through our mutual adjustment phase quickly, and move on to mutual adoration.

Dear Ammon,

We're only a few weeks into the semester, and already we're both seeing the effects of our super-busy schedules.  I'm sorry that the next 3.5 months have to suck so much, but I wouldn't be able to put up with the suck if I were with anyone else but you.  And now I have that Moldy Peaches song stuck in my head.  Thanks a lot, jerk.

Dear "This Radiant Life" blog,

I love what you give me simply by being a creative, safe space for me to exist.  I never realized how much value I would find simply by creating with you.  Let's be BFFs.

Dear self,

I know that it might seem like I'm not happy with you lately, given my renewed desire to lose weight.  It simply isn't true.  I absolutely, 100% love and adore you.  And that right there is why I want to lose weight; I want to make sure that you are the healthiest, happiest, sexiest self you can be.

Have a great Friday, friends.  Hope this weekend is exactly what you need it to be!

Linking up today with Ashley:  Photobucket

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Floating down the river

I realized yesterday that I was taking a pleasure cruise down the river.  That river called "denial".  Have any of you been there?  It seems so wonderful on the surface, until you realize that there's toxic waste being dumped in just upstream of where you are, and that the fish don't look like fish anymore, more like monsters.  However, on the surface, it looks pristine, and perfect, and fine.

Not a river, but pretty

On Tuesday, one of my co-workers revealed that she had decided to enroll in Weight Watchers online for 3 months.  She was really excited to get to be on a diet plan that emphasizes budgeting, portion control, and making choices.  I agreed with her that Weight Watchers does all of these things, and that they reward you for making the good choices, like allowing you to eat nearly unlimited vegetables.  I'm really proud of her for making this choice, and for signing up for a 3 month membership.  I know that in those 3 months, she can make some big changes in her life.

As we were looking at what options and tools Weight Watchers offers, I was really intrigued.  I am familiar with their system, but had never tried their tools before.  They seemed very easy to use, very streamlined.  Gone are the days of trying to calculate points using formulas, or having to carry books and reference charts around.  Now, it's all online, and super-simple.  Since I like to use tracking tools, I decided that I would be supportive and sign up for Weight Watchers with her.  After all, everyone does better when they have a friend!

Now here's where we get to denial...

WW tells me that I am allowed 27 points per day, in addition to 49 discretionary points.  They also recommended that I "burn" 31 points through physical activity each day.  At first, I thought this would be a breeze.  Ammon and I eat mostly home-made, minimally processed foods.  I focus on buying and sourcing high-quality foods that have optimum nutritional content.  However, In the past few years, I have gotten less strict with portion sizing and control.  It was fine when I was on my feet constantly, and I could handle that kind of intake.  Yesterday, when I entered my breakfast and lunch into the online tracker, I found that I had already exceeded my daily points allowance!  What the...?  How is that possible?

The answer is coffee creamer, but that's neither here nor there.  What is important, is that I realized that I needed to WAKE UP, and stop making excuses about why the weight isn't budging with eating minimally processed food and moderate exercise.  I harp to people all the time about how diet accounts for 80% of your total weight loss success.  I know this to be true.  But I live in excuse land.  I've been that girl who goes too far with diets.  I've been the girl whose entire life is consumed by the need to eat perfectly, lose weight, not exceed my limits for the day under any circumstances, or at least kill myself balancing it out with vigorous exercise.  It isn't a position I care for.  Neither is being at the heaviest I have been in 5 years, which is where I am right now.

5 years ago

And now

I simply long to find middle ground, a place of sensibility.  I have a lot of short term and long term goals that I would like to see accomplished, and the only way to meet those goals is to chip away at them, one piece at a time.  Tracking my intake and output has always been helpful to me, and I'm hoping it will continue to prove such.  Please note, I am not being paid to endorse Weight Watchers, nor am I 100% on board with everything that they advocate.  However, I think that it's a sensible plan, and if you're an organized type-A like me, they give you an easy forum to manage your daily food and activity choices.

I'm committed to giving this a fair shake.  I'm eagerly anticipating telling you all that I'm seeing results, and that things are changing for the better.  I'm glad I'm starting this prior to half-marathon training, so that I' only getting dialed in on one thing at a time.  Baby steps, right?

So, tell me:  What choices have you made for your personal health lately?  Have you been in denial about your health and wellness?