Friday, March 29, 2013

Never Stop Your Dream

Do you ever feel like a fish out of water?  You keep gasping to be put back into the water and you can't get any, so you flop your way to a puddle, find a few moments of calm, and then realize you again need more water?  I can relate to that feeling of helplessness & despair.  These past two weeks have been rough.

Work, half marathon training, taking care of a house, attempting to close on a rental home, finding time for Neal, finding time for the dogs, finding time for my Lively Happenings Etsy business, and then finally finding time for myself. 

Wire, paint, finishing nails, jewelry chains, a sewing machine, and scraps of fabric surrounded me tonight as I sat on the floor in my craft room finishing up one of the many projects I am currently working on.  Neal stepped into the doorway, my head barely moving to acknowledge his presence as I said, "What's it like?"  He didn't even have to ask what I meant, he knows me so well.  He sighed slightly, made a slight chuckle and said, "It's going to be okay."  Neal understood that if I had the energy to make a full communication I would have said "What's it like to not have to think about work after work?  To not have responsibilities?  Obligations?" 

Life is a balancing act.  One that I am always trying better to perfect.  Although, life is ever changing.  Your daily demands from friends, family, teachers, and coworkers must be balanced with your own ambitions, needs & desires. 

Right now, I would love to be able to make beautiful jewelry & other accessories full time.  I'd love to be able to have that dream support my current lifestyle.  I'd love to not have to work on a computer for 8-10 hours a day filling in spreadsheets, taking on task after task with nearly immediate deadlines, trying to remedy other's access issues, but I know realistically that doing that work allows me to have the ability right now to support mine & Neal's other dreams.  And I accept that, though it's still hard.

I won't give up on our dreams.  I will keep pursing them though it's difficult.  I know I can do this, and I know I will find that ocean again where I will no longer be gasping for air.  I can do this.  I will do this.

Question of the day:
What are you doing to read your goals, your dreams, today?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Run of Luck 7K

This past weekend I did race # 2 of the USI running series, the Run of Luck 7K.  

Thankfully it warmed up to about 55 degrees the morning of the race, making it much warmer than the Hearts on Fire 5K.

I started this morning off with one of Neal's favorites, egg-in-toast.  This delicious breakfast has since become one of my favorites as well!  It's so simple, fun & tasty!
We served our eggs-in-toast with 2 pieces of turkey bacon.  I had to eat quickly since we didn't give ourselves much time to get to the registration.  The race started at 9am, and we arrived around 8:35am and still had to pick up my t-shirt & bib!  Oops!
As the race started, I was still putting on my iPod!  I was running so behind, both figuratively & literally!

I took off, weaved around the crowd until I got to the front, and then realized my shoe was coming untied.  You have to be kidding me!  I went off to the side & quickly tied my shoe.  We were only 3 minutes into the race, what else could go wrong?

My shoes came untied two more times.  Yes, TWO more blow-outs!  The entire race I kept thinking, what was that knot my brother showed me so this wouldn't happen in races?  I couldn't remember it, & I still can't remember it!  Note to self, Skype Greg & learn this magical knot before the 1/2 marathon.

I kept doing my standard pacing where I find a woman in front of me, and either try to keep pace with her, or pass her.  I also try to not let too many people pass me after I am well into a race, once this starts to happen I get slightly discouraged, but sometimes I know I just used too much fuel at the start.  On shoe tie number 3, around mile number 3, that happened!  One strong woman passed me, she had a lot more stamina than I, and I never did catch up to her.  

As I sprinted across the finish line, I thought, holy crap I can't believe I signed up for a half marathon, what was I thinking?  As mentioned in my blog post, Making the Most of a Quarter Century, I signed up for this 3 part running series & the Southern Indiana Classic Half Marathon.  A total of four runs between February and April.  I think I am going to take it easy on the races for the remainder of the year!

Neal found me at the finish line and let me know I was the 5th woman across the line.  Hooray!  Not to shabby for my first 7k!

I waited for the results to see if the other women were in my same division (age group) so I could see if I won a medal or not. 

It looks like the really fast women are in the age 30-34 group!  I got second in my division!

I had been planning to celebrate by getting a donut at Donut Bank.  It's a local bakery that I haven't tried in the 3 years since we have been here, but I have always wanted to.  I chose the red velvet donut with cream cheese frosting & I picked up a shamrock sugar cookie to share with Neal.   I had a lovely picture of this amazing treat, but I think I deleted it yesterday on accident!  I guess I need to go back and try some more donuts :)

This was not a bad race at all.  Though I am not looking forward to the 1/2 marathon April 6th or the 10k that's the week after, I am looking forward to finishing off my races for the year!  I am simply too competitive with myself & others.  My body desperately wants a break & I will be more than happy to give it one!
Happy Monday Ya'll!  Did you do something fun for St. Patrick's Day?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kitchen Back Splash

DIY Kitchen Back splash here we come!
Neal & I set ourselves up with this one.  We are busy people.  We work, we workout, we cook our meals, and we both run businesses on the side.  We have a lot going on, so why not take on the task of doing our own back splash.  Sure!  It'll save us money & it will only take 3 days...8 days later, we finally have our kitchen back!
Most people could probably get their kitchen back splash put up in the normal amount of time, but not us.  Our DIY project dragged on and on.  We did a great job, but we kept making little tweaks or working too late, or going out of town for the day.  Finally though, we did get the back splash we had been planning on doing for a year!

 The steps to do you own tile back splash are rather simple (no need to read through this list if you aren't DIYing's actually pretty detailed!)
  1.  Change out the electrical boxes (if you don't want the basic white and instead want brown/bronze like we did)
  2. Sand the walls & then wipe the walls clean
  3. Lay out newspaper or cardboard on your counter tops to avoid making a mess.  Tape off any other parts of your counter such as the counter lip.
  4. Make sure your counter is level, if it is not, you need to lay out your tiles level by marking the wall.
  5. If you are ending your tiles on an 'open' wall, meaning not at the end or corner of a wall, mark off your end point.
  6. Lay out your tiles, cut if needed.
  7. Spread on your thinset
  8. Put up your tiles.  Wait 24 hours or until cured
  9. Grout your tiles, whipping them clean (some say wait no time, some 10 minutes, others 30 minutes).  Wait 12-24 hours or until cured
  10. Caulk the outer parts of your tile such as where it meets the cabinets, counter top, or ends on the wall space.  Wait 24 hours for that to cure.
  11. Seal your tile
  12. Put on your finishing switch covers with spacers
  13. Enjoy your new tiled wall!
In progress...
Sounds easy enough, right?  Well...not so fast.  For us, we put up our tiles on Friday and let them cure overnight only to decide we wanted to tile a little bit more, so then we had to buy more tile, put that up and let it cure again.  It was now Sunday by the time they were cured.
The little section we couldn't live without tile after day 1.
On Sunday afternoon, we grouted.  First we were waiting 15-30 minutes to wipe off the grout.  Well, that's not so great.  We literally scrapped every single tile on this section of the kitchen.  Yes, you read that right.  Every tile was whipped down with a damp cloth, then a sponge, then a Q-Tip.  We had to be extremely careful not to hit the grout lines while doing this because the grout hadn't cured yet and we still needed to get it off the tiles before it dried & cured on them!

Hand cleaning each tile...

After hand cleaning.
Then, we waited, and waited some more, and then finally found the time 3 days later, on Wednesday night, to caulk the tiles' edges.  I left this job for Neal to do.  At first he made the thinnest little caulk lines and thought they looked great.  Personally, I think he was sick of not having a kitchen & by this point he honestly didn't want to do anymore so he could be done with the project.  I felt the same way.  He gave in and put a much thicker caulk line.
We let Thursday go by as I was out of town for the majority of the day.  I left for Nashville at 7am and arrived back home around midnight!  Yikes!
On Friday, Neal came home with grout sealer, and we finally wrapped up the project!
We have been able to admire our new back splash for the last few days.  I am so glad we did it, but now I definitely know that remodeling a home will not be something I am looking forward to doing as we both can procrastinate & we both are, as most adults, busy people.

Question of the day:
Have you done a DIY project with a friend or family member that seemed to drag on & on? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weekly Dinners & Druzies

Neal & I finished putting up our kitchen back splash on Friday evening, and now we need to take time to cook some yummy meals & enjoy our beautiful 'new' kitchen!

This week we are finishing up some leftovers, making my new favorite crock pot dish, Italian beef, and going back to a tasty recipe I used to make a ton before I found out I was allergic to tomatoes!

Meal 1 - Burgers
Neal made some burgers on Saturday when we had some friends over, and we had a few extra, so we are going to be warming those back up to enjoy!  Neal seriously makes the best burgers.  He gets good ground beef, adds in spices, grills to perfections & tops with cheese.  These burgers always rock!

Meal 2 - Shrimp Pasta
Cooked shrimp, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, whole wheat pasta, & roasted red pepper Alfredo sauce here we come!

Meal 3 - Italian Beef, crock pot style
This was my favorite recipe from the Crock Pot Challenge.  I love how flavorful the beef gets & it's so simple & great for leftovers!  Here's the original recipe.

Meal 4 - Chicken Parmesan Bundles
I used to make these as a specialty before I realized I was allergic to tomatoes.  I cut them out of the meal plan since they have marinara in them, however I am going to substitute a creamy pesto sauce for the marinara.  Here's the original recipe from Kraft foods.

That's it!  We will have plenty of leftovers from these meals for dinner or some lunch mixings.

Happy start of the week!  I'm off to go get creative with these beauties.  New designs will be on the Etsy shop over the next few weeks!


Friday, March 8, 2013

March 2013 Workouts

Friday, March 1st - off, sick

Saturday, March 2nd 
  • 7.1 miles in 65minutes!  Not bad for 3 days of being sick!  Long run pace (8:50) for half marathon training
Sunday, March 3rd - off

Monday, March 4th 
  • Power Yoga
Tuesday, March 5th
  • Speed run for half marathon training 4x800m at 7:15 pace
Wednesday, March 6th
  • Power Yoga
Thursday, March 7th
  • 8 mile tempo run at 8:05 pace for half marathon training. I had to walk a little bit because I simply didn't have enough energy, but still made the run in 68 min!  Running this far in the morning before a FULL breakfast doesn't work for me.
Friday, March 8th
  • Off...? I forgot!
Saturday, March 9th
  • 8 mile long run, my average pace was 8:59, only 9 seconds slower than I was supposed to aim for yay!  It was my first training run outdoors.  If you don't know, I hate the cold.  So it was finally warm enough for an outdoor run!
Sunday, March 10th
  • Off!
Monday, March 11th
  • Off! Oops!  Time go the best of me :)
Tuesday, March 12th
  • 6x400 speed training runs.  7:03 pace, 90 second break between sprints
Wednesday, March 13th
  • Power Yoga!
Thursday, March 14th
  • 6 mile Tempo run.  8:05 pace
Friday, March 15th
  • No workout!
Saturday, March 16th
  • 7K Race - Run of Luck with USI Running series!  I got 2nd in my division!
Sunday, March 17th
  • off!
Monday, March 18th
  • TIU Beach Babe DVD Surfer Girl workout
Tuesday, March 19th
  • Speed runs 4x1600m 7:45 pace with 90 sec rest intervals.
Wednesday, March 20th
  • Yoga!
Thursday, March 21st
  • Too busy, took the day off :)
Friday, March 22nd
  • HITT the Beach with TIU
Saturday, March 23nd
  • 5.5 + mile run with Sasha!  About 55 minutes and lovely run along the Ohio Riverfront in Newburgh.
Sunday, March 24th- off
Monday, March 25th - off? I forgot to write it down
Tuesday, March 26th 
  • 3x800m, run, 90 second interval breaks.
Wednesday, March 27th
  • Power Yoga
Thursday, March 28th - off
Friday, March 29th - off
Saturday March 30th
  • 3 mile trail run with Walden
Sunday, March 31st- off


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

'Thin' Mint Smoothie

Busy, busy, busy.  I have been overwhelmed this month!  Work, Etsy orders, half marathon training, tile back splash, custom orders for Etsy, more work, finding time to spend with my's all just piling in on me!

However, today I had one amazing moment of bliss in the middle of a chaotic work schedule.  I wanted a smoothie, so I whipped up what I thought would satisfy my never ending sweet tooth.  A 'Thin' Mint Smoothie!

WOW!  It's so good and so tasty, you seriously wouldn't know it was healthy if you didn't put it together yourself.  I felt like a kid at the fair getting an ice cream cone treat!

So to make this post short, simple, sweet & to the point, here's the recipe!
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • 1/8 t mint extract (or ~ real mint leaves)
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 serving Vanilla #PerfectFit Protein (or another protein)
  • Enough unsweet vanilla almond milk to get things moving (1 - 1.5 cups) 
After blending that, toss in 2 T carob chips and blend slightly so they are still a little thicker (like a crumbly cookie). Serve and enjoy! 
Let me know if you try this!  I am off to get back to work!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Weekly Dinner Posts with Super Easy Meals!

My husband & I are in the middle of a minor kitchen 'remodel'.  Okay, really we are just putting up a new tile back splash & our project keeps taking just a little longer than planned. 

First, we thought we would be finished by Saturday evening.  We watched DIY Videos and were set!  Well today is Monday, our kitchen is still a wreck, and we said we would finish today.  Oh life, how you get in the way with work, Etsy business, working out & the numerous other excuses we can find to put off finishing the back splash until 'tomorrow'.

I am writing this as I am munching on what may be the last little bit of food that we don't have to prepare, a lovely pimento sandwich on Ezekiel bread &  a salad with homemade balsamic dressing, nuts, peppers & cheese.  I am desperate for a real home 'cooked' meal.  We ate our Friday, Saturday & Sunday! WHAT!  Normally we only eat out one day a week, and that's on Pizza Sunday where we order pizza, pick it up and really eat in while watching "Weeds", "Lost" or a movie from the library.  If you haven't checked out your library for free movies, you need to do so!

Onto the meal planning.  This week I plan on making the following:

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese with bacon.  This is one of my favorites because I am in  love with goat cheese, pesto, avocado & of course, bacon!

Shrimp Stir Fry, because we ended up not making it last week.

  • Ingredients

    • 15-20 Medium Cooked Shrimp (or you can cook yourself)
    • 3 Cups of frozen veggies. Walmart actually sells a stir fry veggie bag in their frozen section that I use
    • 2 T Olive Oil
    • Homemade Teriyaki sauce, the sauce that's in the Walmart bag, or a mixture of sauces from the fridge is what I do
  • How to cook

    • Prep your shrimp by defrosting them if frozen or cooking them if they are uncooked. We put ours in a bowl of water, changing out the water with luke warm to cool water until they are no longer frozen. Pat them dry & remove the tails.
    • Put your shrimp with your sauce mix in a separate bowl so it can marinate some flavor.
    • Heat a pan on medium, add your olive oil & cook your vegetables how you like them. Add a little of the sauce to the pan while you are cooking.
    • Toss the shrimp and rest of the sauce into the pan. Warm it all up and serve!

    Fish with Julie's Ginger Curry Cauliflower.  This is super easy and delicious.  Fish is kinda my go to meal when I need something easy & quick.
    • We simply thaw out frozen fish & lightly season it with pre mixed seasoning.  My favorite is Northwoods seasoning.  Then we put a pan on medium heat, melt a little butter & coo for 2-4 minutes on each side.

    Lastly, another crock pot recipe, Chicken Gumbo Ya Ya.  This one is from my father & his girlfriend Kim.  We can't wait to try it!

    This makes my week nice and easy when I have it all planned out for dinner.  Hopefully our kitchen will be back to normal so I can cook up the fish or shrimp stir fry tomorrow!

    Question of the day:

    What's your go to easy dinner meal?

    Sunday, March 3, 2013

    Crock Pot Challenge by PBFingers Wrap-up

    Earlier this year Julie from PB Fingers challenged herself & other readers of her blog to a Crock pot Challenge

    The crock pot in many households, definitely including our own, is highly underused.  Yet, almost every single meal I get from the crock pot is absolutely fantastic!  Why do I not use my crock pot more often?  I have no idea to be quite honest, but I am so glad I took on this challenge and made some amazing crock pot recipes!

    At first, it was a challenge finding recipes that didn't have tomatoes in them.  It really stinks to be allergic to tomatoes.  You can't eat marinara, burgers with ketchup, many stews, red sauce pizza, BLT's...etc, but life goes on!  I had to make a few alternatives to some of my recipes to not include tomatoes, such as beef stew.  Do you know how hard it is to find a vegetable stock without tomatoes in it?  Pretty hard!  Thank goodness for Emeril & his organic all natural Vegetable Stock!

    Being able to use the crock pot for dinners made evenings easier:
    1. I put it all together in the morning & then the house smells delicious all day & I am just waiting anxiously for dinner
    2. We have leftovers for days.  Sometimes that's a good thing, other times it is annoying.  We didn't try freezing leftovers, but that may be an option.
    3. Not having to make dinner at night left me time to make lots of non-slip headbands, jewelry & jewelry organizers for my Etsy shop!  WIN!
    4. It leaves me an option to work out easier in the evening if I don't get up to do an AM workout.  This has become nice on Wednesdays when I do Power Yoga for my half marathon training.
    Now onto the recipes!

    Italian Beef
    My absolute favorite was the easiest to make and tasted the best as leftovers, the Italian Beef!  My husband suggested it, I had never heard of Italian beef before, and oh boy am I hooked!  I also tried Terra Chips for the first time.  I found them delicious, but some of them were exceptionally hard...wonder if that's normal?
    Apple & Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats
    My least favorite ended up being the Apple & Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats.  This is solely because I have decided that I do not like baked apples that are mushy.  I love applesauce, I also love apple pie.  However, if I am going to have an apple pie, I want my apples to be slightly crispy still, just the way my dear friend Hope & my beautiful mom make their apple pies!
    • Most people that have tried overnight apple cinnamon oats love them!  You might too, so here's my recipe.  Although, if you are like me & don't like mushy apple chunks, put them in for 45 min or so when you wake up!
    • I combined a few recipes to make this one:
      • 1 C Steel Cut Oats, 3.5 C Water (could also do a water or milk combo or water/apple juice combo), 1.5 t cinnamon, dash of all spice.
      • Put in in a crock pot, slightly stir, cook it for 8-10 hours overnight on low. 
      • In the morning, top it w/ chopped walnuts, a little maple syrup (1/2 T) and raisins or dried fruit & you are good to go!
    Beef Stew
    This is always a favorite in our house.  Sometimes, I think we eat it because we know we are going to have cornbread served with the stew!  I substitute the vegetable juice for vegetable stock.  Basically all vegetable juice is tomato based, which makes for an extremely tasty stew, but when you have EE & are allergic like myself, it's best to avoid the tomatoes!

    Cranberry Pork Roast
    The dish, which was provided by my father and his girl friend, almost came in first.  Had the Italian beef hadn't have been so freaking amazing!  This Cranberry Pork Roast is something I never would have thought to make, and I am so glad Kim & Dad provided us this amazing recipe.

    Pineapple Chicken
    I only cooked one serving of this since Neal was out of town, & it turned out to be slightly dry, but it was still a great dinner nonetheless.

    White Chicken Chili
    This tasty chili from Bush's Beans is a favorite in my household as well.  Typically we cook this on the stove top, but making it in the crock pot really made for a simple cleanup and a lot less time checking back in on the meal!  Again, we just left out the tomatoes!

    Greek Chicken
    Lastly, I tried Tone it Up's Greek Chicken with Quinoa.  I really really liked it!  My husband seemed indifferent, but I don't think he put any Greek yogurt with his!  The recipe from their post doesn't call for the Greek yogurt, but I think it's a tasty addition to the meal!

    That wraps up the 7 crock pot recipes I tried during the challenge.  Stay tuned tomorrow for my Weekly Dinner Wrap-Up menu where I include Chicken Gumbo Ya Ya, another crock pot recipe from my father & Kim!

    Question of the day
    What's your favorite thing about making meals in your crock pot?

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    Allergy Season

    Ugh, I hate allergies.  I hate allergies because it seems like now sometimes my head will feel like a helium inflated balloon & other times my throat is too sore to swallow comfortably.  Thank you eosinphillic esophogitis! Ugh.

    Since Tuesday I have felt icky.  First my throat just felt raw, sore & scratched.  I didn't want to go to the doctor yet since I didn't see any white dot things in the back of my throat or have a fever to indicate that it could be strep.  So I went on with my work day & then onto my speed run for the half marathon training

    Tuesday night, sleep seemed to never come.  My throat hurt so much!  I found a cough drop to suck on around midnight & woke up with it still partially dissolved at 5am.  Talk about a dry mouth!  I could hardly even talk when I woke up.  Every syllable hurt as it got stuck in the back of my throat and wouldn't let me make any form of verbal communication.

    I went to the local grocer where I found Traditional Medicinals tea & Burt's Bees Natural Throat Drops.  I took as many as I could.

    I decided to skip out on Power Yoga and take a workout break.  I felt mentally drained & even though I felt the tea helping my throat, I still could barely talk and didn't visit the doctor to 100% rule out a viral infection.  You never want to be the one that gets everyone else sick, right?

    Wednesday night passed with the help of an Advil & a melatonin.  I woke up with a sore throat, but not as sore as I had the night before.  At 7:30 am I had a visit to the allergist planned to go over my recent EE scope anyways, so I figured I'd ask them what was going on.

    I had some more tea and was on my way!

    The allergist confirmed what I had thought all along.  My EE had improved, but not enough to stop taking my inhaler daily & a protonix when I felt acid reflux occurring.  Ugh again.  They checked my throat and concluded that it was likely sore due to a combination of allergies & acid reflux.  I was prescribed to take a nasal spray (thankfully they had a sample for me!) and some protonix for a few days.

    Now it's Friday, officially 4 days since the start of me feeling like shit began.  My throat feels much better, but now my head is getting the big helium inflated balloon feeling.  Ugh.  I just want to feel 100% and to get back on with my half marathon training!

    A special thanks to my friend that suggested the Traditional Medicinals tea. Natasha got me hooked on their Raspberry Leaf for menstrual reasons & now I am obsessed with Gypsy Cold Cure & Throat Coat!  Also, my friend Mary told me about cutting up a garlic clove and having it with a glass of water after every meal.  Garlic helps relieve toxins & let me tell you, I actually LOVE this stuff, some people find it bitter, but not me.  I have been cutting up cloves and popping them like candy!  My throat feels better, now lets see if we can get my head there too!

    For now, I will keep drinking my tea & eating my garlic! 
    I heard that Ginger Tea is good for acid reflux, thankfully Traditional Medicinals also makes a ginger tea!  Once I am over the head/throat stuff, I'll give it a try!
    Questions of the day
    • Do you try any homeopathic remedies when you are sick? ...tea, garlic, steam bath, gargling of liquids etc.
    • Do you have any suggestions for me on my crazy throat/head/acid reflux issues. ...gee I sound like I am so sick, but I promise you, I really am feeling better & I am a healthy person typically!