Monthly Archives: May 2011

Extended family

Although I’m sure it is never easy to combine two separate groups of people, it has always been important to Dan and me that we feel comfortable with each others families. Much of that is because he and I are both very close to our families — neither of us ever lived close to extended family, so everyone in our immediate families came to rely on each other.

For that same reason, as my relationship with Dan grew more serious, I realized that a potential marriage would be about more than me + him. It would be about bringing together our two families.

Fortunately, this has been pretty simple. I love and respect his parents and sister, while Dan is just as good toward mine.

From my perspective, it is easy to adore Dan’s family. His parents are incredibly kind, welcoming and genuine. His sister, who is less than two years younger than me, is super sweet, funny and caring. The time that I’ve already had them in my life has been blessed and I can’t help but look forward to many more years of getting to know them.

One thing that pleases me the most is that Dan’s family and my family really get along. In fact, when his mom and sister came up from my bridal shower last week, our dads went out on the town!

Our sisters, who are just one year apart in school, also became fast friends.

Dan’s mom and sister were even sweet enough to throw me my own bridal shower in Kansas!

It’s also nice to have family nearby where Dan and I live. That means we get to go home for “weekend holidays,” such as Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. It also means we can spend birthdays together — complete with delicious cake.

Claire’s 19th birthday was on Saturday, but Dan had to work. So, we went over to the house on Sunday for a delayed birthday dinner with the family. It worked out for the best, because the rain cleared up for the first time in days and we ended up spending five hours around the campfire!

In just more than one month, I will change my name and have a technical mother-, father- and sister-in-law. The good news is, they seem more like real family than just something mandated by law.

Questions: If you’re married, do you have brothers- or sisters-in-law? If you’re not married, how important is it to you that your future spouse gets along with your family?


What’s in the bag?

For some reason, it’s endlessly baffling to Dan why I need to carry around a large purse.

On the other hand, I don’t understand how he can get by without one! I mean, where else does he store his…

Lip balm?

I know that Dan likes the vanilla flavor, so I think he’s ok with me toting this around.

Pens and paper?

A reporter — even an aspiring one — need to be prepared to jot down a story at any time!

Phone?

I can’t wear skinny jeans and still fit this phone in my pocket!

Pocket knife?

Dan actually gave this to me when we went camping and I’ve kept it in my purse ever since then — I just need to remember to take it out before I go to the airport next!

Massive Vera Bradley collection?

I love this wallet, because I can carry it around as a wristlet or tuck it in my bag when I have more to carry. Plus, it helps me keep track of my keys!

I actually use this little change purse to carry around spare bobby-pins and hair ties. Never know when some stray hair will break out-of-place!

I got this camera case four years ago and I just can’t live without it. Just as with my wallet, I love that I can carry this around as a wristlet.

Yet another wristlet, but this one contains my iPod and packets of gum. I like subdividing everything so that it’s easier to find and easier to move from one bag to another.

Snacks and water?

I usually carry a few granola bars around, but these packets of peanut butter have been hanging out in my purse since last week when I bought them on sale.

I also carry around my water bottle at all time. Dan really makes fun of me for this one — he even calls it my “sippy cup.” What can I say, though? I just like staying hydrated!

Basically, Dan, the ultimatum is this: I’ll get ride of the big purse if you never want to see me in short skirts or skinny jeans again. Deal or no deal?

Questions: What’s in your purse? Do you carry a big bag?


That detox thing…

Do you remember that pseudo-detox thing that I was trying? I know I haven’t mentioned it lately, but I’ve been keeping it up and it’s really been paying off. Best of all, the process has really helped me get more in tune with how my body responds to certain foods.

The morning after frozen yogurt and cupcakes? Blah.

The morning after a day of wholesome eating? Hit me with your best shot, because I’m ready to take on the world!

Not only does my pseudo-detox help me feel more energized, but it also makes my body just feel better. My muscles feel rejuvenated, my head feels clear and my digestive system even feels — uhm — more natural.

Today was actually a pretty typical detox day for me, so I figured it would be a good time to do a play-by-play.

Breakfast

I planned breakfast ahead by mixing up one container of Chobani’s blueberry Greek yogurt with 1/4 C oats and a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk to thin it all out. In the morning, I topped it with a spoonful of peanut butter.

One thing I like about Chobani is that it isn’t nearly as sugar-loaded as many yogurts on the market. That means that I get to feel strong from all the protein without crashing from all the sugar!

Running on 20-some grams of protein, I headed over to Hobby Lobby after breakfast to tackle a few wedding-related crafts. I wandered around lost for a while, just trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Eventually, I made a few decisions and checked out.

On the way home, I saw a lone shoe in the road.

Apparently I’m not the only one who loses shoes in the middle of the street!

Lunch

I spent some time crafting after I got home, but then I broke for a two-part lunch.

The main dish was a green monster smoothie with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, one banana, one scoop of chocolate protein powder and a handful of baby spinach. I topped it all with a little Kashi Go Lean cereal — I’ve got to have my crunch!

On the side was a slice of Great Harvest roasted red pepper, spinach and Swiss bread with an extra thin slice of Swiss cheese melted on top.

Then it was back to crafting!

One of my big decisions for the day was what to do for table markers. Dan and I are assigning people to tables (but not specific seats), so I needed to come up with a way to identify the tables. We decided to spin-off a little travel theme by naming each table after a town that it important to one or both of us. For example…

After way too much stamping, I took a break to go for a run. I was delaying as long as possible, because it was a rainy, dreary day. However, it didn’t look like the sun would really be coming out — I figured my best chance to go was when the rain at least stopped!

I just did a basic out-and-back three-mile run across campus with a negative split.

Although the real detox guidelines recommend taking a break from intense physical activity, that’s one rule I’m glad to disregard. Working out is my way to release stress, so no matter how beneficial a detox is, it won’t do any good if it just makes me grumpy!

Because I was pretty productive in the morning, I gave myself a break in the afternoon by watching way too many episodes of Millionaire Matchmaker.

Dinner

For dinner, I made my favorite detox-friendly meal. Seriously, I’m obsessed with this salad combination: baby spinach, one extra thin slice of Swiss, steamed edamame, quinoa, homemade Great Harvest croutons and an orange. I dressed it all with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and peppa!

The star of the show was the juicy, delicious orange.

Who needs a bunch of artificial sugar when nature can be so sweet?

Now, I’m lying low for a while before Dan comes by. He had to go out of the state to take care of some business, so he is being kind enough to pick me up on his way back through town so that I can stay the night at his family’s house.

Question: Dan’s business actually took him up to Wisconsin for the first time in his life. With that as inspiration for the question, how many states have you been to?

I’m not sure how many states I’ve been to, but I think it’s somewhere in the thirties. I’ve lived in four states, though!

Note: Happy birthday to Claire, my soon-to-be sister-in-law!


Busy girl’s guide to eating well

I wouldn’t exactly say that I am “lazy” — but there sure are times when I like to minimize my exertion. That is especially true when I am anticipating a busy day, in the middle of a busy day or at the end of a busy day.

Although I deal with that throughout the school year, it is definitely true this summer when I will have regular 10-hour days.

Rather than adding additional stress to my days by worrying about my meals, I’m trying to strategize and plan ahead for healthy, satisfying breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Here’s what I’ve been doing so far…

Breakfasts

There’s no denying that I am a breakfast fan — I’d even say it’s my favorite meal of the day if it wasn’t for dessert.

But, with busy days, it’s more necessary than ever to eat filling, nutritious meals to start off the day. My go-to option should be no surprise…

Consumed: 1/3 C oats cooked with 2/3 C water. Topped with a drizzle of maple syrup, peanut butter and dried berries.

Not only is oatmeal delicious, but it truly is a good example of a nutritious meal. The whole-grains of the oats offers 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein per serving — add on a tablespoon of peanut butter and that’s 9 grams of protein!

Even better, oatmeal is a blank slate. I like topping it with dried berries, fresh fruit, cottage cheese and a little sweetness.

Lunches

Because I’m interning an hour’s drive away, I don’t have the convenience of going home.

Because I’m on a cheap college student’s budget, I don’t have the luxury of eating out.

Basically, that means I’m brown bagging it.

My saving grace is that I have access to a refrigerator. That allows me to pack salads in the morning with big servings of fresh vegetables, beans or tofu for protein and some brown rice or quinoa for extra energy. I also like rounding it out with some fresh fruit.

However, when there isn’t a refrigerator, that doesn’t mean I can get by without lunch. In those cases, I pack easy, portable foods like…

Although I like the convenience of these snacks, I really love the nutritional punch that they still pack.

I also carry along a container filled with a homemade trail-mix of almonds, dried berries and Kashi Go Lean cereal.

Dinner

I get home from my internship after 6 o’clock, which means that I don’t want to spend a ton of time fussing with a fancy dinner. I also don’t want to forfeit nutrition.

Even more than with the other meals, the key with dinner is just planning ahead — have nutritious ingredients around the house to quickly throw together as a complete meal.

In today’s case, I spent my whole drive home dreaming up a simple egg dinner.

Consumed: Baby carrots, two eggs whites + one whole egg, one thin slice of Swiss cheese, two slices of Great Harvest roasted red pepper, swiss and spinach bread.

The meal itself wasn’t complex, but that was alright because it gave all the flavors a chance to stand out. I mean, a little cheese goes a l-o-n-g way…

Especially when it is baked INSIDE the bread.

That’s that. Nothing crazy and nothing complex. Just a few meals that really do the trick in fueling me through a long day!

Oh, and a little dessert at the end of the day is an absolute must to maintain sanity. I’m just sayin’.

Questions: What are your favorite “busy day” meals? Do you usually eat lunch at home, on-the-go or at a restaurant?


Gaining confidence

Even though I’ve been running for as long as I can remember, the sport of gymnastics was actually my first love.

It all began when I sat feet from the television, glued to coverage of the 1996 Olympic gymnastics competition. Immediately after the crowing of the bronze, silver and gold, I began begging my mom to enroll me in local gymnastic classes. I was determined to become a star gymnast — I even wished for it on every penny or shooting star.

However, that determination only got me so far. That’s because, there was one, more important thing that held me back from being successful: I didn’t have the confidence.

I was too scared in my abilities to perform the flips. I was too worried about how my stunts would score. I was too nervous about not being promoted to the next level of competition.

Eventually, that lack of self-confidence got the best of me and I gave up my gymnastics dreams.

What is saddest to me, as I look back on that decision, isn’t that I never got to win my Olympic gold in gymnastics. Rather, it just strikes me as sad that I didn’t have self-confidence even as a young girl.

The funny thing is that, to most people who knew me as a kid, this story may not make sense — I appeared to be an active, outgoing and confident little girl…

Yet, somewhere inside me, the seeds of self-doubt were already growing — and, unfortunately, it got worse before it got better.

Throughout middle school, it seemed normal to compare myself with other girls. I remember sitting in classes envying one girl’s hair, another girl’s makeup and another girl’s life. In contrast, I just didn’t seem good enough.

During high school, my self-confidence continued to decline, even though I was commended for my academics and athletics. There was always someone better.

As cliché as it is, it wasn’t until I hit rock bottom in terms of my self-confidence that I finally began to turn around. It was my sophomore year of college and I was super skinny, academically successful and overwhelmingly sad.

At that point, I realized that I could no longer depend on friends, sports or academics to boost my confidence. The only way that I can feel confident about myself is to feel comfortable with myself.

The point is that, I’ve learned that self-confidence doesn’t come easy — at least to me. But, rather than continuing to slip down a road of self-deprecation, I do have the ability to reverse my internal dialogue.

I still have that occasional inner voice that says, “You aren’t that fill-in-the-blank…”

Except, now, I counter that voice by saying, “You are YOU and that is all that matters.”

So, I may be 20, but it’s better late than never when it comes to self-confidence — although I’m not holding my breat about making it to the Olympics.

Question: How do you turn around critical thoughts about yourself?


I can’t complain

Today was the first day of my summer internship at a large news organization in Kansas City. I’ve had an internship before, but this is definitely my biggest market, so I hoped to make a good impression.

And, you don’t get a second chance at a first impression.

For that reason, I planned out my outfit well in advance, got a good amount of sleep, built in enough time to my morning so that I could have breakfast and even made sure I had printed directions.

Everything was going well all the way through my breakfast of oatmeal with peanut butter and dried berries.

Then, as I would say, “shoot” hit the fan.

First, as I pulled onto the main street near my house, I noticed something fly off the back of my car. I looked in the review mirror only to see one of my North Face sandals bouncing down the road. I realized that I must have left on my car’s trunk last night. Carefully, I slowed down and prepared to turn around as soon as I could. Somewhere before that point, the second sandal flew off the back of my trunk.

Eventually, I was able to pull off the road and park. Then, business-clothes clad and barefoot, I ran up the side of the road, hoping I could salvage the sandals. No such luck.

After a few minutes of searching, I decided it was a lost cause. I would be better off keeping on schedule and getting to the internship on time. So, I trucked on… Only to miss my exit, get turned around and have to stop at a gas station to ask for directions. In a frenzy, I arrived at the place of my internship right before the morning meeting.

Crisis averted. Temporarily.

I even called my mom to complain. She reassured me by saying, “At least it won’t get any worse…”

The rest of the morning went pretty smoothly as I got acquainted with the place I will be working. Shortly after eating my packed lunch of a bar and orange (<< I didn’t have any food in my fridge!), I stood up to go to the restroom.

There, as I walked past the full-length mirror, I realized something was wrong: The slit on my brand new Banana Republic skirt was cut a little lot too high.

“Oh yeah,” I thought. “That’s what color underwear I am wearing…”

Fortunately, one of the higher-ups from my workplace walked in. I tried to play lighthearted as I told her about my little “situation.” She handed me a few safety pins and volunteered to look for someone with a needle and thread.

A few minutes later, a woman returned with a spool of black thread, scissors and a needle. It was basically a blessing.

I spent the next ten minutes, crouched in a bathroom stall, mending my skirt. It wasn’t perfect, but it did the job and my skirt held up the for rest of the day. (Even though I made double sure by checking it every time I stood up!)

I am very happy to say that the rest of the day went much more smoothly. But, you know what? Even if my skirt had torn totally off and all the shoes in my closet were lost on the side of the road, I still couldn’t complain.

That’s because, I spent my whole day at the news organization hearing accounts of the tragedy in nearby Joplin, Missouri.

[source]

With the death toll greater than 120 and sure to rise, I can’t complain. My friends and family members are safe.

With one-quarter of the town’s buildings obliterated, I can’t complain. My home is safe.

With an extreme shortage of fresh water and food, I can’t complain. My grocery store is full.

So, even though a pair of shoes were blown away and I made an all-too-intimate first impression, I can’t complain. My life is good.

If you are interested in donating to recovery efforts for the Joplin Tornado, check out the Red Cross’ website. The organization is currently encouraging donations of money and non-perishable items. However, if you are interested in donating blood, the Red Cross spokesperson suggests waiting a few days. The need for blood is steady, but the supplies are perishable.


Jungle Kitty

I’ve decided that if I could work at only one place for my whole life with guaranteed success, it would definitely be Great Harvest. I just cannot get enough of the place.

That is why, when Dan and I had to decide on one place to eat in Lincoln before heading back to Kansas, the choice was obvious.

That, my friends, would be half of a veggie sandwich on the world-famous honey whole wheat bread. One of the other things I love about being home is that I know my mom will always be willing to split a meal with me.

I rounded out my own lunch with an in-cred-ible caramel apple smoothie.

I was honestly skeptical about whether it could live up to true caramel apple flavor — and it so did. It got the apple tartness and the caramel sweetness spot on.

After finishing up the meal with my mom and Dan, I bought a loaf of spinach and roasted red pepper bread and a coffee. Then it was time to hit the road back to Kansas. I must admit that I wasn’t just too excited to get back to Kansas. I never feel as though I get enough time with my family and this past week was no exception. However, I am starting a new internship tomorrow in Kansas City, so duty called…

Dan’s trip to Lincoln was especially brief, but very important: He helped haul back a couch for the apartment that we’ll be moving into soon!

While Dan and my dad loaded the couch into the truck, I got a little distracted…

What can I say? I don’t get to see my cat that often!

Fortunately, the couch stayed in place for the drive back to Kansas. And, to my credit, I helped Dan with getting the couch into our storage space!

With all the moving done, Dan and I were able to go to his parents’ house for a taco dinner — black beans for me, beef for everyone else!

Afterward, the night was still so perfect, that Dan, his dad and I decided to head out to the track for a little workout. Dan and I ran a mile, walked a lap and then ran another mile. Nothing crazy, but it was an ideal way for me to spend a summer night — I can get used to this!

Now, it’s time for bed, so that I can rise and really shine for my internship tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Questions: Did you do internships before graduating? What’s your ideal way to spend a summer night?

I had an internship before my sophomore year of college in Lincoln. This one should just give me so more experience, which is always a good thing!

I love spending summer nights outside, around a campfire with good friends!