The Daily

The truth about (not) catching up

February 2, 2016
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Happy 2016! (I realize it’s February now and I’m just getting around to saying that.) To address the elephant in the virtual room, I’ve been a little MIA. Let’s just cut to the chase and I can tell you why. There are a couple of reasons.

First, holy busy.

I squeezed so much into the last part of 2015 that I can’t even remember it all. Aside from the normal holiday madness, I was back and forth between Ithaca and Michigan – spending the last month of the year in Michigan. Which is great! Except… packing. Oh yeah, and we made a little temporary move to Australia at the beginning of January so I had to pack and prepare for that months in advance. We’re here and it’s beautiful and warm and wonderful, but more on that later. The prep work left me not much energy for blogging.

Second, being present.

Knowing I would be gone for three months, I wanted to soak up all the time I could with my friends and family. That’s typically the M.O. for holiday time anyway, but I wanted to be extra intentional about spending time with people I wouldn’t see for a while. So I soaked them in and left you guys out. Sorry about that. (I’m actually not sorry about that.)

Lastly, principle. And maybe some fear?

The past months (and probably years) have been a time of tremendous change. It’s been constant adjustment – and then readjustment. I realize what it looks like from the outside – I have traveled the world with a handsome man with whom I share my name; I work from home in my pajamas every day for a company that is both supportive and driven; I have the cutest pup on the planet (okay maybe that’s biased); I still have time to do some work that further fulfills my passions while drinking what seems like a constant stream of coffee and/or wine; and I have very limited responsibilities in the grand scheme of things. It’s spontaneous and adventurous and flat out lucky. And I am so aware of the blessings this life has dropped in my lap (and those I’ve worked hard for as well). But let me tell you, all of that wonderfulness has its side of struggles and I’ve been feeling those – and probably licking my wounds in the corner a bit.c29cd59d66a1e3ca6cc6149069a55a92

Adventure = constant change. And that can be unsettling, especially for someone like me who likes to nest just as much as she likes to explore. I’ve had to make a lot of decisions about my life at a pace that is a little uncomfortable for me – and that can be daunting and scary and lonely.

So why has this pulled me away from this little corner of the internet that I call my own? Because the world today is full of people putting their best face first on their blogs, Instagram accounts, Facebook – whatever. On principle, I don’t want to be part of that machine that only churns out the good. Yes, life is beautiful. But it’s also an effing mess. And mine is no exception.

I’ve taken a little time to just focus on myself and not worry about keeping everyone else up with the latest happenings. Yes, I’ve been working and living and creating – but I’ve also been thinking and praying and soul-searching – and I wasn’t sure I was ready to share that process yet. And it didn’t feel authentic to act like all is only grand and lovely. There’s enough of that already – it’s not an expectation I want to perpetuate.4bd70dd736013868f78cecd45060b39071d536c53f58a88eee7a21d5e42a65025df2ff77444077ebb626399576b736df-611x611

Now let’s look forward. I’ve been late/nervous/confused on formulating my 2016 goals into pretty, concise packages, but I think I’m getting closer to nailing those down now and figuring out how they fit into what I really want out of life. That sounds like an enormously daunting task but I am going to heed the advice of one of my very best ladyfriends: You eat an elephant one bite at a time. I’m just settling into being okay with lots of pieces that don’t necessarily look like they fit together yet.

Thanks for following along – even if there’s been a lull. As we all are, I’m doing the best I can.

Intentional Life

I Did It! {A Detroit Half Marathon Recap}

November 1, 2015
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Two weeks ago today I crossed the finish line from running 13.1 miles through two different countries, two major cities, and my own expectations. At the risk of typing the longest post ever, I’ll save what I learned through the process of training and finishing for later. In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of the final race prep through the last steps – and beyond to the gluttonous calories I convinced myself I deserved. :)

The week of the race I was doing my best to fuel my body with yummy, nutritious food — and a little food for my soul, too. Smoothies, juice, veggies, and a little extra protein were my go-to’s along with some Yogi tea (my favorite not only because of the strong flavor, but because of the little inspirational messages!) Having just come off a ten mile run the weekend before, I was trying to put myself in the best mental and physical place possible.

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IMG_7547 The Saturday before the race Meg and I headed downtown to pick up our packets and trot around the health and fitness expo. We signed in and got our bibs which had little tracker stickers on the back so people could follow you while you ran. I didn’t really know what to expect at this pre-event but I did know I was going to need to purchase at least one extra layer for the morning run – it was going to be freeeezing!

I ended up walking out with two long sleeved running tops and a loose scarf-like thing to wear around my head and neck, especially at the beginning. I got great deals on all of them so yay for that! I had already bought some gloves and a thick headband so I went home to try everything on and make sure I was good to go for race day.

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I headed over to Meghan’s around 7 o’clock  that evening to carb it up and relax with Angie and baby Eva. Angie had flown in from Portland on Friday and we were so pumped to have her there for the race, but also just for the hang time and catching up we all needed. We had a big meal (half provided by a spaghetti dinner from earlier in the day and half made at the house) of pasta, meatballs, chicken burgers, butternut squash, and salad. We talked out our plan for the morning, watched Eva clomp around in my running shoes, and settled in around 11 for our 4:30 AM wake up call.

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IMG_7610The morning of the race, I rolled over on my bed (well, futon) to shut off my alarm, only to see Angie bounding around the corner carrying a steaming mug. She set the hot cider and a motivational bible verse on the ottoman-turned-bedside-table. I read the verse from her phone (Hebrews 12:1) as the smell of coffee and eggs wafted in. I think I could get used to waking up early if it’s as peaceful as that!

screen-shot-2014-06-02-at-2-10-48-pmAs a marathoner herself, Angie was a great source of information and inspiration throughout the entire training process, especially to Meghan. But her support was never more apparent than the morning of the race. Meghan and I share an intense love of sleep so we were not particularly excited about the early morning but Angie had us totally taken care of. In addition to waking us up, she made our breakfast (and even re-made my sunny side up eggs when she thought they weren’t runny enough the first time even though they were totally fine!), made sure we had enough energy, protein, and caffeine; gave us a pep talk, and helped us gather our stuff and kept our extra clothes to change into post-race.

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IMG_7819Meg and I got downtown at about 6:25 and dropped our gear off before the 7 AM start. And Holy. Cold. The past week had been really nice and mild but the morning of the race was hovering just about 32 degrees. In fact, as we were getting started and running under the start line it was actually snowing a bit!

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IMG_9252The eight mile mark was right as the route came out of the tunnel back into the U.S.. I was feeling pretty good at this point – I was keeping a decent pace and the only real uphill climbs were over… and they weren’t bad at all! Going up the incline of the bridge, I ran by a man who was on a bike that he powered with his arms. His legs were no longer functioning – obviously from some condition or accident – and he was doing the whole thing with his arms! I was so inspired by seeing him climb that hill as escorts biked around him and other runners cheered him on. Of course, when the downhill came he whizzed past all of us, cheering us on.

When I came out of the tunnel (which was by far the warmest I had been in the last hour and a half), there was a little surprise waiting for me! Bryan had opted to stay in New York for some prior school commitments while I ran, but when I turned the corner, there he was! He was standing with his family and had my camera and a big smile. He captured the moment of me being both surprised, happy, tired, cold, and trying to take my sweatshirt off my waist to give to them. That was definitely fueled me for the next couple miles!

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IMG_9263And then… the finish line.

Meg and I had run part of the course the week before and she told me where I would be able to think “okay, just one mile left!” I was feeling pretty good and was able to pick it up a bit at the end, resulting in negative splits. Looking back, I likely could have pushed myself harder throughout but not sure what to expect and trying to conserve my energy, I held back until the last couple of miles. At the end I was out of breath and my feet were aching a bit but otherwise feeling amazing.

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I was greeted by my family (and Bryan’s) at the finish line where we recapped the race and I downed some water and some pieces of cider mill donuts. I was so happy to have people to meet me at the finish line – even for my first race and being largely non-competitive, I can see how much the cheering and support of people – especially people you love – can really push you through.

Next we met up with Angie so I could change clothes and we went on a quest for Meghan to cheer her along the route. Our first attempt was around mile 17 in a charming historic district of Detroit called Indian Village. Grand, old homes and beautiful fall trees line the street. One family had set up a brunch-type bar and invited us to help ourselves. Initially we hesitated but then indulged. They had set up the cutest spread complete with a bloody mary and mimosa bar. (My m om totally went for the champagne while telling me she thought this was so great and she wants to run one… and drink champagne… next year.) I opted for a cup of hot coffee and some cinnamon rolls (a great second course to my donuts) as we figured out we had likely missed Meg. We headed back to the car to catch her at another point, my dad talking about the stromboli the whole time.

Not sure we’d done the math right, we ended up just heading toward the finish line to try to catch Meg. At first we thought we’d somehow missed her again, but after checking the app and re-doing the math, we realized we’d done it wrong the first time and she was about ten minutes out.

And then we spotted her orange shirt rounding the corner on the home stretch!

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And just like that, we were done! 13.1 miles for me and 26.2 for her. Here are some highlights from the overall race:

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The rest of race day and the next couple were spent indulging in food, friends, and family.

We headed to Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub downtown after the race to meet Meghan’s parents and some other supporters. I happily slammed a grilled cheese sandwich, onion rings, and two Bloody Marys while we chatted and our muscles stiffened.

IMG_7639I went home and took a long bath with a good book. Walking down the stairs was a little rough on the night of, but I was pleasantly surprised with how my body recovered from my longest run to date. Maybe I’m looking back with rose-colored glasses now, but I definitely expected worse.

The following days were spend eating pizza at my favorite Royal Oak spot, Bigalora, with Eva the Explorer; slurping second helpings of coffee ice cream out of bowls for late night snacks; and spending some quality time with Meghan’s parents who invited us to their home for pasta, salad, and vino. We happily obliged. Also, speaking of those Brennans, Meghan ended up raising over $17,500 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research which. is. awesome.

IMG_7651 IMG_7655                IMG_7812 IMG_78675All in all, my first half marathon was a smashing success. The goal was just to finish and I did just that. I wasn’t all that concerned about my time but I did beat the pace I’d anticipated by a little bit so that was a bonus!

More than anything, I realized that if I train and prepare, I can do anything. And my body (and mind) are stronger than I think. I am strong and capable and can rely on myself to set a goal and complete it… but it’s much more fun with my friends and support system along the way.

Cheers to the next one! :)

Intentional Life

Three More Days: A Training Recap

October 15, 2015
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I can’t believe I set out to achieve this goal over three months ago and now here I sit, three days away from the main event. When I first decided to do this, I really wasn’t sure if I could – and to be honest, it still hasn’t happened yet so I don’t want to get too overconfident, but I should start by saying I am so much further down the road in believing.

When I first posted about this goal, my training schedule looked like this (and our fridge was in Dallas)…

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….and now it looks like this (in Ithaca).

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That is a lot of running, walking, yoga-ing, and overall preparing. And I can look back and say I did all of that.

I’ve run alone, with friends, and with music; on trails, up hills, on roads, and on tredmills; I’ve run in the scorching heat and the cool fall morning. And it feels really, really great. If for some reason I couldn’t run in the actual race, I already feel like I have had a new experience and learned a lot about myself just through the process. I feel stronger.

Here are some of the highlights and motivations from the last couple months…

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There is something to be said for jumping in and letting curiosity take over – even when you don’t feel ‘ready’. When are we ever really ready for anything??

Mondays after long runs were “stretch + strengthen” days. In my book, that means yoga. Since we were bopping around all summer and the only studio I’ve ever felt any sort of connection to was back in Michigan (which is neither of the states in which we were living), I had to make do on my own. I actually discovered a newfound love for the ability to quickly transform a room of my house into a yoga space. In Dallas, it was the living room – in New York, it’s my office. Usually this happens at night or in the morning when I’m ready for some calm. I found the winning combination of “Yoga Workout Radio” on Pandora (which is not tooooo weirdly zen and has some yoga-fied versions of popular songs) and Yoga By Candace, a YouTube channel where yogi Candace walks through different flows. She has different durations with different focuses – there’s not a ton of videos but every one I have done so far, I’ve liked! I light some candles, turn on my computer, and get down to business. Namaste.

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One other thing I loved was all of the different scenery, creatures, and life I got to experience. From the flat trails of Texas complete with snakes (just little garden ones) to the hills of Ithaca and back to the urban landscape of downtown Detroit, I was never hurting for a good view. Some of my most favorite moments to take in were running through an arboretum on campus or down by the water on Cayuga Lake. The air was so fresh and there was so much green around. And lots of creatures!  (The deer on Cornell’s campus might as well be students – they walk right along side people with no fear.)

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I made a solid attempt to get some gear to support my mission, but this one is still TBD. Bryan got me a Garmin 225 for my birthday and I was really excited! Except it’s almost too fancy. And the battery died all the time. And truth be told, I don’t know if I’m ready for all the bells and whistles. I want a fitness tracker but also want a GPS-enabled watch. Bad news – they don’t really have any good ones out there. I’m in the process of evaluating whether I should get one, the other, or a combination of the two. And spoiler alert: all of the colors are black or terrible. I’m looking at you, Garmin.

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One other highlight was the unwavering support. Let’s be honest, sometimes it was in the form of coffee, but mostly my most trusted confidantes became my biggest cheerleaders. Sometimes you need someone else to push you when you can’t push yourself and I never doubted I could reach out for that extra motivation. Also, I’m amazed at how many people had experience training for something like this! It was definitely a good topic of conversation and I loved hearing about different peoples’ experiences and learning from their tips.

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I also felt a huge shift in my relationship with myself in a way I didn’t expect. That feels very Carrie Bradshaw of me to say, but it’s true. I am proud of the way my body is feeling – stronger and more able. Not just from a size + shape standpoint, but I feel cleaner, healthier, and more in tune with my body. It is strong and beautiful. It is mine.

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I ran ten miles last weekend – the furthest I have ever run in my life. Before that, I can only remember running up to 6. And you know what? I liked it. It felt good. Sure it was hard and hurt a little bit, but I think the hardest part of this whole thing was just getting up the courage to start. Once I made that decision it was just taking it one step at a time without looking back — stacking one small goal on top of the another to reach this point. I stopped wishing and started doing.

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Surely there are many more challenges waiting for me in life, but I hope I can walk away from all of them with this look on my face. ^^

See you this weekend for 13.1!

Love & Family, Travel & Adventures

Anniversary Number Two: NYC and Other Things

October 7, 2015
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I finally had some time to go through photos from a little surprise trip we took to NYC for our anniversary and I want to go back already!

Bryan had planned for us to head to the city for the weekend but didn’t tell me until we were laying in bed Thursday night when he asked, “Can you take off work tomorrow?” With the busy week I’d had and a pressing deadline on Friday, the answer was no way, Jose. But he persisted. “What about a half day?” “Can you leave early?” Finally I was like WHAT is going on and he gave in and told me the plan. NYC for the weekend. Just the two of us. And Marley.

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I had been thinking and dreaming about going to the city since we got back to Ithaca. It’s so vibrant and full of life and I feel like we should take advantage of exploring since we’re close. Also, Bryan and I haven’t spent much time there together so this would be a great opportunity to do that.

After what turned out to be almost a full day of work, we jumped in the car and four hours later were greeted by a cute little boutique hotel Bryan had booked. I’m much more inspired and interested in the decor than B is but he totally nailed it. Something I probably wouldn’t have thought to put together myself but the room was a nice mix of contemporary clean lines, metallics, and hot pink. Marley adjusted quite nicely.       IMG_7007

Next on the list was food, naturally. We had listened to a podcast about sushi on the way up so we were both craving it. After first ducking into a place that had great Yelp reviews but smelled like a frat house, we opted for MEW – a cozy basement Japanese eatery nestled in Midtown. It had an eclectic vibe and pretty good sushi – and most of all, it was quieter than the frat house. The rest of the night was spent walking around the city, holding hands, and smooching in Bryant Park like idiots in love. (Did I say the “rest of the night”? Because I totally meant until 11:30 when we realized we’re old, full, and tired from driving and needed to go to bed.) Alas, it was wonderful.    IMG_7016 IMG_7042IMG_7030

Day 2 started with a subway ride (and obligatory selfie) down to the West Village where we had brunch at a cute little French spot, Cafe Cluny. The coffee was hot and the food was good. They had some interesting combinations and I ended up with an omelet although I was very tempted by the highly regarded french toast. If we go back, I think I will splurge my calories on that.

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We walked off our brunch meandering through the West Village (stopping to admire the exterior of Carrie Bradshaw’s adorable apartment) and headed over to the 9/11 museum and reflecting pools.

I had heard mixed reviews on the experience but I found it to be really touching. We didn’t have to wait long to get in and even bought our tickets online while we waited so we were able to skip the first line. One thing I will say is that I wish I would have known more about the different parts of the museum. It’s pretty new, well done, beautiful inside, and virtually underground. However the first part of the museum seems to be all about the architecture and pieces of the building left behind. We got tourist-y and bought headphones to listen to the (free) app as we walked through. There was definitely interesting content worth seeing, but I found the most impactful part to be the Historical Exhibition. By the time we got to that part we had already been there a couple of hours (35 minutes of which we waited to see an ‘immersive’ video that I found to be not worth the wait). But once we were inside the exhibition, I was enthralled with the artifacts and details of that terrible day. They did a really great job explaining the technicalities of the buildings, planes, government, etc. and mixing them with human stories. I left having felt anger, sadness, and pride and love for our country and the human race. There were a couple of tears for all of those things. Overall, I would definitely recommend.

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After our emotional morning we headed over to Greenwich Village for something a little lighter. A family friend, Paul, lives in NYC as a distributor for a major beer company and frequently attends bars “on business”. (What a gig, right?) He just happened to be watching college football and representing his company at a fun little place called Down the Hatch. We met up with him there and what started out to be a “let’s just stop by and see Paul” turned into about 5 beers and college football rowdiness which actually ended up being a great time!

We finished off our night with an authentic Italian dinner at John’s (recommended by a friend, who also joined us for beers and football) as an homage to our Italian honeymoon. We had planned for this to be the romantic outing but we were buzzed and starving. Either way, it was delicious and a total blast. Carpe diem!

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We wanted to be on the road late morning Sunday so Bryan could get back for some other commitments, but not before we took Marley for one last NYC experience. We walked through the city, ending up in Central Park where we ate breakfast we had picked up on the way. It was quaint and peaceful and Marley was in squirrel heaven.

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Our actual anniversary wasn’t until Monday and Bryan had told me not to get him anything since he had gotten something for the both of us, but I had a little surprise of my own. Luckily, Bryan forgets every year that this is a recurring gift so it actually is the gift that keeps on giving. Remember the book that I gave him on our first anniversary of dating? And then again every anniversary after that? Starting last year I switched the date to our first anniversary of marriage and re-gift him the same book. Well it reappeared this year, this time with my musings in pink. I love, love, love to watch his face every year as he realizes he has yet again forgotten about this gift but then gets to read all about why I love him.

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And then we went and got ice cream to celebrate, of course. :)

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One other thing we want to try to do (which we totally forgot about last year) is to watch our wedding video. This definitely takes me back to that wonderful day when we said “I do.” It’s been a fun, adventurous, challenging, great two years and I continue to feel luckier that I have such a supportive, kind, caring man by my side to do life with. I love you, Bryan. Now and always. Happy two years and cheers to many more!

Food & Drink

Goat Cheese, Basil, and Apricot Stuffed Chicken

September 23, 2015
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I have a new favorite easy, yummy, unique recipe from my Racing Weight Cookbook and I neeeeed to share it with you.

I made this on a Monday for our anniversary because it’s delicious – but let’s face it, it was still Monday. Not the greatest for an intense, time consuming meal. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it lacks in flavor!

The skinny of it is this: Chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs), goat cheese, fresh basil, dried apricots, salt and pepper.

Mix the filling first. Goat cheese (this was about 4 oz. – the original recipe called for 2 oz. but this wasn’t a case of “less is more” and since we were celebrating, I doubled the yummy-ness), diced dried apricots (about 8), shredded basil (12 leaves or so), and a little salt and pepper.IMG_7118

Slice open the chicken. This is the gross part but you gotta do it.IMG_7119

Stuff it. (And secure with a toothpick if you need to.)IMG_7121

Put the chicken breasts on a pan covered in parchment paper with a drizzle (or spray) of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.IMG_7122

Cover loosely with foil and put it in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes. Then switch to broil for about 4 minutes so the outside gets a little brown.IMG_7125

Put it on a plate. (With some canned veggies – oops. Told ya I wanted to go simple!)IMG_7156

Cut it open and admire it’s delectable goodness.IMG_7160_cover

Chow down.

This easy combination has me itching to try others – I just may swap out some ingredients to match my sweet or savory mood. Definitely a keeper!

Food & Drink

Easy Clean Green Smoothie

September 9, 2015
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It’s been unseasonably hot in Ithaca the past couple of weeks and I’ve been getting into some higher distances in my training regimen. That, and having access to my Vitamix again, has been the perfect mix to up my smoothie game.

I’ve long been a lover of fruit smoothies and there was a time I was eating them religiously for breakfast. But in an effort to get more greens in my diet and amp up my nutrients while cutting back on sugar, I’ve been going green.

Sometimes green smoothies can taste a little grassy, but this is one of my favorites that’s simple, easy, and really tasty.

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Spinach, kale, banana, apple, lemon juice, honey, and vanilla protein. I have made variations of this, but these are the base ingredients.

Put a couple handfuls of spinach + kale, one banana, the juice of one lemon, a whole apple (with the core cut out), a tablespoon of honey, and one scoop of vanilla protein all in the Vitamix with some ice cubes. Blend and blend until it’s smooth and creamy.

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Some smoothie making tips that can help you mix and match what’s in your fridge or freezer…

  1. Add something acidic. This will take away the potentially grassy taste of your veggie ingredients. In this case, both the apple and lemon juice take care of this, cutting the “green” flavor and adding a hint of sweet.
  2. Bananas = creaminess. Aside from their flavor, the texture is what really makes this healthy drink smooth and creamy. For a thicker smoothie, freeze your bananas ahead of time (out of the peel) and drop them in.
  3. Honey is nature’s sweetener. Some of the ingredients have natural fructose but for a little sweetener, use honey. It’s a natural sweetener and the texture acts as a binding agent.
  4. Frozen fruit can replace ice. As I mentioned, a frozen banana equals a thicker smoothie. This can be done with many other fruits in place of ice. As the smoothie melts, it also won’t get watered down as it might if you use a bunch of ice. Although, be careful – sometimes frozen fruit can be hard on a blender. Let it sit out for ten minutes or so before blending to keep your kitchen appliances lasting longer.
  5. A ripe banana is crucial. Is it just me or is it really hard to buy a ripe banana? I feel like I’m constantly buying them at some level of green and waiting for them to ripen and then quickly incorporating them into everything before they go bad. Nothing will ruin the taste of a smoothie like an under-ripe banana so to prepare, buy in bulk and freeze when they’re at prime ripeness. Peel and place in a Ziploc bag or container and leave them in your freezer until they’re ready to use. You will always have a ripe banana! This has saved me a couple of times this week alone.

IMG_6653I’ve got a 4.5 mile run planned for tomorrow morning and I can’t wait to come back and mix this up. Smooth, sweet, creamy, healthy goodness. Enjoy!!

Portfolio

An Infographic for a Cause

August 25, 2015
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The Detroit half marathon is less than sixty days away which means longer runs, tired feet, and sore muscles. My longest run has been five miles so far, coming up on six this weekend. But just when it feels like it’s getting challenging, I think  about my friend – the one that motivated me into this whole thing in the first place – and what’s motivating her.

Meghan and I became friends a few years ago (three? four?) and had an instant bond, but our friendship has deepened over the last couple of years. We enjoy many of the same things – yoga, running, reading, tea, coffee, naps, dogs – the essentials. She has long been a source of inspiration and motivation for me in faith and fitness and can always be counted on to stand beside me and push through either a tough workout – or a tough day.

When she decided to sign up for the Detroit Marathon (yep, the full 26.2) it was both a physical and faithful challenge for her, but the driving force was much deeper than wanting to check something off her bucket list. You see, in addition to her love of dogs and naps and coffee, she’s also a highly passionate philanthropist, always aiming to better the lives of others and do what she can to help. Rarely does she seek a challenge or put significant effort towards something without thinking how someone else can benefit from it as well.

This time, it’s her mom.

Mrs. Brennan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a couple of years ago, and since then, it has been a cause near to Meghan’s heart. Having always wanted to run a marathon, Meg was able to take that goal and multiply it… a thousand times. She asked me to help in her quest to raise $26.2K for Parkinson’s Research by coming up with a clever, graphical way to share her story, educate people about Parkinson’s Disease, and motivate others to come along side her in this goal.

I’ll let the infographic tell you the rest…

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It’s safe to say I think Meghan is awesome. I continue to be moved by the idea that she is finding strength and perseverance in her own mind and body — when that is exactly the biggest struggle for her mom and others with Parkinson’s. It will take many able bodies to help those whose are slipping away from them.

So I invite you to come along side me in supporting Meg on her mission. Not only do I want to showcase my digital design work, but even more than that, I want my friend to reach her goal and her mom to have an opportunity to benefit from treatment that isn’t even around yet.

You can help in a couple of different ways. Obviously, the finances are a huge part of this. To donate to Meg’s (growing!) GoFundMe page and follow her progress, CLICK HERE.

Whether you’re supporting her in her quest to run a really long way, were touched by her story, know someone else with PD, want to support me in my efforts to run half of a really long way, or you’re just a very nice person, please know your hard-earned cash will be going to a good person with a good heart for a good cause.

There are other ways you can support as well. Leave a comment, send an email or Facebook message, say a prayer, or show up on October 18th at the finish line. I will be there, sweaty and tired, to celebrate with Meghan and her mom as they complete one challenge and look ahead to tackling another.

Go Meg!! You have put in the work and I can’t wait to see it pay off. I am proud to call you a friend.

 

Food & Drink

Carrot + Cremini Mushroom Soup

August 19, 2015
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This is the first (and so far, admittedly, the only) recipe I’ve tried from my new Racing Weight cookbook that I got in an effort to counterbalance the energy I was expending on 1/2 marathon training and fueling myself with yummy nutritious food.

I picked a good recipe to start with. Even though it’s categorized under “The Athlete that Loves to Cook”,  thought it was pretty simple. (The other options in the book are: “The Athlete that Doesn’t Cook” or “The Athlete with Some Cooking Experience”, if that’s more your style.) And also, I had all of the equipment I needed in our not-so-well-equipped Dallas kitchen, so this was a go.

Also, even though it’s vegetarian, there’s a ton of flavor in the simple ingredients — so you non-meat lovers can enjoy, too!!

Here’s the skinny. (Pun sort of intended.)…

Carrots. Chop. Garlic. Mince. Boil in broth until tender.

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Mushrooms and shallot. Slice and brown while carrots are tender-ing.

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Carrots/garlic goes into a food processor. Deliberately disobey said food processor by filling way above the liquid max fill line. Prepare paper towels when it overflows a bit. :/

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Plate your soup and top it with the browned mushrooms and shallots. Salt and pepper. Grab some wine. Or in my case, Pellegrino because I was still trying to be fancy yet sober. Voila!! Seriously it’s that easy – and hearty for a simple veg dish. Bryan even loved this one and asked when it was coming around again!

Enjoy!

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Carrot & Cremini Mushroom Soup
From the Racing Weight Cookbook by Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear
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Ingredients

4 cloves garlic
1 pound carrots, sliced
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large shallot, halved lengthwise and sliced
salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Combine garlic, carrots, and broth in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes or until carrots are very tender.
  2. Transfer mixture to blender and add sour cream. Cover and puree until completely smooth. Return to pot and keep warm over low heat.
  3. In a medium pan, combine oil and butter over medium-high heat and then add mushrooms and shallot. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring over low heat for 10-15 minutes, until mushrooms are browned and soft.
  4. Stir mushroom mixture into carrot soup and serve hot.
Portfolio

6 Months of James

July 13, 2015
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Happy half birthday to baby James!

I can’t believe he has graced this world with his dimples for six whole months now. It feels like just yesterday he was fresh and new and Lauren (James’ mom) and I were sitting in her hospital room reveling in the amazing (and slightly terrifying) journey of parenthood before her.

A week or so later, Lauren asked me to take a few photos of James while he was still in his newborn glory. I has happy to play around with my camera and confident that I could give her something halfway decent with such a cute subject.

I think we delivered. Here are some of my favorites:

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And one more I couldn’t help but draw some props in! 😉 Madison, James’ dad, is a hunter/gatherer type. Fly fishing to be exact. We rallied up some of his gear and surrounded James with some of his dad’s manly things.

And then we realized Madison’s shoes were way bigger than a baby human.

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James, you have been a joy to watch. I love seeing your smiles and how happy you make your mom and dad. You are on quite an adventure and you are lucky to have two solid people leading you through life.

I will be excited to get back to Ithaca together so we can resume our napping routine. I’m sure you’ve grown a lot so we may need to adjust accordingly. Tell your mom if she wants to crack open a bottle of wine, I’m in for that too.

For the next six months (and beyond), may your tantrums be short and your naps be long. And don’t worry about that belly – you’ll totally grow into it.

Love from Dallas!

Intentional Life, The Daily

So I’m Going to Run a Half

July 8, 2015
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I have had a long standing love/hate relationship with running. As a former collegiate athlete, it was a necessary evil. I found some enjoyment in running for leisure, stress relief, and general activity post-college but it was mostly born from the desire to be a somewhat fit and active person.

I’ve consistently found myself in fast-twitch team sports that require bursts of energy until a point is scored and then you re-set. Namely, volleyball. In retrospect, I have shyed away from endurance sports and individual ones and have put my days of organized competition behind me altogether.

Then this happened.

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Don’t get me wrong, I did it to myself. No one forced me – I signed up on my very own. But let me say it now: I have officially registered for the Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon. One big fat individual endurance race is staring me in the face for the slim entry fee of 115 dollars.

This crazy idea started when one of my best girlfriends declared she would be running her first marathon in Detroit this October. I have other ambitious people around me that run, jump, and climb through challenges – mountains, marathons, triathlons, and crossfit competitions. Although I admire their strength and tenacity, I’ve never quite built up the desire (or endurance, let’s be honest) to run 13 miles – let alone 26. I was okay watching these superhuman feats from the sidelines.

But then something happened. As I watched other people embrace these challenges, I started to feel the need to prove something to myself. I was in a little bit of a rut and wasn’t feeling like the vibrant, strong, loyal, courageous woman I desire to be – and that needed to change.  Through the encouragement of some friends, I started to feel motivated, challenged, and even convicted to put myself to the test. I need to prove to myself that I can do what I thought I couldn’t.

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Truly, I never imagined myself even caring to run a long distance race. I am perfectly happy putting in the three or four miles on the tredmill or around the neighborhood to keep my blood flowing. But this is a different obstacle with deeper meaning and I am going to boldly choose to walk through it and learn the strength of my own body.

So I started pre-training – just like that. I literally woke up one day and thought ‘here we go’.

It helps to have someone along on the journey (even if they are running double the distance!) and those who have been there before to learn from, share tips with, commiserate with, and encourage each other. Meg found me a (beginner) training plan and I tracked back on the calendar to find the start of my “official” training. (July 27th.) But in the meantime, I have to figure out how to go from casually walking Marley after work to being in decent enough shape not to die while training for this thing.

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Three miles three times a week. That’s the formula right now.

I started a few weeks ago and in the beginning I was having a hard time. Just the thought of three miles sounded a little daunting. Add on the Texas heat, and I was in trouble.

Luckily there is a shaded trail behind our house and if I can avoid the peak sunny hours, it’s doable. Bryan went with me on the first couple runs and I think I asked him to slow down like thirty times…per run. For me, it’s not about how fast I go – it’s about making it to the finish line. And I’ve been keeping track of my activity on some giant handmade Post-It calendars on the fridge. It keeps me on track and reminds me every day of the work I have already put in.

The number one piece of advice I got was to get good shoes. I have a pair of trail running shoes and another pair of lightweight Adidas that I like to wear when I walk but after my first couple runs with them, I felt like I needed more support.

Enter: my new running kicks!

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I would be lying to say I wasn’t excited to purchase some true running shoes (in hopes they might make it easier – or at least more fun!) and I was prepared to drop a couple bucks on something good.

I went to a running store in Dallas and one of the expert gentlemen assessed my foot by looking at the bottom of my shoes and watching me walk back and forth through the store. Turns out I have a neutral foot – with a little pronation on my left side. (Remember that climbing fall I took a couple months ago? I think I have been subconsciously nursing that ankle – the guy at RunOn! totally called me out for doing all the work with my right foot. Noted.)

I tried on a couple pairs that were good for a neutral foot – another pair of Adidas, a Saucony, and the Brooks Glycerin. This last one was most comfortable for me by far so I rung ’em up and took ’em home! (About $160 for inquiring minds.)

Here are their glorious technicalities, according to Brooks’ website:

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So far so good on the shoes. I can really tell a difference in the support they offer – and I’m already confident I’ll be buying another pair of these when I’m ready for new ones.

Speaking of support, I know it’s going to take more than physical prowess and some fancy gear to get me through these next couple months. It’s going to take some serious mental toughness and unprecedented discipline – two of the reasons I signed up in the first place. I’m hoping to find strength and pride in my body, but even more than that, I want to train my mind.

There are so many ways this can benefit me in more than just running or physical fitness. Mentally, I hope to gain these things in this process:

  • Shape my self-discipline
    Training is all about discipline – but so is blogging, freelancing, and running your own business. I am accountable only to myself to keep this engine running and this is a tangible example of how preparation is the key to success.
  • Face challenges with confidence in all aspects of myself – my mind, body, and spirit.
    There are so many times in life we are presented with a challenge – solving a problem, climbing a mountain, growing and bearing a child, battling anxiety, getting lost in a foreign city, making ends meet on a slim income – they all present us with a choice. It is how we handle these things that show character and strength and I want to walk into all of these scenarios confident in myself.
  • Step into fear with a can-do attitude.
    Honestly, I’m scared of running this. I’m scared of failing, I’m scared of hurting, I’m scared of letting myself down. But being scared never really got me anywhere. I have let fear have too much control over me for too long and I will not let that be the thing that holds me back. Crossing the finish line will be me giving my fear the double middle finger(!!!!!).

In order to make sure my mind is training as well as my body, I have collected an arsenal of reading material. Upon suggestions from friends (thanks Meg and Cait!) I exercised my Amazon Prime status and got a couple of books to motivate me and open my mind up to the ways of those who have mastered this craft.

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Currently reading: Running on Faith: The Principles, Passion, and Pursuit of a Winning Life by Jason Lester. This dude is a serious badass. His faith is inspiring in spite of the struggles he’s endured and I’ve already found myself using some of his mantras.

Next up: Finding Ultra by Rich Roll. The subtitle for this is “Rejecting middle age, becoming one of the world’s fittest men, and discovering myself.” Yes please.

Then: Body Mind Mastery: Training for Sport and Life by Dan Millman, which I’m excited about. I find information on the mind/body connection to be really interesting and powerful.

And we can’t forget this one! The Racing Weight Cookbook by Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear. I’d like to do everything I can to set myself up for success – which means making sure I’m getting enough of what my body needs to keep going. This was a great recommendation that has some tips and explanations in the beginning and a ton of healthy recipes I can easily make with my limited kitchen supplies. I imagine I’ll continue using this even after the race – I literally couldn’t find one recipe in there I wouldn’t at least try!

In fact, I made one already! Carrot & cremini mushroom soup. All veggies – all flavor. Deliciousness! Bryan loved it too. I’ll post the recipe later this week so you all can share in my well-balanced veggie joy.

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Luckily, over the past couple weeks, everything has gotten a little easier. Three miles has gone from dismal to doable and I have actually found myself looking forward to heading out for a run – even in 95 degree weather. Who am I?

Eating healthy has become easier, too. I’m generally pretty good about this, but this process has already forced me to be more in tune with my body. I like how it feels when I do right by it so I’ve been motivated to fuel it up with yummy, healthy things. (Don’t worry, I still indulge in our Ice Cream Sunday tradition – you have to reward yourself too, right?!)

And now that I’ve posted this, it’s for real. I can’t go back on it. So over the next couple of months, please send me your good vibes – I’m sure there will be some days I will need that extra push! :)