Birthday excuses

Let’s be serious here. Birthdays are great excuses for just about anything. Unless you’re an air traffic controller or surgeon. In those cases, you probably shouldn’t say, “It’s my birthday, so I get to drink on the job.”

Because I am neither of those two things, I think I got away with a good amount of stuff…

1. It’s my birthday, so I shouldn’t have to go to school.

Fortunately, I don’t have Monday classes this semester, so I didn’t have to play hookey. I enjoyed waking up with Dan before he went into class and then heading back to bed for some laziness with Tracker.

Perfect start to the morning.

2. It’s my birthday, so I should postpone homework as long as possible.

Rather than immediately finishing up a project, I continued my low-key morning with a run. (<<Birthday tradition!)

After that, I put on my new pair of boots, which is a perfect gift from my parents, even though I didn’t have anywhere to go.

So in love!

3. It’s my birthday, so I can have whatever I want to eat.

For breakfast, that meant hot oats in a jar of nearly finished chocolate-peanut butter. For lunch, it was a raspberry + chocolate protein powder smoothie, which was served up in a new tumbler from my sister-in-law!

4. It’s my birthday, so I can have coffee at any time of the day.

Honestly, having an afternoon cup of coffee was just an excuse to use a new mug from my sister.

Coffee + presidents = two of my favorite things!

A little while later, there was a knock at the door.

5. It’s my birthday, so I can brag about having the best husband in the world.

It was my ideal bouquet: sunflowers, greens and autumn foliage. So beautiful!

6. It’s my birthday, so it’s fine to go out on the town.

Dan finally got home from school in the afternoon, so the real celebration was able to begin.

When Dan asked where I wanted to go to dinner a few days ago, I decided on a whim that I wanted to try out Seasons 52, a new restaurant in Kansas City.

The concept is that the menu is seasonally, locally based. The bulk of the offerings change four times a year — with each season. There are also specials that change every week in reflection with the farmers’ market offerings.

Dan summed it up by saying, “This is your kind of restaurant!”

We scanned the menu, but the drink list caught my eye. I know that I said I wasn’t going to drink, but…

7. It’s my birthday, so I can change my mind.

Really, I weighed the pros and cons and decided I had nothing to prove. I’ve challenged myself before and it’s really not worth it.

So, I went with a skinny raspberry + chocolate martini. It was delicious, but I couldn’t make it through the whole thing!

Honestly, the food was the highlight of the meal.

I had a sampler plate with roasted vegetables, hoisin-glazed tofu and the best tabbouleh ever.

To round the meal out, Dan and I each finished with two-bite desserts. Pumpkin pie for him…

And an incredible peanut butter + chocolate mousse cake for me.

Honestly, Dan and I were both blown away by the restaurant. The selection was great, the food was incredible and the service was truly great. Consider it officially recommended!

Now, it’s still my birthday, so I’m off to enjoy the rest of the evening with my man and girl. So far, it’s good to be 21.


It’s November 14, 2011. I am officially 21 years old.

Not like there was a whole lot of doubt that I would make it to this mark, but it certainly seemed far away for a long time. I’m mostly excited about being able to go to some of the places from which I was previously barred. (Pun is so intended.)

A week full of fun plans kicked off this Saturday with a stay at Acorn’s Resort in northern Kansas. Back in September, Dan and I won a voucher for a cabin and we immediately started making plans for a party. Fortunately, eight of our closest friends were free for the night and willing to join us for a free mini-vacation. Tracker even got to come along!

Although Dan and I had toured a similar cabin back in September, we were impressed all over again to see our accommodations!

The cabin had five bedrooms, a full kitchen, leather couches and two flat-screen TVs. Definitely acceptable.

A little while after Dan and I got to the cabin, my friend Katelyn, who lives back in Lincoln, arrived. She and I quickly changed and took Tracker out for a great trail run. Fortunately, I still remembered the route from the 5K, so we stuck to that.

By the time we got back and showered up, pretty much everyone else had arrived. The boys got to work on the dinner — brats, hamburgers and veggie burgers — while the girls found some other ways to keep occupied.

[Sorry, Scott. You’re not a girl.]

After dinner was served and consumed, it was time for some homemade cookie cake. I would be embarrassed to admit that I made my own cake — but it was so dang good, I’m fine with taking credit.

I made Mama Pea’s chocolate chip cookie cake, but took it over the top by finishing it with my cookie dough frosting.

The rest of the night was devoted to having fun with friends.

We also played a countless number of card games. I caught Dan in the middle of Indian poker.

Everyone stayed up late laughing and chatting except for Tracker, who was turned into a big baby when 10 o’clock rolled around.

The next morning, everyone got up in time to enjoy some pancakes. I mixed up these dry ingredients at home and combined it with milk, the flax-seed mixture and vanilla at the cabin.

Pancakes all around!

Then we got everything back in place, cleaned up and packed up. We hit the road just before noon with enough time for a last group picture.

Now Dan, Track and I are back home. I would feel a little bit more disappointed that this weekend is over, because we’ve been looking forward to it for so long. But, there is still a lot of fun to come this week and I’m equally excited to see what’s ahead!

Question: What did you do for your 21st birthday?

Five things

So thankful it is the weekend right now — especially because it is this weekend.

See, Dan and I have been looking forward to this weekend since September, when we won a stay at a lake cabin for 10. We were able to organize it so that eight of our closest friends can go out there for a night of hanging out, relaxing and maybe celebrating my birthday. (It’s Monday, no big deal.)

Right now, we are in preparation mode. On the to-do list: grocery shopping, packing and putting together some food to feast on. In the meantime, I thought this would be to share a list of five things you might not know about me.

1. I never got a “hair cut” (only trims) until after I graduated high school.

I used to pride myself on the fact that I never had more than one inch cut from my hair at the time. But, by the time I graduated high school, it was time for a change. So, two days after graduation, I got 14 inches chopped off and donated to Locks of Love.

2. I moved across the country in the middle of high school.

I lived in Ohio from fourth grade until the middle of my sophomore year, when my family uprooted again to move to Nebraska. Although it was challenging, I made some really, really great friends in Nebraska and was able to stay friends with some really, really great people in Ohio.

3. I started doing hurdles before seventh grade.

During high school, my athletic life basically revolved around hurdles. I conditioned all throughout the winter, competed all through the spring and even did cross-country just to keep in shape. The 100-meter race was my absolute favorite.

4. I used to model for Limited Too.

Sorry, no picture of this. The Limited company is based out of Ohio, so I somehow got into modeling for the national catalogs. It was fun for me, because I basically got to play dress up and get paid.

Note: I just read that all “Limited Too” stores switched over to “Justice” stores. Weird!

5. I started school when I was four years old.

In Michigan, the cut-off date for school is December, so I was able to squeeze by. Still, I have always been the youngest in my classes and went to college when I was 17. I’ve always liked being young for my grade, but my mom used to second-guess her decision to send me so soon.

Question: What’s a fun fact about yourself?

Note: This was previously titled “Seven Things,” but then I got lazy. Sorry… Have a great weekend!

Do I have an accent?

I always say that I have a confused accent. On one hand, I’m from Michigan. I’ve also lived all around the Midwest. But, my mom’s from Texas and talks with a slight dialect — although it’s nothing like some of my aunts.

I think that has left me with unusual pronunciations for some words, so I’m always intrigued to hear how other peoples’ accents differ. I guess I’m not alone in this either, as the whole concept of an accent vlog has been popular for a while. In fact, it’s so popular that I can’t track down the original source. (Tell me if you know who I should give credit to!)

The premise of it is that I repeat a list of words, which have different pronunciations around the country, and answer some questions, which have different answers around the country.

Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught


What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you use to change the TV channel?

Anyway, with no further ado, here is my first ever vlog!

Did you watch it? I’ll admit that I sometimes jump over vlogs, but these ones were always amusing to me!

If you did tune into my voice, do I sound similar to what you would have imagined? Do I have an accent?

Question: Do you think you have an accent?


Is it too soon to say that I am in love?

I mean, I’ve only known this significant other for a few hours. And, yet, I am head over heels.

So, I’m just going to admit it: This is iLove.

I was perfectly content with my old phone. At least I thought.

I had it for two years and it never really did me wrong. But, when we were out one day, a new phone caught my eye — and I just couldn’t get it off my mind. It’s not like my old phone was bad. This new phones is just so… good.

I would feel more guilty about it, but there are so many (free) apps that help my stay healthy. My old phone just didn’t offer those kinds of things. Here are a few apps that I am already in iLove with…


One of my dietician friends at the University actually recommended the fooducate app to me. Naturally, I trust her judgment, so I instantly downloaded it. Basically, the app allows me to scan the bar code or search for any product at the grocery store. Then it reports a nutritional grade (A+, A, A-, B+, etc.) that was determined by nutritionists. There are also tidbits of miscellaneous, relevant information about the product as well as alternatives.

For example, Jif Natural Peanut butter is graded a “B.” The information says that “natural” is an unregulated term. As for alternatives, Trader Joe’s Creamy, Salted Peanut Butter is scored at an A-.


I like Epicurious on the Internet, but it is even more valuable on my iPhone. This is partially because I can pull up random recipes on-the-go. It also allows me to search by ingredients, courses, cuisines, dietary considerations, etc.

But, honestly, the best attribute is the shopping list that it allows me to write. I seem to have 10 different shopping lists going at once, so it will help to have them all in one place.


I’ve wanted a Garmin for-ev-uh. But (although I still kind of do) the RunKeeper app should help me get by in the meantime. That’s because, there is a whole GPS built into it that should track my route, show my pace and give me a ton of fun stats. I haven’t tested it out yet, but it seems to have a lot of potential.


This isn’t a health app, per say. But, Instagram is pretty cool because it’s a simple photo editor that also makes it super simple to upload photos to Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Case and point: You may have seen this little gem on my Twitter earlier today.

Now, the only question is: How did I get by for so long without the iPhone?

Question: How old is your phone? If you have an iPhone, what are your favorite apps?

Worth Talking About Wednesday: DIY Infinity Scarf

Just when you thought you knew what to expect with “Worth Talking About Wednesday,” I’m mixing up the template a little bit this week: Rather than showcase a few things that are worth talking about, I am focusing on just one topic this week.

I know. Hold onto your seats.

DIY Infinity Scarf

This is worth talking about for a few reasons.

  1. Infinity scarves are neat concepts, but dang-it if they aren’t expensive. It’s a circle of comfortable fabric — why does that require are $20+ price tag?
  2. This is a very easy DIY project even with no sewing machine. I did it. You can do it.
  3. My Martha Stewart streak doesn’t seem to be letting up.

What you need:

  • Old sweater, sweatshirt or t-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • Embroidery floss
  • Embroidery needle


  • Lay the sweater out on the floor.

  • Cut a horizontal line across the sweater, just underneath the sleeves.
  • Fold that in half vertically to measure two equal sections. Cut across. You should now have two equally sized tubes.

  • Horizontally cut each tube. Now you should have two, long and equally sized rectangles.
  • Thread the needle. Pin the end of one rectangles to the other, so the ends are overlapping about 1/2″.

  • Sew the ends together with a running stitch. Overlap at the sides, so the fabric doesn’t fray.
  • Repeat with other ends of the rectangles, forming a large circle.

This took me barely any time at all. Love those kinds of projects!

Wrapped three-times around, the scarf was a perfect fit. It’s also perfect for weird self-portraits.

And… Not to leave you guys without some real Wednesday entertainment, here’s a picture that had me laughing this week.

Questions: What do you think is worth talking about this week?

Goals of 17-year-old me

In the distant past that was my senior year of high school, I tried to compose a list of the 100 things I wanted to accomplish in life. After a few days of adding to the list, I had only come up with 46 goals. But, what it lacked in quantity, I think it makes up for in quality — Especially four years later, when I can look back and see what I’ve accomplished, what I continue to dream of and what I now think is obsolete.

  • Graduate from the University of Kansas. Just a few more months until  (knock on wood) this goal is accomplished.
  • Work for a non-governmental organization in a developing country. Not something I’m really interested in at this point.
  • Get my law degree. Decided not to pursue this a few years ago.
  • Marry a man who makes me laugh, smile and feel good. He must also be a hard-worker who values the things I do. Must be attractive — to me! I’m even luckier in this aspect than I ever thought possible. 

  • Have four or five children. Ask me how I feel about this in a few years…
  • Have a career as a political correspondent. My interest in politics has faded, while my passion for health has grown. 
  • Be able to see my parents and sister whenever I need to. I am so excited to have my sister in town next year, but I hope to be even closer to my parents some day. Nonetheless, I can still see them whenever I really need to. Three hours isn’t a bad drive!
  • Travel to all seven continents. Since writing this list, I’ve checked one (Europe) off this list. Still more to go. And, yes, I want to step foot on Antarctica!
  • Run a marathon. Working my way toward this goal, thanks to three half-marathons. It’s still a big jump up to a full marathon and I’m not quite ready for that commitment yet. 
  • Write a book. This is a major goal for me to accomplish… Some day.
  • Meet a president of the United States. Preferably John Kennedy. I’ll wait for them to invent time travel.
  • Go sky diving. This isn’t too high on my list. 
  • Keep in touch with old friends. Done this pretty well so far. I think a testament to that is the fact that four of my bridesmaids were friends from high school. 

  • Speak to a crowd larger than 10,000 people. If I interpret this loosely, it could be a goal of getting 10,000 hits on my blog.
  • Visit all 50 states. I mostly need to hit up the northeast and Hawaii. 
  • Go backpacking. Dan and I plan on hiking a 14-er in Colorado next summer, so that will check this off the list!
  • Make very little money. Uhm, life right now.
  • Make a lot of money. The real goal is just to be financially stable and comfortable.
  • Truly impact someone’s life. This difficulty with this goal is that I would never necessarily know if it’s accomplished. 
  • Continue to have and grow in faith with God. With four more years of life, I’ve had four more years of ups and downs. Through it all, I think my faith has grown, but there is still room.
  • Not eat chocolate for a whole year. Did this during 2009, but I don’t know if it’s something to be proud of. 
  • Really develop an art skill. With no real skills, I don’t know what will happen with this.
  • Teach aerobics. I don’t know if I still want to teach aerobics, but I would like to teach some kind of fitness class or lead a group.
  • Be able to speak another language and have the chance to use it. Definitely tested this during my summer of studying abroad. I lived with a host family, so I spoke a lot of German!

  • Don’t drink any alcohol on my 21st birthday. Ask me about this next week, but it’s still a goal… Although Tuesday is a free-for-all!
  • Find a cause that I can be truly passionate about. Check! I am really passionate about health and body confidence. 
  • Be comfortable in my own skin. I wouldn’t check this off the list quite yet, but I’ve definitely improved since I wrote this list.
  • Learn how to dance a variety of dances. Don’t really know what I was thinking when I wrote this.
  • Be on national television or write for a national publication. Still hope for this.
  • Be able to make the perfect batch of cookies at any time. I have a few different versions that would satisfy this goal.
  • Figure out how to spend a lot of time with my family and balance a career. I would say this is more important to me now than it was when I wrote it. I now have a better appreciation for family.
  • Sew a quilt. I request a sewing machine first.
  • Go scuba diving. I went snorkeling on the honeymoon, which is kind of a cop-out. Who has time to take scuba lessons while living in Kansas?
  • Write handwritten letters every once in a while. I need a reminder to do this. 
  • Read the whole bible. I’ve made more progress and lost track of what I’ve actually read. But, I am closer!
  • Play with a monkey. Why isn’t this No. 1?
  • Go to Austria and Ireland. My dad’s family is purely Irish while my mom’s is primarily Austrian. For those reasons, I always wanted to see where my ancestors came from. I crossed Austria off the list when I was studying abroad.

  • Tell someone what I truly think of them. I make this goal happen every time I tell Dan, “I love you.” Cheesy, but true!
  • Go surfing. Maybe when I visit Hawaii!
  • Storm chase and actually see a tornado. Living in Nebraska, storm chasing was out weekend entertainment during high school. I’m thankful that a tornado never caused destruction close to where I live, but I’d still like to see a “live one” out in a field. 
  • Come up with an original recipe. Check, check, check x 100.
  • Backpack across a foreign country. I feel better doing this in the future, knowing that Dan would go along with me. Although, I don’t know how I feel about hostels or other cheap sleeping options.
  • Have the “right thing” to say. I can be an awkward person… But I’ve (probably) gotten better. What does that tell you? 
  • Be able to tell a really good joke. Don’t know if I am the best judge of this — I think all my jokes are pretty funny.
  • Go dancing in the rain. We’ll see about this.
  • “Talk” with someone who speaks another language without the ability to translate. Just understand them on a human level. Obviously I was getting kind of desperate by this point. But, I still think it’s a cool concept.
Questions: What were your goals four or five years ago? How have they changed? What have you accomplished?