What’s your line?

So, I basically checked out this weekend.

Normally, I try to get a post or two in on the weekend, but it just didn’t happen this time around. And that’s fine.

Throughout a year and a half a blogging, I’ve realized that the most interesting posts come from interesting events in life or thoughts I’m really able to articulate. That doesn’t mean I’ll really leave you guys hanging. Besides, I think the posts that follow my temporary absences are more substantial.

But, in order for any of that to come to be, I have to get out there and engage in the world — if the blog is always begging for attention, that can’t really happen. As with everything, it’s more important to find a balance.

As a blogger, I also think it’s important to think about where my personal line is. For example, my computer was definitely staying behind during our honeymoon. I am not willing to miss out on once-in-a-lifetime moments so I can rush back to the Internet. There are also days when I don’t have anything worth talking about, and I’ve come to realize it’s better to just take a day off rather than force a post. In terms of topics I’ll address, I am comfortable talking about most things relating to my life, but I won’t talk about controversial topics that could upset, offend or harm any of my family or friends.

There are also certain posts that I ask Dan to look over before I publish. Because we share so much of life, I (try to) avoid saying things that will embarrass him. (Although there are a few good-natured exceptions!)

I digress…

One of the highlights of my weekend was getting to see Kristin, who is one of my best friends and a bridesmaid, compete in her conference cross-country meet.

She goes to school up in Nebraska, but her school is in the same conference as a small college in Lawrence. By chance, this year’s conference meet was here in town. That meant a rare chance to see her — and, oh man, was it a great race to watch!

In order to qualify for the national meet in Washington, she had to finish in the top five. In typical fashion, Kristin over-achieved and got second place and a new 5K PR (19:46 — blows my mind).

I was so proud of her!

Even better, her team ended up winning the women’s conference, so they all qualify for the national meet.

Other than watching the meet, my weekend was pretty low-key.

There was time for family, time for friends and time for pancakes. That’s about all a girl needs.

Now, it’s back to the grind for another full week of classes. I must admit that I’m extra excited for this particular week to end… This time next week, you’ll be reading a 21-year-old’s blog!

Questions: If you’re a blogger, what are your personal lines? If you’re not a blogger, what do you think is/is not appropriate for bloggers to write about?

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Channeling Martha Stewart

I made a wreath. That’s noteworthy, because I used to think they were elaborate decorations that only factories and/or Martha Stewart had the ability to craft.

Now I know that’s not true — and, if I can make a wreath, then anyone can make a wreath.

I started with three simple supplies: A straw circle (?), some yarn and a hot glue gun.

Scissors would help, too. Teeth would probably work in a pinch.

Then, I hot-glued one end of the yarn down and went to town on tightly winding the yarn around the wreath so there were no spaces between strands. This was a tedious process. I took me the whole episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians: Kim’s Fairy Tale Wedding show to finish it. In other words, it took me about the same length of time as Kim’s whole marriage.

Once the yarn was wrapped all the way around, I cut the strand and hot glued it down. Try to hot glue on the same side both times, so it can be the back of the wreath.

The whole thing was pretty monochromatic, so I sewed a few yo-yo rosettes, put a pin through them and covered the middle of each with a button, which I hot-glued down.

Much better!

Best of all, the rosettes are only pinned into the wreath, so I can replace them with seasonal decorations at other times of the year.

In other news, both Dan and I caved today and he gave me my birthday present. Eleven days early, smell-seven-shay-Shirley.

This is my “I’m eager to open this present” face, apparently.

At first, we made basic excuses like, “There’s no place to hide it” and “I actually deserve presents every day.”

But, it was no use and the gift was gifted. Ta-da!

A new iPod dock/stereo!

It’s honestly perfect, because it is a gift that both of us can enjoy. I’m selfless like that.

Friday Fragments

Last week, I came upon an article in the Washington Post by Jennifer LaRue Huget (who is one of my favorite health writers), about how a little bit of sugar is not incredibly dangerous.

I thought the article was particularly well done, because she broke down some of the science behind sugars and also explained why tracking dietary sugars can be a challenge. The gist of it is this: Our bodies need sugar, but the majority of it should come from natural sources, such as fruit. Only 5 percent of our daily calories should come from added sugars, such as table sugar, honey or high fructose corn syrup.

It can be difficult to differentiate between the types of sugars, however, because the FDA does not require them to be listed separately on labels.

That being said, Stephanie Dunbar, the director of clinical affairs for the American Diabetic Association, says that although sugar isn’t a health food, a little bit isn’t going to hurt anyone. Rather, as with most foods, it takes an excessive amount to do damage.

What do you think?


Baked Apple Fritters

I love apples, especially this time of the year. (Although I’m never going to name a child after them. That honor has already been promised to my true love, “Chocolate.”)

For that reason, I basically flipped when I saw a whole section in Health Magazine dedicated to “Amazing Apples.” The most delicious-sounding recipe among ’em was for baked apple fritters.

The recipe was really quite easy and the ingredient list was really simple. Yet, I decided to do it one better by veganizing and simplifying the directions… and with great results.

Baked Apple Fritters

(Adapted from Health Magazine.)

Ingredients:

— Dough

  • 2 t active dry yeast
  • 1/2 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or any milk)
  • 2 1/3 C whole-wheat pastry flour, divided
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 T buttery spread, melted
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T milled flax-seed + 3 T water (alternatively, one egg)

— Filling

  • 2 T buttery spread
  • 1 large apple, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 t apple pie spice
  • 1 T cornstarch

Directions:

  • To make dough: Heat milk for ~30 seconds in a microwave. Pour into a large bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Let stand for 5 minutes or until foamy. In the meantime, combine milled flax-seed and water in a small bowl. Let that stand for at least 3 minutes.
  • Add 1 1/3 C flour, sugar, honey, melted buttery spread, salt and flax mixture to the yeast mixture. Stir until smooth. Add in an additional 1 C flour. Stir until a soft dough forms.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (~10 minutes) or transfer to an electric mixer with a dough hook and mix 10 minutes on medium speed.
  • Spray the sides of the mixing bowl with cooking spray. Place dough ball back in the bowl and turn it around a few times to cover with the cooking spray. Cover and let the dough rise for ~1 1/2 hours in a warm place (ideally 85 degrees). To see if dough has risen enough, press two fingers into the dough. If the indentation remains, dough is good to go.
  • To make filling: Place chopped apples in a microwaveable-safe bowl. Toss with apple pie spice. Add in buttery spread. Cover the bowl and cook for 3-4 minutes, until apples are tender. Stir in cornstarch and set mixture aside to cool completely.
  • To assemble: Divide dough into 12 equal portions. On a floured surface, roll each section into 1 3-inch circle. Divide filling among the rounds. Gather dough around the filling and pinch at the seam to seal. Place each fritter, seam side down, in a cup of a greased or non-stick muffin pan. Cover the muffin pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 40 more minutes.
  • Uncover dough and bake in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow fritters to cool for 2 minutes in the pan, then remove each fritter and allow to cool on a wire rack.

So good! I may love apples a little bit more after this recipe… But I still draw the line at naming one of my children after them.

Questions: What’s the strangest non-celebrity baby name you’ve heard?


Worth Talking About Wednesday, 11/2

It had to happen sooner or later: The 70-degree temperatures and clear skies have given way to hard freezes and slush.

I’ll be the first to admit that the coming season is not my favorite of the year, but there are still a few things to look forward to!

November

I don’t know where the song came from, because in my book, November is the most wonderful time of the year. First, my birthday happens to be in less than two weeks. Then, Thanksgiving rolls around and I get to spend time with family, minus the stress that usually accompanies Christmas.

Fall Fashion

A little late to the punch, I know. But, I finally get to dress for fall! That means tights, sweaters and scarves. I would say boots, but I wear those all through the year.

Tracker’s Popularity

It would be a sad day when my dog get’s mail and I don’tif it wasn’t for the fact that the card was so cute.

It was a special treat from Chauncy, Dan’s parents’ dog.

Along with it, Tracker also got a new light-up clip for her collar so that we can run with her at night.

Brownies from Oh She Glows

These brownies are insane. Trust me. Dan and I went through a whole batch last week. Plus, with simple, wholesome ingredients they are all-around winners. (Note: I went with the vegan variety.)

Another winner from Oh She Glows!

American Horror Story

On one of our lazy nights last week, Dan and I caught an episode of American Horror Story on FX. I was immediately hooked! The weird thing is that I’m not usually a big horror fan. With this show, there is a perfect balance of intrigue and chills. Plus, they actually solve small mysteries each episode unlike some other shows. (Cough, LOST, cough.)

Can’t wait to see where it goes!

What do you think is worth talking about this week?


The value of marriage

I’ve been sitting on a certain post for a while and it seems as timely as ever after yesterday’s devastating and shocking news that Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries are ending their 72-day publicity stunt marriage.

(In all honestly, I was kind of repulsed by the news. That sounds dramatic, especially for someone who doesn’t know the details. But the first impression I get is not a good one — All I see is that they earned $14 million dollars from televising their wedding and then called it quits after the money was safe in the bank. But, this is besides the point…)

The Value of Marriage

I’m newlywed and admittedly still in the honeymoon phase. Yet, Dan and I took a lot of time for reflection before our wedding and I think that has helped the transition go so smoothly. Although we don’t have years of experience under our belts, I believe our intentions were right to begin with and that has put us on the right track.

So, this is my modest take on the importance of marriage…

It is hard to know where to start on the long list of benefits that are connected to marriage. To state a few, married people earn more, a physically healthier and experience significantly less domestic violence and infidelity than unwed individuals in relationships, according to a study by the Witherspoon Institute.

But, who really goes into marriage thinking, “Wow, this is great! I’m going to have more money and live longer!”

Instead, many of us hopeless romantics hope for a deep, loving marriage. I thought it was well put in a recent column from the Harvard Crimson

“Marriage is not merely a union of hearts and minds, nor is it only a romantic or sexual partnership. It is a comprehensive union that unites a husband and wife across all dimensions of the person.”

The question is: How does one get to that place?

To start, the two people in a marriage have to be right for each other… Not right for each others’ ideals, images or friends. Right for each other. There should be passion, humor, depth and joy. If it isn’t there in the beginning, chances are it won’t be there 10 years down the road. There should also be a good foundation of trust, support and all-around teamwork. This revelation came to be one day when I realized that my happiness is linked to Dan’s —I’m only happy if he is.

The relationship should also grow. Although the beginning of relationships are always fun, it’s only when those relationships have depth that they become meaningful. This is something that Dan and I try to build on every day, whether get caught up in a conversation about a new subject or tackle a new adventure together.

As for us, those adventures are just starting and we will undoubtedly have a lot to learn. But, with Dan by my side, I’m excited to take give it my all — or, in the words of Katherine Hepburn…

“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get. Only with what you are expecting to give, which is everything.”

That’s what marriage should be founded on, not a multimillion dollar TV contract.

Questions: What do you think? What do you think marriage should be built on?


Real motivation

On one of my pinning rampages a few weeks back, I saw a photo of a skinny, bikini-clad girl with text saying “Are you sure you want that cookie?” The image stood out to me not because I thought it was inspiring or motivating. Rather, I was struck by how truly wrong I thought it was…

For a while, I was stumped on how to tie the picture into a post, effectively explaining why it was so depressing to me. Then, last weekend, one of my friends and I were talking about our mutual love of Pinterest. We were basically raving about how much time we could waste on the site and how fun it is to look through. But, then she mentioned how she once typed the word “motivation” into the search bar and was appalled by all the pictures of skinny women with some negative mantras that came up. I thought that was an interesting comment, because it was the exact same search that lead me to the picture I had pulled.

Once again, it got me thinking and I realized something:  There is no redeeming value in an image like that. That is because, it’s just part of the greater picture…

The girl in that picture is a mystery. She has a flat stomach in a picture, but that’s about all we know about her. What we don’t know is whether she is fulfilled by relationships with the people in her life, whether she is inspired by the work she does, whether she is happy.

So, just looking at a skinny body is no motivation to me. Instead, I aim for greater inspiration.

Maybe this is because I know there is so much more to life that having a flat stomach. Maybe this is because I know that happiness beats skinniness any day of the week. Maybe this is because I think it’s time to stop beating ourselves up about our bodies.

And, I might be a dreamer, but I hope that you can feel the same way.

This isn’t to say it’s wrong to find specific things to get motivated by — such as a positive mantra about working out. It’s just important to know that it is a piece of a puzzle.

More than anything else, my message is this: Stop comparing, stop judging and definitely stop criticizing yourself. Instead, start looking inside and get inspired by your own strength.

That, my friends, is where real motivation comes from.

Questions: What do you think? How are you inspired?


WOW Run 5K

You know you’re a little crazy when you describe “waking up to run a race” as one of the best feelings…

I actually forgot how invigorating morning races are. It wasn’t until today that I realized I haven’t run a morning race since the Lincoln Half-Marathon last May. Since then, I’ve done the evening Rock the Crossroads and Wyandotte County Trail Races as well as the United Way Trail Race, which kicked off at noon.

But, today, it was good to know that I had a whole 5K under my belt before 9 a.m thanks to the WOW Run 5K.

I was up at 7 for a breakfast of toast with peanut butter and a banana plus a few gulps sips of coffee. Dan was still sleeping, so I relied on the self-timer to prove I was actually planning on running.

Always so awkward.

My favorite part about the race was that the start was just on the other side of my neighborhood. I didn’t leave until 7:40 for an 8 o’clock start and I still made it there with time to spare. I even got to talk to Natalie for a while before the race!

Even though everything was set up to be a good race, I have to admit that I probably didn’t have the best mentality. I hoped for a PR, but I knew it was hilly and told myself I could use that as a cop-out. Lame, I know.

When the race kicked off, I got out to a good start. It also helped that I was pretty familiar with the course — it just wound through my neighborhood, so I knew what to expect around each corner. However, that also meant I knew when the big hills were and I psyched myself out a little bit. There weren’t any mile markers, either, so I wasn’t able to calculate my pace. All I know is that it fluctuated quite a bit.

When I was nearing the finish, I was able to kick it into high gear, but it still wasn’t enough to walk away with a PR.

Nonetheless, I was still pretty happy.

Best of all, it’s not even noon and I get to spend the rest of the day with this little girl.


Happy weekend!

Questions: How do you turn excuses around and get motivated? What’s your favorite time to race?