Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Week Later

Today marks one full week of no sweets and desserts as part of my observance of Lent. In addition to giving up sweets, I've decided to take on the act of showing Clint more patience and understanding. Being the very Type A person that I am, I'm pretty particular about the cleanliness and tidiness of our home. While Clint is not really a messy person, he's much more laid back about "a cup here or an unmade bed there." I know that he loves me and wants to make me happy, so I need to be more merciful in my criticism of his housekeeping skills. I feel like my critical attitude is actually something that sometimes separates me from truly reflecting the grace and love of God. When I stop and think about the patience God has with me and the mercy he shows me on a daily basis, I can't help but realize I need to behave in the same manner with those people in my life that I love the most.

As far as the no sweets go, I'm actually doing much better than I thought I would. Only at night do I find myself tempted to gab a cookie from the pantry or a popsicle from the freezer. As if all of the Easter candy wasn't temptation enough, a new frozen yogurt place is opening downtown Shelby within walking distance from my work. I will pass this place at least 2-3 times a day and will run by it at least once a about willpower! Oh'll be there in 6 weeks and by then, maybe the crowd will have died down. Words of consolation, I tell ya.

I am loving my Lent has been a great reflective tool for me. Last night's verse was Psalm 130: 5-6.

I pray to God—my life a prayer—
and wait for what he’ll say and do.
My life’s on the line before God, my Lord,
waiting and watching till morning,
waiting and watching till morning.

This was just so perfect because just as the people of Israel waited and watched for God to move
on their behalf, I too, am waiting and watching for God's answer to my prayers. As I talked about
a few weeks ago, there are possible big things ahead for us and I am anxious to say the least about
these things are going to play out. However, I am reminded that God knows this situation and
already has it worked out for our good. I know that God doesn't want me to worry....worry is
saying that my faith is weak and that I don't have real hope in His plans. So, although I may have
to tell myself daily, I know that everything is really going to be fact, it'll be better than
alright because it's set forth by God.

Everyone's Lent is different, but mine is asking me to love better, be more intentional in my
choices with food and with people, and most of all, this Lent is asking me to trust God. It's
true...when you look for God, you find Him. He's with us all of the time. We need only to open
our eyes and hearts to see Him.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Five on Friday

Friday is here and it's time to join April, Christina, and many others for Five on Friday.

ONE - I have gotten back on a juicing kick the past 2 weeks. I'm only drinking my juice in the mornings, and I'm getting up a little earlier so that I can make it and drink it immediately. I recently learned that although you can make a large batch of juice, it's the most nutritional for you as soon as its made. Also, I'm cutting back on the amount of fruit in my juice to cut down on sugar, and I actually really like it. My favorite recipe thus far is: 1 whole beet (stalk and leaves included), 3 carrots, 1 apple, a chunk of fresh ginger about the size of a half dollar, and the juice of 1 lemon ( I add it after I juice the other foods). This makes enough juice for both Clint and me. In case you're wondering, I use the Breville Compact Juice Fountain and really love it...easy to use and easy to clean!

TWO - Speaking of sugar, I'm 3 days in to my no-sweets for Lent, and I'm actually doing okay. I looked longingly at a piece of dark chocolate yesterday after lunch, but walked away and the urge left me pretty quickly. I heard from a co-worker that you can have whatever you're giving up on Sundays. Is that true?? I'm not sure I want to do that anyway though. I feel like it's cheating. Also, I'm really loving my Lent journal. The journal is undated and they're still available here if you're interested in one for yourself. 

THREE - Have you seen this study by Mizuno?!? It's called "What if Everybody Ran." The statistics will blow your mind. It goes through 10-15 different statistics, but the 3 below really blew me away. I know running isn't for everyone, but even a walk or bike ride can have the same benefits. I come from an active family...even if active means doing a lot of yard work, gardening, golf, and home projects...I firmly believe my the activity level of my family members is the reason that they have lived long AND healthy lifespans

* We'd save $51B in healthcare costs
* 20% stronger memory
* 7B more hours would be spent outside

FOUR - Even with the cold temperatures that keep lingering around NC, I'm dreaming of summer! We already have a beach house booked for week and I have several other fun trips planned for a bachelorette trip and to see friends in warm, sandy locations. With that in mind, the perfect swimsuit search had begun! Here are two I'm really loving.

classic black is always a must-have for me

love the hot pink and the bottoms are awesome

FIVE - This week could not end soon enough because I'm leaving after work today for Charleston to see one of my best, best friends. McCall and I have been friends since Kindergarten, and she now has a precious 2-month old little girl named Bobbi. Due to both of our busy, busy lives, I haven't been able to go see her, but that all ends today! Making this trip even more special, McCall and her husband Ben asked Clint and me to be Bobbi's godparents. I cannot even express how honored we are to be chosen for this task. 3:00pm cannot get here fast enough today so I can hug my amazing friend and her sweet miracle baby girl!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

the next 40 days

Today is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. It is also my first time ever observing Lent. Because I have been raised in the Baptist faith, Lent is not something my family members or church has ever encouraged. However, I've been studying some scripture and thoughts on Lent, and have decided it is something I would like to take part in. 

The following quotes capture for me what I believe to be the essence or spirit of the Lenten season. Of course, I'm no expert on Lent or theology for that matter...this is my first year after all. These are just some verses and thoughts that prompted my participation in this season.

"We are at that time of the year when we are invited to test our inner freedom and to question the notion: I can take itor leave it Lent is about regaining self-control, especially in those areas that damage others. We don't admire those whose appetites or habits lead them by the nose. A pure heart create for me, O God. Put a steadfast spirit within me." (source)

"A fast creates margin for God to move. Temporarily changing our routine of comfort jars us off high center. A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves. As Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, said, “It is exchanging the needs of the physical body for those of the spirit.”

Hatmaker, Jen (2013-12-02). 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (pp. 4-5). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

12  But there’s also this, it’s not too late—
God’s personal Message!—
“Come back to me and really mean it!
Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins!”
13–14  Change your life, not just your clothes.
Come back to Godyour God.
And here’s why: God is kind and merciful.
He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot,
This most patient God, extravagant in love,
always ready to cancel catastrophe.
- Joel 2: 12-13

Lent is meant to represent Jesus' 40-day fasting and temptation in the desert. Holy Saturday, the Saturday before Easter Sunday is the last day of Lent. That will be April 19 this year....believe me, it's marked on my calendar. Lent is essentially a way that many Christians, myself included, choose to prepare our hearts for Easter Sunday. 

For my first Lenten season, I am choosing to give up sweets for the next 40 days. I chose sweets because I thoughtlessly reach for and eat this kind of junk food on a daily basis. It's not that I think I shouldn't eat these things or am trying to lose any weight. It's just that I almost always regret my choice of mindlessly eating a handful of candy or a bowl of ice cream, and I just do it out of habit...especially at night if I am bored or sitting and watching TV. I especially find myself over-indulging in sweet treats here at Girl Scout cookie time and Easter when ALL of my favorite candy hits the stores.  

To help me with my Lent fasting of sweets and focus more on God during this time, I ordered a Lent journal from Naptime Diaries, a blog and print shop I have adored for the last couple of years. You can see the journal pictured above. It is just so beautiful, and I'll be spending time in it instead of stuffing my face with Cadbury mini eggs, Samoas, and Edy's S'mores ice cream. This is my chance to be intentional about my choices...taking the time to feel the grief of Christ's betrayal and death and my sin makes the joy of Easter Sunday that much more meaningful. 

If you're interested, you too, can order a Lent journal. It won't be here in time for Ash Wednesday (obviously), but the journal is not dated, so you can start your journaling on a day of your choosing. 

I'll be posting each week about my Lent experience, so be sure and come back if you're interested in hearing my thoughts and learning about my growth during this fasting experience. Feel free to enjoy a sweet treat in my honor as well...and tell me about it. I'll live vicariously.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Five on Friday

It's that time of the week! Five on Friday with Christina and April. I can honestly say these lists are some of my favorite to post and to read. Every week, I always gain a new recipe, product review, or tip! Be sure to check out what other bloggers are chatting about each Friday!

ONE - This salad has been on repeat in my lunchbox this week, and I'm still not tired of it. I found a similar recipe on Pinterest, but tweaked it to make it my own. I used kale, blueberries, toasted pecan, a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese, and the dressing is super simple - the juice of 1 lemon, a tablespoon (or little more) of whole grain mustard, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and salt/pepper to taste. Make sure you buy the pearled couscous and just cook according to package directions. I like to keep the salad and couscous in separate containers in the fridge and then heat up and add the couscous when I'm ready to eat it.

TWO - I updated my running playlist this week for my long Saturday runs. Not gonna lie..."Mirrors" by the one and only J.T. makes running up a hill almost fun. I have to remember that I'm actually out in public and not sing out loud to this song. I had been saving this song for the 7-10 mile stretch of my training. I know that sounds silly, but I hate tiring of a good running song, so I try to save some of my favorites and not listen to them until I'm ready to add them to my playlist. I'm a firm believer in delayed gratification.

THREE - Another food item I have been loving is this white chocolate peanut butter. How it has less calories and fat in it than regular peanut butter, I'm not sure. However, my label comparing says it's true and that makes me happy, happy, happy. Who am I kidding, though? I was going to eat it anyway. I've been enjoying it on my honey crisp apples as a lunch treat. This company has other pb flavors too...I think I'd like to try the cinnamon raisin swirl.

FOUR - I just purchased the Kindle version of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Christian author Jen Hatmaker. One of my best friends, McCall, told me about this book because she and her sister are currently taking on this experiment. The premise is focus on one area of your life that needs downsizing each choices, clothing options, media use, etc. The book is Hatmaker's (along with her husband and children) experience with this challenge. The Kindle version is only $2.99, so I thought it would be a good, thoughtful read. Who knows?? Maybe it will inspire me to try a few of her "fasts" in areas of my own life.

FIVE - It's supposed to be a beautiful weekend here in NC, and I cannot wait to spend it outside. Clint and I are kicking off our weekend with a 90-minute couple's massage. We got an awesome deal through Groupon. We have both been running a lot and upping our strength training - him with Crossfit and me with some at-home workouts, so we figured we would treat our sore muscles. Otherwise, it's going to be a low-key weekend spent around our house doing some projects and enjoying cold drinks on our deck with a game or two of backgammon.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Five on Friday - Snowy Valentine's Day Edition

Linking up with Christina and April for today's edition of Five on Friday. What a week it's been! I've had snow days for the last 3 days, so that's been fun and a different change of pace. I keep a fairly busy schedule, so having time to just play and relax has been pretty amazing.

Let's get this list started, shall we?

ONE - We have really enjoyed the snow. I forgot how much fun sledding is...not to mention the calorie burn from walking back up the hills after you go down. Last night, I went sledding with my siblings and nieces/nephews. We went to the Country Club where we grew up sledding. It's been since high school (circa 1996) since it's snowed enough here to really get in good sledding there.

Will you check out that moon...actually dubbed the "snow" moon according to WBTV

my dogs love to chase sleds

TWO - The snow gave me the chance to finally use one of my Christmas presents from Clint.  These Kahtoola MICROspikes are amazing for trekking around and running on icy snow. They're similar to the more widely-known Yaktrax and are a bit pricier than the Yaktrax, but they work! As much as I love the snow, it makes my outdoor runs a no-go, but not anymore. I went for a good 3 mile jog in these and never missed a beat.

THREE - Having so much time at home snowed in makes me a little antsy and allows me to notice all of the nitty, gritty dirty places in my house...namely all of the items with dog hair stuck to them. As much as I love my dogs, one of them is quite the shedding machine. I try to keep them off of the furniture but inevitably the hair floating in the air just seems to land in various places. The sight of dog hair on furniture and stuff makes me feel like my house is dirty no matter how clean it actually is, so I'm constantly on a mission to get rid of it. We got this vacuum awhile back, but I've only recently started using the pet attachment accessories that came with it. I figured they wouldn't really make much of a difference...boy, was I wrong! If you have pets that shed, I highly recommend this vacuum cleaner. It's a fraction of the cost of some other ones and it really does the trick! I used this on our couch, chairs, bed skirts, and more...they all look brand new!

FOUR - Any plans for Valentine's Day? Ours include staying at home, cooking a great steak and our own creme brûlée with homemade strawberry sauce. I'm not a huge fan of eating out at pricy restaurants any time of the year, and certainly not for Valentine's, so I always look forward to this little tradition we've created. Here's a picture of last year's creme brûlée....I always use this easy-peasy recipe and it never disappoints. Making creme brûlée with your guy is a pretty fun date me, if your guy is anything like Clint, he will love using the butane torch!!

I've perfected the torching process since last year

FIVE - We're on a little budget for gifts this year, but if not, this Supersoft Short PJ Set would be on my list. I'm a fan of a button-down pj top and shorts...with Spring coming, these might have to make their way into my pajama drawer. How fun is the Pop Art Pink color!?!

 Hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day. It's a great day to let all of the people in your life let them know they're loved! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Smooth Sailing

While reading Lindsey's blog (so glad she's back at it!) last night, I came across this quote "If January is for dreamers, February is for doers."

I then remembered a poster I made myself months ago that I never got around to posting because I just wasn't writing at the least not on this Internet space anyway.

For the last few months, we have been making loose plans about big dreams. I hate to be vague, but for the sake of having to retract celebratory statements or explain myself to someone who may read this and run with it, I'm just going to have to be vague.

No, I'm not pregnant. Yes, our marriage is good; better than good. This is a career thing.

The point is that I'm discovering each day that making dreams come true is hard work; not physically hard work, but mentally and emotionally hard work. Weighing the pros and cons of decisions can be draining and downright scary. For the last couple of weeks, I have lost hours of sleep to a mental jousting match with doubts and fears telling me, "You can't, you might shouldn't, what if??" Dontcha just hate "What Ifs?" It's enough to make any sane person throw in the towel and settle for the status quo. 

Then, I'm reminded of the poster I made myself a few months ago; it was meant as a reminder then and now....sailing the same smooth sea never warranted any sailor a new adventure, a more breathtaking view, or the thrill of discovering a new land. 

Metaphors aside, I finally took the first plunge yesterday in making this little dream of mine (ours!) come true. I am so grateful that I swallowed the bile that was literally clawing at my throat as anxious nerves tried to get the best of me. I followed through and now all of those doubts that threw darts at my January dreams have been replaced by a voracious energy that is going to make things happen in February. Some questions are still unanswered and a good deal of messy work lays ahead, but the hardest part is behind us I think

Again, I really hate to be vague, but if all goes as planned, I'll be able to link back to this post in a couple of months and reveal some happy, happy news. 

*** On another note, we're supposed to get 5-6 inches of snow here in the next 24 hours....if this forecast comes to fruition, you can find me cozied up on my couch with a book in between snowy walks with Clint and our pups.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Five on Friday

Linking up today for Five on Friday hosted by some bloggers (Christina and April) I've been following for quite some time. Two lists of 5 things in one for me! Lists are often times easier than an entire post devoted to one subject.

ONE -  We got snow in Shelby/Kings Mountain this week, so it's been a pretty crazy week. I was off of work on Wednesday and went in late on Thursday. Snow is a BIG DEAL here...everything pretty much shuts down and people go a little berserk. As it was starting to really come down late Tuesday afternoon, Clint and I took the dogs up King's Pinnacle for a little hike. The woods were really peaceful and the trail looked beautiful covered in freshly-fallen snow. A snowy hike is a pretty magical way to spend a Tuesday afternoon.

snow selfie

King's Pinnacle summit

TWO -  I made this Kale-Shaved Brussels Sprouts salad Wednesday night. I followed the directions to a "t"with the exception of subbing pumpkin seeds for the almonds because I didn't have any on hand. I wish I could tell you I loved it, but honestly, I ate about half of a bowl I took of it for lunch, and then threw the entire batch in the garbage. I loved the dressing for this salad but didn't love the raw brussels sprouts. I also tried roasting some brussels sprouts. Turns out, I didn't like those either. I think it's a safe bet that brussels sprouts are off of my healthy eating list.

looks better than it tastes

THREE -  I received this necklace from BaubleBar this week, and am looking forward to wearing it now and into the Spring/Summer. I love tortoise and am so glad it seems to be so "in" currently, and longer statement necklaces are my go-to for dressing up all of the solid tops and dresses I wear. If you haven't tried BaubleBar, I highly recommend their jewelry. The quality is amazing and the price is right most of the time. Also, you can earn "vault points" to be used towards purchases. For instance, I got $5 off of this necklace because of some items I purchased at Christmas. Also, you get 15% off of your first purchase.

Tortoise Grenadine Pendant Necklace

FOUR - Clint and I are headed to Charlotte tonight for dinner/drinks at Heist Brewery and then to see The Marshall Tucker Band at the Fillmore. Clint cut his hand pretty badly at the beginning of January, and we haven't had an evening out like this just the two of us in awhile, so I'm pretty pumped! I've heard amazing things about the appetizers and cocktails at Heist Brewery, and we're big Marshall Tucker fans, so I think we're in for a good date night.

FIVE - I admit I'm not a huge NFL fan, but I do look forward to the Super Bowl each year. It's a great reason to drink and eat yummy appetizers on a Sunday, and of course, I love the commercials. Of all the ones I've seen, this one by far takes the cake for me. Hats off to you, Budweiser for keeping it classy and heart-warming.

Happy Friday friends! Wishing you a happy weekend doing whatever it is you love!