The Little Things I’m Loving Lately

Because its all about the little things in life.

I started this post a few days ago, tried to post yesterday but didn’t have a stellar internet connection up in the air.  However, I can’t imagine a better time to post it as I am stranded in Atlanta en route to Gulfport for a special send-off.  I can’t lie, a lack of sleep and low blood sugar contributed to some emotionally low moments yesterday.  But after a good nights rest, a few cups of coffee and a fresh coat of mascara I’m ready to venture back out today! GPT or bust.

Without further adieu here goes a few things I am especially “lovin’ lately”:

Satellite Radio:

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A five month subscription to Siris XM for $20? My free trial ended last August – and they have been trying to suck me in ever since! They finally made me an offer I couldn’t pass up.  Love the commercial free music stations, as well as NPR Now.  I listen in my car and through my Sonos music subscription at home.

Finding THE PERFECT birthday card:

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Does that puppy look like Henry or what!?

Repurposed wrapping:

Recycled paper that POPS
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and a Fun tulle bow spiffs up a DIY lamp
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And lastly, restored faith in humanity. After witnessing my fair share of jerkitude yesterday both on the way to the airport and while held up in ATL, I was also the recipient of so much kindness. The “Dad” who offered me help, the old man who carried my bag up the stairs, the woman who gave me a packet of tissues and my companion at the spa who donated her points to me! #winning

Somehow in the midst of being held up in the Atlanta airport for hours, even days for some in the worst storm the southeast has seen in 10 YEARS we managed to make a joke here and there and make light of it…I am so thankful for those who made me laugh and especially the moms who made me OH so grateful to be flying solo and not with child in tow.

And finally I wouldn’t have made it to see the light of day today without the support of my fearless mother for getting me to the airport yesterday morning, friends and family opening their doors for me to stay over last night and my dedicated significant other for reminding me that it’s really NOT the end of the world.

Alright – here goes day 2 security check – in, for the sake of my well being, please say a prayer that I reach my destination today, not only smoothly but more importantly safely. Over and out!

UPDATED TO ADD: and I MADE IT, 24 hours later but safely and the sun was out to boot – peaceful feelings all around.

This week: Highs and Lows

Luckily the lowest parts of my week happened on the tail end of last weekend…and today brought lots of productivity by procrastination.

One of my best friends and I had “big plans” for a study date today – but both found ourselves procrastinating by “being productive” in other ways, organizing, moving furniture, taking inventory, nesting and even (and always) some baking.  Thus “productivity by procrastination.” Its not a bad thing.

A few years ago when I moved into my 1300 sq foot apartment with too few big girl belongings to fill it, I could literally spend hours rearranging furniture, the contents of furniture and other decor like wall coverings.  I absolutely love the term “nesting” and think it describes one of my favorite past times almost perfectly.

Today I put the last of the Christmas decorations away, and went through some of my things in storage to see what I had and what I would need a year from now when I make my first REAL nest.

Since I moved in to my little “studio” apartment in May, I had my most prized possession, my dining room table, functioning as, well, a table – duh.  My living room is right off of my bedroom and contains my couch, TV, sidebar and a few other pieces I will have to post pictures of soon.  The table with six chairs was positioned in the back of the room but generally had only been used as my desk and present wrapping table.  Actually, the one time I had friends over I actually got rid of chairs for the table to serve as as buffet for our munchies for wine night.

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With the beginning of the next school semester upon me, I decided to make this space more of an oversized and comfier desk area.  I hated 1) Having my huge monitor and thus the cables to it and my laptop all over the table and 2) sitting on a stiff dining room chair to do work.  really, I would prefer to have a standing desk.  but that’s not quite possible in my current life.

So, I removed 4 of the chairs from the table, and pushed it (almost) up against the wall.  There is about six inches of space that allow the table to “float” in front of the wall – and allow all of the cords to fall nicely behind and out of sight.

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The huge monitor – which I LOVE – blends in nicely under my beautiful Harborfest 2009 poster (you can’t even see it, RIGHT?)

Sidebar: This poster is one of my favorite things and played a standout role in my last apartment).  See it peeking out at the end of my hallway?

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And the best part of my new set-up? My storage bench turned work bench.  I love that it spans the length of the table, and hides behind the couch.  It allows me to pivot to see the TV or the doorway.  And is SO PLUSH for hours spent at my workstation.  There is plenty of space between the bench and the couch, you know for a quick yoga session now and then ;).

Now that I sit on the long side of the table, I have a ton of room to stretch out.  Wedding material to my left, school work to my left.  Life in perfect balance.

With a wrap on my “productivity by procrastination” Saturday behind me, let’s check out some high/low action this week before I run through a few friends-family-food-and fitness updates!

HIGH – LOWS

Like I said, the worst part of my week was definitely last weekend.  I had just gotten back from Gulfport and jumped headfirst into work and school.  With the anticipation of Jay deploying and uncertainly about scheduling, I just couldn’t get out of my funk…so I basically just went through the motions until Monday when I could get back into the swing of things.

In addition to a hurting heart, for lack of a better explanation, my kindle broke and I got the word from Amazon that they would give me ZERO for it.  1/2 of the screen wasn’t working, so I couldn’t read a book unless I wanted to read between the lines aka read 1/2 of every page and make up other half.  BLEH

I hadn’t intended on posting anything too deep tonight, but I couldn’t mention a “hurting heart” without mentioning a tragedy that hit close to home this week.  Despite my discussion of weekly “lows” and a “funk” I can honestly say that I am in a better place mentally than I have been since high school.  I am not facing less pressure or in any better health physically than I ever have been, but life is so incredibly manageable and gratifying.  I have been in darker places, where my passion for life wasn’t at a consistent all time high.  I felt insecure, hopeless and worthless.  The thought of ending my life never even crossed my mind for a second, but I have on multiple occasions sought professional guidance for different reasons.

So, that being said, I truly believe that mental health is a serious disease, sometimes so deep that even all of the available resources in the world don’t seem like enough to “fix” someone.  A family two blocks away from my home, lost their 15 year-old to suicide this week.  She was an All-star in every sense, attending the same high school as many of my friends but she was faced with a struggle that ultimately led her to end her own life.  I don’t know why it happened or how someone could actually take those steps to end their own life but I do know that she deserved a chance at life just like we all do…she didn’t deserve to be in a place as dark as death with no way to escape.  Her family did not deserve to live with the whys and hows for the rest of their lives on earth without her.

So if you get a moment, give yourself a little check-in.   Express some extra gratitude that you are in a healthy mental health state – or if you are feeling less than healthy, still express some gratitude, and go seek help – in the form of a phone call to a friend, a walk through the great outdoors or even some professional help.  Don’t wait until the weight of the world is unbearable.

And that’s about where the real lows end.  On a much lighter note, here’s my just for kicks my other low:

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1/2 Marathon:1, Toenail #2:0 – Gross, I know but I didn’t say this blog was going to be 100% pretty – just like my cooking! Shortly after my half marathon I was getting myself a manicure when I noticed my second baby toenail had turned blue…but was hoping it was just a little bruised.  Slowly by slowly it started feeling weaker and weaker and I knew it was only a matter of time before I lost it completely! Just a small battle wound to have after a stellar race. Nevertheless I did text my fiance just to be sure:

“Babe – if I only have 9 toenails will you still marry me?”

…..far too long of a pause

“Haha yes I would.” <— he’s the best, right?!

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Meal Prep! Made my life so much easier this week – like I said in a previous post, I made PaleOMG’s 5 Ingredient Spaghetti Pie and Creamy Pumpkin Chicken.   I didn’t take too many pictures…because I am usually eating between working out and class or at my desk at work, but here’s a good close up of the Spaghetti Pie.  both dishes were fantastic!

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*just as notes, I added mushrooms and fresh basil to the Spaghetti Pie and swapped acorn squash for the spaghetti squash in the  Creamy Chicken Casserole Recipe.  Also, let the Spaghetti Pie cook longer than you would think and REST – it shouldn’t be runny in the slightest.

I highly recommend making a few dishes on Sunday meal prep because you definitely don’t want to be eating the same 1 dish for lunch and dinner.  I swapped some and had each for lunch or dinner everyday.  (and a few eats out planned in that I already had scheduled)

Crossfit Yep – that’s a given.  Getting back to Crossfit on Monday made me so so happy.  I missed my coaches, my fellow athletes and lifting some heavy weight.

here’s a little short hand version of my workouts this week (today was a rest day) – my goal was just to not hurt myself during my first week back!

Monday – Squat Complex: 1 Squat Clean, 2 Front Squats x 7 – 63, 73, 83, 93, 93(f), 83, 88
Tuesday – 6 rounds, 30 DU + 15 T2B 14:13 ALL attempts – mainly knee ups
Wednesday – 5x5x5x5x5 Push Press 85# Max – 5# PR – focused on form for the msot part

Thursday – tough one! 1000 row, 21 thrusters (45#) and 21 Pull-Ups, 500 row, 15 thrusters and 15 Pull-Ups, 250 row, 9 thrusters and 9 Pull-Ups

Friday – 6 AM Hot Yoga – Go me!

And tomorrow calls for SOME type of activity – hopefully a run if its not too windy.

My New Toy I’m calling it my Jay-is-going-away-present, but really it is an expensive kindle upgrade.  Wi-fi only, refurbished. Self-explanatory. Thank you to my Uncle Rod and his partner Barry for donating some funds in the form of an American Express gift card.

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Back in high school, maybe even middle school we used to share our highs and lows for the week in youth group as a kind of ice breaker – and as I create my own blog “brand” I think its a perfect conversation starter!  Hope you liked this version of a “check-in” post and that you will comment your own “highs & lows.”

 

Back to the basics – 2014 Preview

While I haven’t had a chance to “backblog” and catch up my blog on the 2nd half of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, I’ve got to start somewhere.  The good news for readers is that we have A LOT to catch up on.  And a lot to look forward to in the next few months.

Just give me two days back in school and reading to procrastinate on to give me a reason to blog…

Certainly the best news of 2013 was that I’m Engaged! And I can’t wait to write a full post on the “Engagement” for sure.  The month since the engagement included some planning, CHRISTMAS + New Years, finishing Downton Abbey Season 3 (obviously) and a road trip to Gulfport by way of Atlanta and Destin Beach.  In what I called our “engagement-moon” Jay and I went to the beach and spent a week in Gulfport doing what we do best…cooking, cuddling and maybe a little cleaning.  We sure are exciting, huh? Oh yea, and a gorgeous day spent in New Orleans to boot.

Girl + her Boy

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Boys (plural)

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And after two Daiquiri filled weekends…it was back to the grind.

Back to school, back to work, back to cooking for 1 and back to the Gym! Jay and I enjoyed some beautiful runs and beach walks…but my body is dying to get back to Crossfit 757.  Tomorrow is the day!  In other news, I started a Whole Life Challenge last week, in hopes of getting back on track after indulging (in JOY) over the holidays.  Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed every day of my month off and was sure to keep myself in track enough to to fall into a poor mental health state.  But with a wedding on the horizon, I cannot afford to gain back the 10, yes 10 pounds I trimmed (read = turned into lean muscle mass) in 2013.  So its back to lifting, to running (maybe another 1/2 marathon in the fall?) and to paleo-ish home cooking!

Here’s whats on the menu this week:

PaleOMG’s (Almost) 5 Ingredient Spaghetti Pie – This has been trending like no other! I had to try.  Added canned diced tomatoes and mushrooms to mine + Italian turkey sausage.  I also used fresh basil which is a HUGE flavor boost.

PaleOMG’s Pumpkin Cream Chicken Casserole

And last but not least a sweet treat to use up some overripe bananas that were CALLING to me from the fruit bowl: Civilized Caveman’s Paleo Banana Bread.

You can’t go wrong with PaleOMG or Civilized Caveman and it is no coincidence that they are joining forces to release a joint cookbook this year, sounds like a blog book review to me!

And for the rest of MY year, here’s a few things I have to look forward to every month to make these last few months as a “single-lady” worthwhile!

January – engage-moon, Gulfport vacay (done and done)…and I think that’s it [MBA classes start day one, not even a syllabus week to look forward to!]

February – Last goodbye to my Jay before I send him off to Cambodia BUT I do have something fun planned for Valentine’s Day 😉 And a bridal show with the Mother of the Bride on the 23rd

March – Spring break, a must needed weekend in D.C. and hopefully some dress shopping!

April –  Wedding Planning [Charlottesville 10 Miler], Bridal Shower?

May – Exams + Brother’s Graduation (wahhhh!!) + 1 week at the beach [Elizabeth River Run]

June – Summer Session 1 plus Beach Week part dos [likely CHKD run/walk for kids]

July – Summer Session 2, nothing to look forward to here 😦 More wedding planning?

August – HE COMES HOME (no more explanation needed)

September – Engagement Party + Final details aka confirming that job relocation I am praying for!

October – CHILL and enjoy engaged life + Fall Break

November – Last minute touches AND IT’S SHOW TIME 11.15.14

December – Graduating (Mrs. MBA to you) and Moving!

I’ll be adding little details here and there to update my year in progress but I’ll leave you with that little skeleton for tonight.

And just in case you needed some cuteness in your life today like I did, I will share a picture of my spontaneous “Golden Meet-Up” today featuring Miss Madison Host, an old man male Golden, and a BABY Golden.

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Henderson Park Inn – Photo Dump Style

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We found this “Inn” just by luck, or just by a last minute reservation an Trip Advisor search.  My one job on our drive to Atlanta was to find a place to stay the following night, and let’s be honest – I have fine tastes…and an incredible Fiance who also appreciates the finer things in life.  Let me just say that they did not disappoint and certainly know customer service.  For anyone interested, winter rates start November 1st! Just in time to soak up some of those late fall rays.  Happy Hour was certainly not too good to be true as I was kind of expecting.  All you can drink beer, wine + specialty drinks (Margaritas night one and Daiqiris night two).  Made to order breakfast included, along with plenty of entertainment in the form of a gorgeous deck with heaters, firepit, hammock’s and DVDs to borrow.  Our only complaint was the SUPER cold tile floor (I guess they haven’t added the heated floors yet, DARN) but they are renovating this month.   Looking forward to (hopefully) returning for a mini-moon in November with my future husband!

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welcome “basket”

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Happy Hour

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Loving Life with the Love of my Life

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Firepit

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Sunset

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LOVE

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too beautiful for words

A little bit of this week…

Greetings from Gulfport!! Lots of life to fill in on this blog after losing over six months of posts…but I am brushing my knees off and jumping back into it – here comes 2014!

Christmas and New Year’s went by far too swiftly and with a GREAT deal of excitement.

Now I am trying hard not to think about being in class exactly one week from tonight…instead of cuddled up on the couch with the one I love.

Back in August I went back to school to pursue my Master’s full time, after a year long hiatus.  I left an invigorating, challenging, 24/7 job that I really excelled in…to a part-time position in Human Resource with a very flexible boss.  My roots at T. Parker Host started in Accounting, and I consider this “stint” in HR to be a similar experience.  It is extremely convenient for where I am currently in my life and I am getting to learn about a portion of the business that most upper level manager do not even dabble in.  After all, our PEOPLE are our greatest asset.  Human Resources is about ensuring that (1) we recruit only the best and the brightest, (2) we give them the tools to succeed and grow with us and (3) we hold onto our top talent for the duration of their careers.  Currently we are undergoing major strategic human resource planning and I look forward to being part of that first phase of implementation in the next few months…

Personally, this flexibility has been a gift over these last few months.  Jay is going on a six month long deployment in February, and due to my “boss’s” flexibility I have been able to spend a lot of time with him.  Three weeks in August, a few days in October and November, and now another three weeks with him before my classes start again.

We took the long way from Norfolk to Atlanta and arrived in Gulfport on Sunday afternoon and settled into a routine.  Lots of cooking and cuddling, with a few errands and TV thrown in here and there.  After the holidays we were both feeling the need to get some whole, clean food back in us.  I kid you not we ate Christmas cookies for a meal or two here and there, not to mention the pancake breakfasts we had come accustomed to.

Jay’s sister Margaret gave me the “Primal Cravings” cookbook for Christmas, so we dove in head first!

On the menu this week:

Thai Chili Chicken Pork Meatballs + Asparagus

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Cuban Burgers with Plantain “Buns”

Cowboy Hash

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We’ll see how our renditions measure up to these beautiful pictures…but if the past is any indication of the future, we will certainly not be disappointed!  Jay and I are quite the pair in the kitchen, and we truly enjoy cooking at home over going out almost any night 🙂 Posting about our meal planning this week reminds me of the tons of pictures yet to be posted on this blog of my California trip, which means lots and lots to come for #TBT posts.  stay tuned!