Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday's Letters

I spy with my little eye...Starbucks at Copper Rock. Who does that?!

Dear Dude Who Brought a Starbucks Drink into Copper Rock, Seriously? Who does that?! This is a coffee shop. We make coffee drinks. Don't bring a coffee drink from another coffee shop here. People these days. Dear Strengths Finder Paper, Please come easily today. You're my first grad school paper and I'd like to do well on this. Dear Weekend, Driving to Fond du Lac for two lunch dates? Bring it on. Especially because one happens to be with my college bestie who I NEVER SEE! To say I'm excited is actually an understatement! Dear Self, "Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats." -James 3:13-16


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Ode to Peanut Butter


Yes. It has come to this. I am dedicating an entire post to my peanut butter obsession. And no, using that word is not an exaggeration.

As I mentioned in this post, I have been on an apple with peanut butter kick for a few months now. Also as I mentioned, this has increased my peanut butter consumption from about one jar per year to one jar per week. Let's pretend we didn't just add up how much this obsession is costing me, ok? Right.

I suppose this post is mostly for my own validation, but also to spread the peanut butter love (pun definitely intended). Especially now that I'm back into a regular fitness routine, peanut butter can absolutely be my guilt-free best friend.

Here are some facts from a Prevention article I found.

-People who eat 2 tablespoons of peanut butter at least 5 days a week can lower their risk of developing diabetes by almost 30%
-It is filling. With 2g of fiber and 8g of protein, two tablespoons can go a long way.
-It helps you stave off cravings. Peanut butter has some natural sweetness to it so you can have a spoonful of it instead of a bowl of ice cream. You get your craving met and don't throw your diet off of wack. Win-win.
-Plus a bunch of science stuff I don't really understand any further than knowing it is a source of "healthy" fat, the potassium balances out the sodium.

Basically, this obsession is not ending, and I no longer feel bad about that.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Taste Evolution

I have always been a relatively picky eater. You know Meg Ryan's pie order in When Harry Met Sally? Yes, I was that girl. "No onions, tomatoes, or mushrooms, please." "...but with no mayo." "Can you hold the pecans and gorgonzola?" "Do you have cheddar instead?" Yup. Servers loved me.

In the last few years I have worked to expand my palette. Onions and tomatoes: check. Nuts: check. Specialty cheeses: check (with the exception of blue cheese). Raspberries: check. I've done this mostly by forcing myself to eat the certain food until I finally like it.

There are four things I am determined to acquire a taste for in 2013. If you're out to eat with me and I order a dish with any of these items, DO NOT LET ME CUT THEM OUT. If I eat them enough, I'll like them. This has been proven. Not with mayo though. That stuff is just gross, and I really don't see any need for it in my diet anyhow.


GUINNESS: I know. A beer snob like myself doesn't enjoy a pint of Guinness? I'll get there. I had a version of a Black and Tan earlier this week and actually like it a lot. I'm going to call it a Black Cow because the bartender used Spotted Cow. (My other option was a Black and Blue- with Blue Moon. They didn't have Bass on tap)

MUSHROOMS: I am already working on this one too. I shared an appetizer of mushrooms in a flaky filo dough a few weeks ago and was not choking them down. If they are in the right flavor combination, I think I will be able to manage these.

BLUEBERRIES: Again, I've had them in smoothies, but I still can't quite manage to eat them on their own. But they are SO good for you, so I'm determined.

CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER: Blasphemous, right? I don't like chocolate and peanut butter together. This one is really just on here because I feel like a bit of a disgrace to the female gender by not liking it. Even when I make puppy chow I use about half the amount of peanut butter it calls for just to make sure I don't really have to taste it. Anyone have a good place to start with this?

One of these days (or years) I'll have to add fish to this list. But I'm not ready for that yet. Now, like I said, please hold me to this list! I want to like all of these things, but I won't get there if I don't try them...over and over and over and over again.




Friday's Letters

Anyone else ready for baseball season? 73 days to opening day! YES.
Dear Motivation, Time to kick it into high gear. I'm a student now; that means assignments and due dates and no procrastination. Let's practice, shall we? Dear Weekend, Ready. Set. Go. Productivity starts now! Actually, it started 3 hours ago...I think I'm on track for a great weekend! Dear Life, Lessons learned. Onward & upward! Dear Friends, THANK YOU for being there for me! I am so very grateful to have such amazing people in my life to give me advice (and tough love!) when necessary. I truly appreciate it. I also appreciate the skeeball nights, cribbage games, lunches, and conversations shared over drinks or coffee. Dear Gloria Jeans Hazelnut Coffee, Where have you been all my life?! This could be the start of something good. Dear Apples & Peanut Butter, Congratulations. This is now the longest lasting relationship I've have had in two years. *cue sad trombone* Dear Self, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong & courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged; for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go." - Joshua 1:9



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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fill you right up

...that's what this smoothie will do.

I found the recipe on Pinterest but have made a few modifications just based on what I have in the house. It is seriously delicious, and really does keep me full until dinner.

Here's how I make it:
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup frozen berries (I use the strawberries, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry blend)
1 banana
1TB honey
1 cup ice
1 cup liquid (the original recipe suggests coconut water or juice. I'm currently using soy milk until I get to the store for almond milk)
Blend and enjoy!



Blogspiration

You know, like inspiration, but with blogs.

Anyhow...here are the blogs that inspire me; not just to blog, but also in my day to day life. There are some amazing ladies out there! If you know of any blogs that I might like, please pass them on :)

Hopes and Dreams
This blog follows Jessi and her hubby, John, as they embark through life's journey with their little man, James.  I love reading about her love story, but also appreciate her realness. She doesn't hide her insecurities or shortcomings. Jessi went to school for family and relationship communication and has a great series on being single and dating. Actually, she has a lot of really great series on her blog...

The Sweet Season
This is the blog that inspired me to start doing Friday's Letters (she created this fun linkup). Ashley is funny, creative, and has an admirable faith in God. Her blog is my go-to place for inspiration when I hit a block in my writing!

The Daybook
I am almost embarrassed to say how addicted I am to this blog. Sydney has the most amazing writing style and her blog will literally (actually, figuratively) suck you in! If you need any sort of fashion inspiration, or a boost of confidence to know that you can wear whatever you feel great in, head on over to her blog. Or if you just want to laugh, cry, and spend three hours reading about life with an adorable little baby.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Be Well

Remember this post? I made a couple goals in 2012. *birds chirping* Right. I figure before I go on making my 2013 goals, I should assess my progress on my 2012 goals.

I'm going to start with Be Well. Basically, I wanted to make my health and well being a priority. When I first graduated college and moved back to Appleton, I joined the Y and started two classes: Boot Camp and Strength & Stretch (now Core). I also signed up for the No Boundaries 5k Training through Fleet Feet. I got my ass kicked in boot camp, and somehow managed to run my first 5k with having only trained one day per week for 10 weeks. Strength & Stretch turned out to be the real winner for me and I kept going a regular basis for about a year. Last summer (2011) my life got a little crazier, I had a social life and friends and better things to do than break a sweat at class. What was I thinking?!

While not working out, or really being active in any meaningful way (I ran with JoBeth maybe 4 times a month consistently...), I was also drinking my fair share of beer. My diet was pretty spotty, at best. I would buy awesome, healthy, organic foods at the grocery store or farmers market but was never home to eat them so they went bad. It is fair to say that I deserved the 9 pounds I put on.

Fast forward to 2012. I continued to buy healthy food, and did a little better at eating it rather than wasting it. This became even more true once I moved into the ABC house. I took healthy foods to work for lunch and generally just snacked on healthy foods at home for dinner. My beer intake decreased substantially which helped me get rid of most of those unwanted 9 pounds. (Note: I do know 9 pounds doesn't sound like a lot. And in reality, the only time I really go on a scale is at the doctor's office. But 9 pounds looks and feels like 19 on my petite frame and that is what I am more concerned with.) However, I was still mostly inactive and feeling weaker by the day.

Enter: my neurologist. As we know from this post, I was a bit of a medical experiment this fall. The conclusion my neurologist came to after seeing nothing but normal tests was that I didn't handle stress well. She prescribed me a few diet changes (less caffeine, more fruits/veggies, more water), quiet daily meditation, and exercise. Reality check: when did I have time to exercise?! Yeah, I was "that girl" with such a busy life that exercise just didn't fit. Real smart, Crystal.

Now here I am. No 8-4 job anymore (except next week when I'm at copper rock monday - thursday during those hours...visit me?). I knew that this was the ideal time to get back on track. So, off to Fleet Feet I went to buy me some new running shoes. You saw them here. They're hott, right? Hot pink, I mean. And off to the Y I went. Crystal, meet treadmill. Treadmill, meet Crystal. Oh, and welcome back to MW Core. YES. And now, I even have someone to keep me honest about a Monday/Wednesday cardio workout. (thanks, Elizabeth!)

I'm turning over a new leaf, people. I am going to get fit. I am going to eat healthy. I am going to get strong. I am going to feel better. Smiles all around!

I have to be honest

I love not having a full time job. There. I said it. Obviously losing my job wasn't fun, per se. However, these last few weeks have been so fulfilling for me. I have been able to choose what to do and when, and have felt more in control of my own life than I had in a long time. Anyone who has been around in the last few weeks knows that I have been far from lazy. My days still somehow manage to fill up, I still have to-do lists that seem to take forever to get through, and I am in fact still working. The difference is that I am doing so much more of what I really want to be doing without any of the tedious tasks that come with a full time job. (Side note: I loved working at Housing Partnership. I am passionate about the organization and its work, and I loved the people. The job just wasn't right for me. End note.)

I also figured I would answer this since I get asked about it on a fairly regular basis: no, I am not going to collect unemployment. Would the extra money be nice? Of course. But the problem is that unemployment requires me to be actively looking for a job. ...I'm not doing that. Again, it isn't that I want to just sit around on my couch all day and not do anything. That couldn't be further from the truth. The truth is, I am going to back to school so I can take the next step in my career journey and move into a field that feeds my passion (education). So for now, ABC and Copper Rock are plenty for me. Does that mean I'll be living like a college student again? Yup. My bank account reminds me of that every day. But here's the thing: my happiness and fulfillment do not come from money or from my job. I have found in the last few months that what drives me more than anything is following my passions.

For the next year I will be holding three main roles: resident director, barista, and student. After that, who knows? I will have my M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and can begin exploring some new territory. But for now, I'm going to enjoy this time. This is the gap year I never had, and I plan to take full advantage of it. Yes, that also means I will be going to Europe for 30 days this summer. Thanks, friends, for your support! This is an exciting time for me and I look forward to all that I have to experience and learn!

Also, I am going to work on my writing skills. Can you say passive voice much? Yikes. 


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Oh, you know

Today I'm wearing my new pants with polka dots. And I'm officially a grad student.

It's going to be a good day.



Sunday, January 13, 2013

Namesake

I feel like this is a fitting post considering the title of my blog. And really, I like using this space to record my thoughts and feelings (ramblings). So that's just what I plan to today!

Loving:

1) I bought a pair of boxer briefs this weekend. For myself. To wear to bed. And let me just say...I'm in love. Where have these been all my life?! I had a friend in high school who wore boxer briefs to bed, but I was more into baggy sleeping attire back then. In the last five years, my pajamas have become less about coverage, and more about comfort. And comfort has turned into a very strong 'less is more' ideal. So given all that, boxer briefs are amazing.

2) I'm pretty sure I could live off of four food items right now: pita bread, hummus, apples, peanut butter. I eat two, if not all four, of those every single day. The apple & peanut butter has been going on for over a month now. I used to be able to make a jar of peanut butter last an entire year I used it so rarely. Now? I go through one a week. Whoa. Incidentally, does anyone have a good hummus recipe? I finally found tahini and am ready to start making my own killer creations.

3) I'm in the process of setting some goals for 2013. The year is off to a pretty decent start, but there are a few things I want to make sure I accomplish. There are also a few lessons I have learned and I want to make sure they stay fresh in my mind. Once I have them set I am going to post my goals here, but I'm also looking for ways to have them even more visual for me. Maybe a background on my iPad? A sticky note on my alarm clock? A cute print in the bathroom? We'll see. I want this to be a great year, and I've learned that the more aware I can be of my actions, the better my choices and the happier I am.

Lacking:

1) I let myself go way too long without doing laundry again. I'm talking an entire duffle bag full of clothes, plus my flannel sheets in my hamper. On the plus side, I came across a weird spurt of motivation and went through my closet getting rid of (almost) anything I hadn't worn in 6 months. This led to a massive Goodwill pile and some major closet reorganizing. And yet, I don't seem to have any more room in my closet than I did before.

2) With not having a full time day job anymore, I find myself getting a little lazy in the dressing department. I'm not going into an office, so I'm not nearly as concerned with looking super presentable. But that doesn't give me an excuse to wear jeans, a tshirt and a cardigan every single day. Or leggings and flannel every other day. Solution? I might try a 30 for 30 challenge. What's this? I pick out a total of 30 items from my closet and can only make outfits from those pieces for 30 days. I saw this on another blog and thought it sounded fun. It would force me to get a little more creative with my outfits. And a little creativity never hurt anyone.

Note to Self

You feel your best, most confident, and top of your game when you are unapologetically true to yourself. With that being said, why be anything else? Stick with what works. If it ain't broke don't fix it. Don't change just for the sake of changing. Keep on keeping on. Too much? Too much.

Basically, a real you = a happy you. And that is the goal, after all.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Stressed spelled backwards is desserts....

Here's the deal. I'm not always healthy when I'm stressed. The ABC boys have learned that if they see me baking in the kitchen, or come home to a fresh batch of cookies, something is up. Luckily, the treadmill has been like a magnet to me in the last few days so my unhealthy stress relief technique wasn't so awful today. Nonetheless, I spent the morning baking. I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, and no bake energy bites. I know, I know. Real unhealthy, right? (Ok, give me a break. I really am trying to turn over a new leaf!)
If I were a real lifestyle blogger (a girl can dream) I would have taken perfect photos of all of my prep work with these treats. In my spotless white kitchen. With adorable matching tools and utensils. And a DSLR camera. Ahem, maybe not.

But I do have a few scrumptious photos. I wish you could smell my kitchen through the screen- so good. I gave you the links to the recipes I used, because they're definitely worth repeating! Except the cookies. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are sort of my specialty, but today...I failed. First, I couldn't find my go-to recipe. Since I was already on this healthy baking kick, I thought I would try a new recipe out. I think I need a little more practice with sugar and oil and egg substitutions. And definitely with wheat flour.

For the record: the banana bread uses applesauce instead of oil and honey instead of sugar. And it was successful with wheat flour! Oh, and those chunks of banana you see in there? SO GOOD. This is a recipe I will hang on to. It doesn't often happen that the first recipe you try is a winner (yes, this is my first banana bread!) but this one absolutely is. I am going to make one lucky man very happy someday with this recipe. Picture this: fresh banana bread on a Saturday morning (win) followed by banana bread French toast in bed on Sunday morning (double win). Seriously.



Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday's Letters

Biggest accomplishment of the week: bought new shoes. hit the gym.

Dear Life, Let's get real here. I could use a break from the life lessons, ok? igetitineedtodobetter. Dear AFP, I am so grateful I get to continue on as President this year! I have so many ideas and hope to leave my mark on our chapter. Dear Grad School, HERE I COME!!! Details to come soon. Dear EF College Break, I am so torn. Can I still go on a 30 day trip this summer? I'm sans-salary and also about to be in full-time study mode. But I KNOW I will regret it if I don't do it. Such a pickle... Dear Self, "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall" -Psalm55:22



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#30daysofthanks

I meant to do this on the blog during November, but ended up doing it only on Facebook. This is my way of making up for that. It is also for my own use - to keep these thoughts fresh as I go through less than ideal situations.

DAY 1) I am thankful for happy thoughts on cloudy days.

DAY 2) I'm thankful for a weekend project to lift my spirits.

DAY 3) I'm thankful for the ABC boys. I had a pretty awful week, but spending some lazy time with them yesterday and today lifted me right up. I could go on and on about them, but really can't even find the words to explain it all. I am so thankful for this opportunity, for all that I'm learning (and teaching), for all that I get to experience. It can be testing at time, but I wouldn't change it for the world.

DAY 4) I'm thankful for best friends. Those that, even after weeks of not seeing each other, we can pick up like we never left. I don't have a lot of really good friends, but these two...I am so thankful for, and can't ever express it. Again, a horrible week is made better because of those I love. Days like these make it easy to feel blessed.

DAY 5) I am thankful for my pastor. (Yes, you, Mike) I am thankful for the almost year-long process that I was blessed to be a part of in search of a new pastor for MPC, and I am thankful that the spirit spoke the same thing to Mike as it did to the nominating committee. I am incredibly grateful for the role he has played in my life - for challenging me, believing in me, and praying for me (I think that's a safe assumption!). But above all, I am thankful for his leadership at MPC, and for the future that we will all have together at such an amazing church. My heart is so full today.

DAY 6) I am thankful that the government will leave my uterus alone for at least another 4 years :)

In all seriousness, I am so thankful to live in a country that allows free speech, freedom of opinion, and the right to vote. Election Day is a day to be thankful, regardless of the results.

DAY 7) I am thankful for the changing of the seasons. Even this gloomy, kind of awkward, phase between fall and winter. I am thankful for the beauty that I find in nature, and the peace it brings.

DAY 9) I am thankful for a cute manicure, spiced chai, Friday, and good advice.

DAY 10) I am thankful for my desire and ability to learn - about my work, my world, and myself. I believe there is something to learn every day and I am grateful for those opportunities.

DAY 11) I am thankful for all of the men and women who have served, are serving, and will serve our country. On this Veterans Day, I am especially thankful that those who are brave enough to serve can be who they are and be open about who they love while they serve. I am so very proud of this country, and personally thankful to my friends and family members who have fought to keep us safe.

DAY 12) I am thankful for my two wonderful brothers. We may not always get along, and we definitely don't talk as often as we should...but I have to admit, they're pretty good guys. Love you two :)

DAY 13) I am thankful for the current, future, and past opportunities I have/had for personal and professional growth and development. As George Bernard Shaw put it: "Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." I am thankful for every experience that allows me to create a new piece of myself.

DAY 14) I am thankful for Appleton. There is just something about this city that has me feeling a little bit giddy...

DAY 15) I am thankful for the direction my life journey is going lately. Some interesting people and situations have come about and I am eager (though, admittedly a little scared) to see what lies ahead for me. I am especially thankful for the people I have in my life right now to talk about this journey and to serve as guides. Today was incredibly overwhelming, but it lit a spark and I am so thankful for that timing.

DAY 16) I am thankful for a weekend full of plans to catch up on sleep, reading, chores, and emails.

DAY 17) I am thankful for two of the best men in my life: my dad and my older brother. Happy birthday you two! Love you :)

DAY 18) I am thankful for goals, and for plans to meet those goals. There is something to be said for beginning with the end in mind...I know exactly what I want to accomplish and I am determined to get there.

DAY 19) I am thankful that life is keeping me on my toes. Wouldn't want me to get too comfortable or bored, I suppose.

DAY 20) I am thankful that my long weekend of food, family, and rejuvenation starts tomorrow!

DAY 21) I am thankful for the spirit of the holidays, shown downtown through the gorgeous display of lights, but also felt through the company of family. I really do love this time of year! (Now if only Mother Nature would get it together and give us some fluffy white snow!!!)

DAY 22) I'm thankful to have such a great family to spend this day with. Brothers, cousins, aunts & uncles...I have the best family.

DAY 23) I am thankful for the great friends I have in my life. From those I talk to every day, to the ones I only catch up with once a year. I am grateful to have such amazing friendships that have lasted through so many of life's weird twists & turns. I am grateful for all I've learned and experienced with and through my friends. I'm a lucky girl :)

DAY 24) I am thankful for a wonderfully busy holiday weekend, but also for a day to just "be" tomorrow.

DAY 25) I'm thankful for all of the memories behind this and especially thankful for all of the people with me to make them :)

DAY 26) I am thankful for words of encouragement and hope. 

DAY 27) I am thankful for gentle nudges that keep me on track with personal goals. As I read in the Alchemist, once you decide you want something, the universe conspires to make it happen. I'm seeing glimpses of that lately and it is restoring my faith.

DAY 28) I'm thankful for the photo below (BFF chats on a Wednesday night). I know the ABC boys were already listed in my #30daysofthanks, but I feel the need to say it again. This experience has taught, and continues to teach me, so much more about myself and the world we live in than I could have ever expected. I am so grateful for every one of them, and for the role they're playing in my life journey.

DAY 29) I am thankful for a busy, fun-filled weekend ahead. An added bonus is the sentimental energy I feel as one of the ABC boys goes on stage as the lead in the play at West this weekend. As I sat in the auditorium tonight, I took in all of the familiar sights and sounds of opening night. Theatre was my absolute passion in high school and I am so grateful that I get to "relive" that excitement through Reuben.

DAY 30) Looking back at my #30daysofthanks posts definitely makes me grateful for so many aspects of my life. Between life lessons, role models, friends, family, and opportunities, I am incredibly blessed. But today, I am thankful for my mom. She is my best friend and constant solid ground, always there when I need her: to play cards and laugh, to vent and cry, and just to talk about life's happenings. I don't know where I would be without her and I am thankful for her every single day. Love you, mom :)


top row - day29:Reuben's Play//day26//day28:mervin&reuben
middle row - day12:siblings//day20:downtown//day3:obama rally
bottom row - day9//day4:stacey&jb//day25:bazils

Monday, January 7, 2013

True Blessings

When I did the 30 days of thanks during November, I remember feeling particularly blessed and happy for the entire month. Once December started and life's pace quickened, I realized I wasn't taking the time every day to be thankful for all that I have. While I may not publicly share my daily thanks, I am going to get back into that habit. For now, I want to share two things I am incredibly grateful for lately.

My wonderful mother. I was driving home from Stevens Point yesterday and called my mom to catch up on the weekend activities. We were talking about this, that, and the other thing when she stopped and said: "I am so glad we are able to have these candid conversations." I agree 110%. My mom and I have always had an amazingly positive relationship. Growing up, especially in middle school and high school, I remember my girlfriends' constant fights and struggles with their moms. I was never able to join in those conversations because I didn't have those experiences. I tell people my mom and I are so lucky to have the relationship that we have; but in all fairness, we work really damn hard to have this relationship. Have we ever been the fighting and catty mother and daughter? Never. But that's not to say we haven't had our share of disagreements. What sets up apart (in my opinion) is that we always center our conversations around love, respect, and openness. I share everything (maybe to a fault?) with my mom. And she gives me incredibly honest and candid advice. There have been times when she has given me advice that I wasn't ready to hear, so I didn't. But it seems to always come back to me when I am ready for it.

A changing life. In the last few weeks I have gone through some significant changes. I spent November sharing all that I was thankful for and it really put me in the perfect place to begin this process of changing. There have been a few times in the last couple of weeks where I stop and just realize how blessed I am. Some of the changes in my life lately have been hard (really, who wants to get let go from their job right before the holidays) but I feel so good about the direction of my life and can't help but focus on all that is good. Maybe I sound naive and unrealistic, but that's just who I am. Here's the part that I am most proud of: my happiness is truly within me. I look around my life, and have plenty to be thankful for, and plenty of sources of happiness, but what I gained most in 2012 was inner peace and self happiness. And that's what is going to reap benefits during 2013.