Finally Friday.

It's ok to be happy with a calm life.

Whoa there. Friday? Are you sure it’s Friday? I was pretty convinced that yesterday was Friday and that didn’t turn out, at all, the way I had hoped. Not at all. 

You can, then, understand why I’m a little less enthusiastic about “this” Friday. Turns out having two “Fridays” in a row makes it feel just the tiniest bit less special. Also, I was probably spoiled from the 3-day President’s Day weekend and subsequent 4-day work week last week. Back to a full five days feels like some sort of  joke!

Anyways. Enough about that.

This week had all kinds of good packed in. Here’s a glimpse, via list-form:

1.) Denver Restaurant Week — we tried Vesta Dipping Grill & Oceanaire, have you ever been to either?
2.) Nuggets Game — they lost to the Trailblazers… it was a fun game, but seems to be the story of the season.
3.) Crossift — I can’t fully straighten my left arm, but at least I finished (even if it was last).
4.) Bathroom Remodel — because we can’t go long without tearing something else up, we’re onto the bathrooms.

That about sums it up! This weekend, in addition to the hoping for warm weather, we’re watching my Mom’s golden retriever, Joe — he’ll be having a little doggie vacation at our house. On Friday we’re having dinner with family, then on Saturday we’re Crossfitting and painting numerous rooms around the house (re: basement & bathrooms). We, also, made an appointment with a Realtor for Sunday. Part of me thinks it’s time to move on (since I never loved this house to begin with) and another part of me feels like we finally got the house in beautiful shape… then we leave just to start it all over again. Tis life, yes?

What are you up to this weekend? How’s the weather in your part of the country?

Here are my finds from around the interwebs this week:

This is the favorite from the entire week — I’ve even pulled it up on my phone twice to show it to people (since I can’t stop blathering about it)… Did you ever watch the Thornberry’s growing up? Well I did. And, this story of a French little girl who grew up in Africa and befriended wild animals is pretty much the epitome of my childhood dreams come true. Trust me, after reading this you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. Side note: She’s standing on a crocodile — are you kidding me?

It’s no secret that I’m tall. Almost 6′ tall, in fact. These 34 things every tall girl can relate to was spot on — especially #:   . If you’re short — they have an even longer list for you too!

It’s, also, no secret that I love my dogs. Or fur-babies, if you will. That’s why this list of 15 signs that you’re an overly obsessed dog lover really hit it out of the park. I can firmly agree with #’s: .

Do you love Costco as much as I do? Pretzel bread (swoon), lemon cakes (drool), cases of bacon (shout for joy). Sometimes, when shopping, I do wonder if I’m actually saving any money buying in bulk (the addition of all the impulse buys — cough, cook book, cough, workout pants — probably don’t help). But, now, I have a great list on what “real food” items are actually cheaper at Costo. This means that I can purchase with confidence.

Life is messy. Sometimes that messy comes with four kids, a husband, rats and a house that’s falling down. Rebecca’s writing is so honest, eloquent and impossible to stop reading.

My Mom is my best friend — I rarely go a day without talking to her at least once (and sometimes it’s even more). So, in the spirit of sharing the Motherly love — here are 30 signs your mother is the best person in your life. I can agree to *almost* all of these. I sure do love that lady.

*Image Source: Melody Ross.

That Time I Tried Crossfit.

Mid-January, in the midst of my Whole 30 and the 2014 Coldmageddon, I decided that Christian and I needed a big SHAKE-UP to our workout routine. There was little appeal when it came to inserting yet another Jillian Michaels DVD into the player after work each night, and forcing myself to turn on the treadmill was all but impossible. Affording a personal trainer was out of the question, joining 24 Hour or Lifetime felt pointless since we have free rec centers (if only I’d use them) in Highlands Ranch. So, what’s a girl to do.

I’ll tell you what she did do. On a whim and the spurring of a Groupon deal, I bought both Christian and I a one-month membership (and Foundations classes) at a Crossfit box by our house. Over the years I’ve had friends, boyfriends of friends and blogs I follow get really into Crossfit, but the cost and intensity always dissuaded me from giving it a try. But, that day, there must have been something in the air because I hit “purchase” without a second thought.

Fast forward a few weeks… We were signed up for “Foundations” which consisted of 2 hours of training on Saturday and 1 hour of training on Sunday. The overarching feelings leading up to that training included: excitement, fear and sheer intimidation. For heaven’s sake, I can’t even do a girl-style push-up, how the hell was I going to do whatever they had in store for me.

You may not believe me when I say I can’t do a girl-style push-up… you may even think, “Come on, you can do at least one — you’re on your knees after all!”. But, alas, I cannot. Not a one. I’d post a video, but I don’t need that proof of shame following me around for all of internet eternity… only to surface years down the road. Nope, I do not need that.

Lone Tree Crossfit

We showed up at 11:00 and there were four other “newbies” ready (or at least pretending to be ready) to take on whatever they threw at us. Turns out, those first two hours can be summed up with one word.

SQUATS. 

Followed by MORE SQUATS. 

There were plain squats, squats with a PVC pipe, squats with a bar, squats with a bar + weights, different versions of squats with a bar… squats, squats, squats, squats. At least 1.5 hours of squats.

Now, I may fully admit to push-up shame, but I’m no wimp when it comes to squatting. You want my butt touching my ankles, no problem. You want me to crank out 100? Again, no problem. You want me to do them for 1.5 hours with weights… yes, there’s a problem. But, I muscled through each move all the while fighting the urge to sit on the floor and play with my shoe laces.

Lone Tree Cross Fit

After the squatting portion (the majority of class) was complete, we headed over the pull-up bars. [cue laughter]

We were taught proper form, what kipping looked like and how to complete knees to elbows and toes to bar… all things that had my inner “can’t do a push-up girl” just about peeing her pants from laughing at the prospect.

Then, it was go time. Being rather tall, I had to jump up to the highest bar and work on flailing my curvaceous frame around. With each swing, my legs flopped and based on the feedback of our coach I was at least, sort of, doing what I was supposed to be doing. Turns out, praise gives me a big head. I swung a little harder, pushed myself more… and … then… I fell off the push-up bar, twisted my ankle and found myself with some seriously scraped up knees.

Guess I have a little work to do.  Ahem.

That mostly sums up day one. Which leads us to Sunday — the second portion of our Foundations Class.

As Christian I drove to the box on Sunday morning, we discussed what we thought we’d be doing. “Surely it won’t be more squats, right? RIGHT?”

Lone Tree Cross Fit

Turns out we were wrong. (You had to see that coming, yes?) We worked on Olympic lifting, which, again, has some level of squatting for most moves. Sunday can then be summed up by eight words:

Squatting while lifting a bar over our heads. 

By Monday morning, I needed help getting out of bed and made a slew of attractive noises each time I had to get out of my chair at work. The handicap stall was my friend in the bathroom and it would be accurate to say that I walked with a waddle. There were places on my body that I didn’t even know could be sore — but they most surely were. My abs over my uterus hurt. My side-boob region hurt. The back of my armpits hurt. All these little areas in conjunction with my quads, hamstrings, shoulders… (you get the idea). If it’s a muscle, it hurt. Bad.

Christian and I aren’t quitters… so we signed ourselves up for classes over the next couple of weeks, which we completed, barely (burpees are my new arch nemesis). And, so, the verdict: Crossfit is perfect for what I need now. I need the motivation, the changing up of our workout routines and something to push me further than I’ll push myself… even if it means being yelled at to lift more, go faster and stop being a complete pansy.

Have you tried Crossfit? Would you try Crossfit?

Julep Maven Subscription Box.

Over the past year, I’ve become a bit of a subscription box addict. It all started with Birchbox, then Stitchfix and now the Julep Maven box.

Snail mail is my favorite kind and the anticipation of receiving a box full of surprise goodies each month is so hard for me to turn down. I hadn’t heard of Julep until recently when a couple of the fashion blogs I follow started mentioning it. Then, via creepy Google advertising (simultaneously great and stalkerish) their ads kept popping up several times per day and it turns out that I’m a marketers dream… because I took their online quiz and ended up as “Classic with a Twist”. I clicked through to see the other options and ended up ordering the originally suggested box.

Taking a sneak peek into other bloggers monthly boxes is something I love, so I thought I’d share mine.  After ordering, the box came a few days later… with good packaging I might add.

photo 2

This month, there were two nail polishes:

Myrtle

Zora

A cuticle serum and nail buffing blocks.

photo 3

photo 4

There was a free code: FREEBOX (feel free to try it and see if it’s still working), so I only had to pay the $3.99 in shipping (what’s the harm in that). I’ve painted my nails two different times with each of the colors and have loved the consistency and color of the polish. The only down-side I’ve come across is that the bottles tip easily since they’re designed to be so slender.

Also, I didn’t love the cuticle serum… but you win some you lose some.

If you’re curious, I’d say it’s absolutely worth the $3.99 to try it out and, honestly, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for February. To sign up for Julep (or to browse around their site, you can click here! 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine's Day!

When I think about Valentine’s Day, I think about sitting in my friend Jacqui’s bed during our sophomore year of college. The house she was living in hadn’t seen an insulation or window update in half a century and the only way to stay warm was to chat whilst under the covers. We sat there for hours — talking, eating puppy chow and becoming the very best of friends. It’s one of my favorite memories of our friendship.

Most of the time, Valentine’s Day is about the love your life, but this year I’m celebrating love in general. The love I have for Christian, the love I have for my family, the love I have for my friends, the love I have for chocolate, the love I have for wine… you get where this is going. There’s lots of love and I know that I’m incredibly lucky to have it.

I wish you the very happiest of Valentine’s Days! I hope it’s full of love in whatever capacity you need … and make sure you sneak in a little chocolate too!

 

Finally Friday.

If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.

Today is not only Friday (which is, of course, enough reason for celebration)… though I’m pretty sure after Denver’s big Superbowl loss last week the entire city has been in a state of overall depression. I’m not really into football, but even I can admit that was embarrassing.

This week has been a trial in finding my new “normal” with food now that the Whole 30 is over. I still have a post in the works about my thoughts on the program as well as another one on what I hope my food life will look like moving forward. They’re coming… at some point. Other than that we went to a Nuggets game on Wednesday night (they won!) and have enjoyed a pretty low-key week — though, we’ve had freezing cold temperatures (think -11 when you get up) making staying warm a big priority.

This weekend we’ve got a date night booked for tonight. I came up with 12 unique dates, wrote them down and put them all in envelopes, mixed them up and gave them to Christian at the beginning of the year (who says marriage is boring) and this is the first one (since food was so restrictive in January we decided to just do two in February). Saturday Christian and I are taking our first foundations class at our local Cross Fit gym (I’m so nervous!) and then Sunday we’ve got the second session before we can start taking normal classes. We’re also going to squeeze in a trip to visit my Dad and then take the rest of it as it comes.

What are you up to this weekend, anything exciting?

Here are my finds from around the inter webs:

If you’re looking for a fascinating read and wanting to develop a small desire to move to Detroit (I know, I can’t believe I said it either) then this article written by a guy who bought a house in Detroit for $500 will warm your heart and break it all at the same time.

I’ve always felt rather indifferent toward Bill Murray. He’s a good actor, but beyond that I never really gave him much thought. Until I found out that he might just be the most interesting man in the world. Also, think he’d want to be friends?

Food is an issue for me – gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, no carbs, paleo, Whole 30 etc. I believe strongly in the power that food holds over our health and as you probably know, the past couple of years have been a struggle to find what works and what doesn’t. At some point I’d like to be able to say “I gave up on healthy eating“, too.

I’m not much of a snoop. I’ve never had the desire to hunt down my Christmas presents (why ruin the surprise), but even I’ve been guilty of checking out emails that were left open on my computer… but sometimes, don’t you think, these things are better left unseen? What if your snooping ended like some of these scenarios?

All I have to say about this article on the fear of success is, “amen”. I’ve always felt like I had a pretty big fear of failure, but turns out I also have a fear of success. If I don’t bust down those barriers I’ll be stuck in mediocrity forever!

This happens to me all the time. I’ll receive a gift, like beautiful personal note cards, and I won’t want to use them for fear of wasting them… but life is short and those beautiful things are made for using rather than sitting at the bottom of a drawer

You’re a confidant to one of your friends, the life of the party at church, the overachiever to your parents… the many faces we wear and roles we play. However, it turns out (which we already knew) that we truly can’t be everything to everyone

Happy Friday — have a great weekend!

Currently.

I want to be better at having regular posts. I’ve gotten semi-good at my Finally Friday posts and I’ve followed through with posting my whole 30 meal plans so I thought I would challenge myself one step further and give a monthly update for each month of 2014. A currently update.

With that said, here’s a shot at what my life looks like, currently:

Currently

Currently Reading: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Have you heard her TED talks? If not, please pause and go get yo self caught up by clicking here and here. The premise of the book is learning to be more comfortable with vulnerability, denouncing shame and leading an authentic life. She’s amazing and I find myself underlining page after page after page — this is one of those books that you could read more than once and still not absorb all there is to learn. Also, I’ve thought (more than once), “how does she know me so well?” — that’s the makings of a great book.

Currently Listening: Nothing new on the music front this month, but  I have been listening to Body Double by Tess Gerritsen in the car. I downloaded (via the library) for my weekend drive to the mountains and still have several more hours to finish up. If you’re ever looking for a good mystery to listen to in the car… I can’t recommend Tess Gerritsen’s books enough.

Currently Indulgence: Since I’ve been rocking Whole 30, I don’t have a big indulgence to report. I have had a few glasses of wine (with friends) and I’ve also snuck a few glasses of fruit juice (oh the shame!) at night after dinner.

Current Nail Color: Some sort of grey — I got my nails painted last weekend in Vail and I’m doing my very best to keep them “nice” for as long as possible.

Current Drink: Mostly water and green tea with jasmine. Though, I’ve also added hot water with lemon to the repertoire!

Current Food: Salmon cakes with sautéed kale! I actually can’t wait to eat this — who am I?

Current Favorite TV Show: Oh man… how do I pick. Can I have a top 3? If so, they would be (in no particular order): Blacklist, White Collar and Grimm.

Current Wish List: A new pair of jeans that fit well and make my butt look like a million bucks – what, is that asking too much?

Current Needs: Probably some sleep. I got hit with the nasty cold of the season a couple of weeks ago and I still feel like I can’t get enough zzz’s. This nightowl starts fighting the need to collapse into bed around 7:30 — hmmm, maybe I should apply for my AARP card.

Current Thoughts: I can’t wait for President’s Day weekend — three-day weekend, here I come! Also, I need to get some vacations scheduled and planned… having trips to look forward to is high on my list of priorities.

Currently Anticipating: I have a doctor appointment on Monday to review how I’m doing with PCOS, my hormone levels and probably going on medication. There’s been a lot of thought, discussion and prayer (not to mention a crazy restrictive diet) regarding what my next steps will be so I’m anxious to talk it all through with my doctor.

Current Blessing: Feeling happy and thankful. PCOS has been a big-time roller coaster of hormonal swings while trying to get things balanced out over the past six months and after 3 weeks of feeling nothing short of grinch-like, I’m so glad to be feeling back to my old self. Hormones, you’re a real kick in the pants.

Current Bummer: The snow + cold. On days where you’ve got nothing to do but sit at home, in your sweats, and watch a movie — I really dig the snow + cold. On days where I have to get up at the butt crack of dawn to make it ANYWHERE on time due to said snow + cold, I do not dig it. Come on winter… make way for warmer days!

Current Outfit: Banana Republic Outlet jeans (similar here) + this top. All Banana Republic – my one true shopping love.

Whole 30: Week 4

It’s the last week, meaning we’re in a single digit countdown to the end of the Whole 30 Challenge.  I, almost, can’t believe it took this long while simultaneously wondering where the last 30 days went.

Looking at the Whole 30 Timeline, I would say that I’m pretty on track. I’ve had the worst cravings – so far – over the past 3-4 days (ramen noodles topping that list) and I’ve, also, wanted to give up on meal planning/eating because it all just sounds like too much work. I believe the exact line from the Whole 30 Timeline is:

In fact, if Iron Chef Bobby Flay were to walk into your kitchen right now and offer to cook you any Whole30 compliant meal you wanted, you’re not even sure you could think of one.

That about sums it up.

After a weekend in Vail with my friend Jacqui who eats a pretty Paleo compliant diet (and provided lots of inspiration) and the purchase of a new paleo cookbook — I’m armed and ready to take on some new recipes this week (which will hopefully spice up the repetitiveness of the past few weeks). Here’s what I have on tap:

Whole 30: Week 4 Meal Plan

I made a humongous pot of the broccoli, cauliflower and bacon stew that should last us through three meals each + snacks. Christian isn’t a huge fan, but based on the fact that he ate it, it’s got to better than cooking something else for himself. 🙂

Here’s to 4.5 more days of no corn chips.

Whole 30: Week 3.5 Meal Plan

Technically I’m on day 18 which is still week 3, not week 4. This does mean, however that I’m only 13 days from finishing this.

This week was really tough. I came down with Cold-Mageddon and I’m still not 100%. I was completely down for the count on Thursday/Friday/Saturday and today my big ambitious goal is to go to the grocery store to commandeer more cold medicine and some food for the week.

I cheated ever so slightly by drinking cup by cup of fruit juice with chipped ice (my throat hurt so bad and it was oh so good). I also had a small bowl of chicken soup that did have a few peas and corn kernels in it… it was delicious and at the time I was just thankful that I didn’t have to say “no” to noodles or cook the soup myself — if you know what I mean. Considering that I didn’t have any milk, sugar, gluten or weird oils… I’m going to go ahead an excuse myself. You know, sickness and all.

I’m hoping that things will go more back to normal this week, but last week’s chest cold feels like it’s moving more to my sinuses and I sound like a croaking toad. Ribbet.

Here’s what I have planned meal wise this week, you’ll notice that many are the same and that’s only due to the fact that we never had them last week since I was so sick.

Meal Plan  - Week 3.5
(Don’t judge my, again, horrible photo quality… uploading photos from my phone is about all I have energy for.)

We’re actually going to be having burgers with spiraled sweet potato cakes and brussel sprouts for dinner tonight… and I accidentally forgot (call it foggy sickness brain) to pick up a whole chicken, so hopefully I feel motivated enough to pick one up before Wednesday.

Then Friday night, all-day Saturday and then part of Sunday will hopefully be spent in Vail visiting my friend Jacqui — I was supposed to go a couple of weeks ago but due to weather and a friend coming to town from Philadelphia we decided to postpone. Let’s hope that the snow holds off enough for me to get up there this time.

Whole 30: Week 3 Update.

Dreaming of DOTS Candy

This is going to be a quickie, but I had to put it down so I’d remember it if I ever did the Whole 30 again.

Remember that timeline I posted on Sunday? The one that told me I’d have tighter fitting pants (good to know I’m not alone) and that I’d go through all these crazy emotions/feelings/cravings etc. Well, I only sort of bought into it. The day #’s weren’t the “exact” fit for my fat days and it all seemed a little vague. Take this paragraph excerpt from days 12 – 15:

You’re dreaming. Not crazy nightmare or strange surrealist dreams, either. Incredibly normal and realistic dreams – about donuts. Or Twinkies. Or Snickers.* In your mind, sometimes you get caught and feel guilty. Sometimes you just brazenly eat the contraband. But then, the feelings start following you into the waking hours. Suddenly, you’re craving things you don’t even like. (For me, it’s Diet Coke and Twinkies, for Melissa Hartwig, it was fast-food cheeseburgers!) Your co-workers’ heads transform into giant Girl Scout Cookies as you gaze on in disbelief. Seriously, you’ve almost hit the halfway mark, and now this?! 

I didn’t really think that was going to happen. I love food and may dream about it from time to time, but this just felt a little weird. How were these people going to tell me how to dream. A couple of days went by and nothing. No weird dreams about food (there were weird dreams about my Mom doing shots, but that’s another story entirely).

That is, until last night.

I dreamt that I found a box of DOTS in a bathroom drawer. And, I ate them one-by-one.After emptying the box I proceeded to feel guilty and anxious about what that meant for my Whole 30 timeline. Did I have to start over – could I add extra days at the end – did I derail the entire thing?

All this to say, they were right. I dreamt some pretty weird stuff in the midst of this 30 day journey. The funny thing is, if I were to go crazy and cheat it most certainly wouldn’t be on DOTS. Hand me a warm brownie sundae or a fresh from the oven homemade slice of pizza and we may have a bigger problem on our hands. But DOTS, not so much.

I’m on track — meaning I must be doing something right, right?

Did you have any weird dreams during your Whole 30 journey? What foods did you dream cheat with?

Whole 30: Week 3 Planning.

We’re onto week #3.

This past week was great on the food front, seriously delicious meals and snacks. Here’s a snapshot of some of my favorites this week:

Week #2 Meals!

 

This photo includes Zoodles (zucchini noodles), butternut squash soup, garlic chicken + brussel sprouts, salmon cakes + broccoli + sweet potatoes, almond crusted chicken fingers + sautéed kale + sweet potatoes. 

The big downside to this week was feeling like I’m gaining weight rather than losing it… I’m no stranger to strict diets, but this one (limiting my nightly square of chocolate) is probably the strictest. Normally I feel like I’m thinning up, but this week I just felt like I was packing on the pounds and wandering around like a bloated balloon.

I was pointed to this timeline that explains day 8-9 as “pants will fit tighter days” — so I guess I’m on track? Other than the weight blahs, I feel pretty good. Since I’ve been on a semi-strict diet the past few months, I don’t think I’m noticing the “WOW I FEEL AMAZING” high that a lot of other participants are probably starting to feel. Though, I do feel so much better than when I’m cheating like crazy (like I was, ahem, over the holidays).

With all that in mind, here’s what I’m planning for this week: Week 3 Meal Plan

 

Sorry for the crappy photo — I didn’t have my big camera nearby when I took it. Anyways, instead of snacking for lunch today, I decided to make this Sweet Potato Chili instead (I left out the hot sauce). It was delicious and now we have extra soup to fill in for snacks or extra meals as needed!

As far as I’m concerned, this meal plan is just as exciting as any other meal plan I’ve ever created and it should be a good week on the food front. Here’s to happy, healthy eating in week #3!