A New Creative Outlet

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I am not what you'd call a "crafty" person. I've tried beading, knitting, various DIY- you name it! Typically I'll make a very promising start on the project du jour, but before you know it, I've become distracted and perl'd in the wrong place, tangled my line or hot-glued my fingers together (ouch!). Occasionally I draw- mostly cartoony things- but being a perfectionist tends to suck the fun right out, so I don't do it all that often.

In spite of these failings, I feel strongly that everyone needs some type of creative outlet! As much as my job brings it's own satisfactions and rewards, it's not creative and I can feel the atrophy setting in to my poor, under-used, creative left-brain. Which is why I am so excited that my friend/ambulance partner/fellow blogger Erin at The Bright Owl is teaching a local zentangle class next week. What is zentangle you might ask? Erin answers that question (here), explaining it much better than I ever could- she is a certified zentangle teacher after all! But, to sum it up, zentangling basically consists of using a series of repeating patterns to create a picture. No, it's not doodling. It's a bit more methodical and precise than that. Check out one of Erin's "tiles." So beautiful!

One of my favorite tangles from The Bright Owl
According to Erin, this is a form of artistic expression that even a crazy perfectionist like me can learn and enjoy. Plus, it's supposed to help with stress, focus, and all kinds of healthy beneficial things. I can't wait to try it! Cheers to a new creative outlet!

What do you do to express yourself?

Drab to Fab: Boots

I am in love with boots: boots with heels, boots without, short, tall...you get the idea. For years I've considered boots-along with scarves-one of the best things about winter.  My obsession is by no means a new state of affairs, but I am trying to broaden my boot-horizons this season. Rather than limiting myself to one look, I am boldly (okay, boldly for me) breaking out of my skinny-jeans-tucked-into-boots comfort zone and attempting the boots/dress combo. I've had mixed results. I'm not entirely sold. But I'm working on it and I haven't given up yet. This week I tried a dress I bought at Kohls for an event this summer (love the green, and did I mention it was 10 bucks on the clearance rack?? I may not be a skilled thrifter, but I have fabulous sale-radar!) and combined it with a chunky necklace I've had long enough to forget the origins, and boots from Target. There is definitely some amount of satisfaction in creating an entire outfit under $30. So without further ado, here's my look for this week's Drab to Fab link-up at Sugar and Spice:

How do you wear your boots?


After weeks of beautifully sunny, unseasonably dry weather it's finally raining. Let's be clear: I'm a sun person. If the sun should choose to shine on my little corner of the world 365 days a year I'd be a happy girl! Of course, that's not entirely realistic and I know we need the rain. My poor, neglected, nearly-dead flower garden certainly knows we need the rain (If you actually remember to water your flowers in January, kudos! You are a better woman than I!) Now, I wouldn't mind the rain quite so much if I wasn't working in it. And also if my work boots didn't have holes in the bottom. Inexcusable I know, and I will attempt to excuse it only by mentioning that I really never think about work when I'm not at work, which makes a proactive approach somewhat difficult. So, due to my off-duty apathy toward running duty-related errands, there is more than a passing chance I will arrive home tonight with a severe case of prune-feet. And really bad hair.

Okay, enough venting for one post. What I love about the rain (and yes, there are some things! I'm keeping an open mind!) is the comfortable, cozy feeling of being warm and snug at home curled up in front of the fireplace with a good book-or blog-and my crazy little ankle-biters (dogs, folks! I promise not to refer to my future children by such a moniker). Rain always inspires me to want to dig into my recipe books for the perfect-for-cold-weather comfort-food dishes like chicken and dumplings or crock-pot chili. OR, this recipe for Roasted Chicken Potpie by Phil McGauley that appeared in our local paper yesterday (just in time) that I can't wait to try, and which I'm including in this blog in case you'd like to try it too.

Roasted Chicken Potpie *makes 8 individual servings*
For pie filling:
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 and 1/4 cup chopped carrots/celery stalk combined
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup flour
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
4 cups roasted chicken pieces
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
For dough:
4 cups flour
1 and 1/3 cup Crisco
2 teaspoons salt
Cold water as needed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For filling: sauté butter, onions, celery, carrots, thyme and bay leaves for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup flour, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add corn, peas and chicken. Season with salt and pepper. For dough: mix ingrediants thoroughly until dough forms, adding cold water 1 tablespoon at a time to form a ball. Line bottom of ramekins or tins with dough. Add about 1 cup of filling to each and cover with remaining dough. Cut 4 slits in top. Bake @ 375 for 45 minutes or until bubbling and nicely browned.

What's your favorite cold weather dish?

Five Fitness Faves

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I clearly don't have a problem spending money, but for some reason when it comes to shelling out for fitness gear I'm more tight-fisted than Ebeneezer Scrooge at a charity event. However, there really are some great fitness tools out there that-for a few dinero-have the potential to make your workouts a little less painful and a little more fun. Trust me when I tell you, if you're a runner, hiker or a dedicated walker, these babies are worth every penny:

1. Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS/heart rate monitor: At about $230, the price tag is a little bit steep, but you get great bang for your buck! This little gizmo records pace, distance and time, while tracking your heart rate and calorie burn. I especially love the GPS feature for trails, as it's way too hard to figure out distance from those little park maps! You can also download your data to the Garmin website for analysis/mapping although I haven't used that feature. Bonus: it's available in a pink/gray girly-version!

2. The iPod Nano has to be one of the best gifts I received this Christmas. At about 1.5" square, it is ridiculously tiny and so stinkin cute! I love the full color touch screen, the built-in FM radio and Nike fitness app. But more importantly to me, this tiny MP3 clips right onto my sports bra or tank top and never gets in the way of a workout. What a great replacement for my old-school iPod with the clunky arm band! Starting at $129 at the Apple store.

3. I love the Sprint hand-held water bottle by Nathan. I'm a total mouth-breather (attractive, I know) so even on shorter runs I tend to get that annoying parched-mouth feeling. This water bottle is the perfect solution. It holds 10oz of liquid and has a one way valve for taking a quick drink without breaking your stride.  The hand strap adjusts to a couple different positions, meaning you don't have to grip anything (love it!) and the small pocket is just the right size for keys or an energy gel. www.nathansports.com for stores.

4. Travis probably uses our GoFit foam rollers more often than I do, but I will fully acknowledge they are a safe and effective way both to warm-up your muscles before a run and to stretch them out afterward. Runner's World online feature several great videos on how to get the most benefit from your foam roller.

5. I have the hardest time dipping into my wallet for good workout clothes! The way I see it, I don't look too cute when I'm breaking a sweat anyway, so why bother, right? Lucky for me, the man in my life has my back on this one and occasionally surprises me with new gym outfits. Thanks to him I've discovered that high-performance moisture-wicking materials really do make for a comfier workout.  The Heat Gear capris and semi-fitted shirts by Under Armour are my definite favorites!

What fitness gear do you love?

Drab to Fab: Sequins

Hopefully I'll get this post up in time to link up for this week's Drab to Fab Challenge. If not, by all means head on over to Sugar and Spice Friday anyhow and see what the other girls are doing!

Okay, so I realize that a sparkly silver sequined minidress could hardly be considered "drab." But, when you've lusted after and waited for said dress for weeks (seriously, weeks people!) and it finally arrives in all of it's shiny splendour and then doesn't fit, well, something had to be done. And that something most definitely did not involve returning the dress. The item in question is one previously mentioned, found at Express online for a steal ($90 off! Love it!). Sadly, it doesn't exactly grace my 5 foot curvy frame with the same elegance with which it drapes the gorgeous 6 foot, size 00 models in the ads (insert big sigh here). So, until I grow a few inches-not likely-or lose the rest of those lingering happy holiday pounds-in progress- here's how I'm making it work:

Dress/Clutch: Express
Blazer: Forever 21
Shoes: Style & Co (Macys)
Earrings: Kohls

My second DtF look this week is a cardigan bought last season and worn exactly once. It just seemed kinda boring in spite of the fun (leopard? giraffe?) animal print. Soooo... I tried it on with a few different belts and finally  settled on that skinny lil guy which, for me, just made the whole outfit a little more interesting. And, IMO, you can never go wrong with comfy ballet flats!

Sweater/Tank/Jeans: H&M
Ballet flats: Target
Skinny belt: bottom of the closet straggler

What are you wearing this week?

Viva Las Vegas

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I have to hand it to all you married ladies out there! I don't know how you did it! Seriously, this wedding planning stuff is hard, especially for someone like me who leans (just a little bit, I swear!) toward type-A obsessiveness. It's also expensive. Which is why-thankfully with the support of our nearest and dearest-Travis and I will probably be tying the knot in.....

Vegas! It's not an easy decision, but it would mean we won't have to sell our future first-born to pay off wedding debt. It also means that we won't have to stress about choosing a florist, caterer, band, etc., etc. Even so, it feels like there are a million and one things to plan in the next 4 months!

Here's one of the things I'm most looking forward to:

After all the planning and organizing I know we're going to enjoy our Honeymoon! If only I can convince Travis that exploring an active volcano is a good idea!

What do you think of destination weddings? Have you had one? Attended one?

Very First Link-Up!

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I think this may very well be some kind of new-blogger milestone: Amy over at Sugar and Spice has been kind enough to feature my 'Sweater Crush' post in her Drab to Fab link-up! Now, I suppose this may not sound like the biggest deal ever, but to a blog-newbie like me...it pretty much is. So head on over with me, show her some love and check out the fun ways her other readers have taken their clothes from Drab to Fab!

Sweater Crush

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I know I've said it in a previous post, but I love, love (did I mention love?) to shop! When I spot that perfect purse/sweater/pair of shoes the gates of heaven open, and some strange chemical reaction occurs in my brain whereby all willpower is completely dissolved and I Just. Can't. Help. Myself. (Strangely, this is quite similar to the way I react in the vicinity of any product containing chocolate. Hmmm...) If it shines or sparkles, chances are I will pursue it with single-minded intensity. It's a bit like falling in love, however one-sided. Sadly, as it is with some human relationships, my clothing-love is occasionally blind. I really can't  explain just how or why certain items have ended up in my closet. All I know is, I must have loved them once. (Doesn't that make my impulse buying sound sort of sad and romantic? No? Well, I tried!) The other day I came across a fun blog Sugar and Spice featuring a Drab To Fab challenge: take an item of clothing you haven't worn in forever or that isn't a perfect fit and find a way to make it work for you. Love that idea!

What could be more drab than this boring gray sweater? I purchased it at Forever 21 four or five years ago, but the love affair quickly ended as I realized the flared cut and three-quarter length sleeves made me look several inches shorter and several pounds heavier. To the back of the closet it went!

This winter I decided to pull it out and find a way to wear it! I started by rolling up the sleeves to a more flattering length. Then I layered it over a comfy white tee from H&M, added a white scarf, some dangly earrings and a pair of gray boots (Target) over my fave skinny jeans, and...viola! I'm crushing on my old gray sweater all over again.


New Year's Goals and a Glass of Spinach

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One of the best, greatest things about the new year has to be the feeling of having a clean slate and a fresh start. I've never been a huge fan of New Year's resolutions (because really, if something needs to change there's no point in waiting around, right??) but I do look at the start of a new year as a chance to reasses and re-evaluate what's important to me, and what will be important in the coming year.  So here's what I'm working on now:

1. Being a better communicator. I love my family and friends, and think of them often. But do they really know how much they mean to me? I'm ashamed to say I have a tendency to treat the phone like kryptonite. And let's be real, I'm no superman.

2. Trying new things. It's easy for me to play it safe and go with what I already know and love (Painting all 10 fingernails the same color! Eating pizza sans scary toppings like arugula or eggplant!). But stepping outside my comfort zone can have fabulous results. (see below)

3. Making exercise and healthy eating a consistent priority. I can't say I love making time for the gym when my to-do list is a million miles long and I'm already feeling sleep deprived. And boy is it hard to ignore my raging sweet tooth in favor of (gulp) fruits and vegetables. Well, it's time for some willpower! I need to rock a wedding dress come summer!

I had a great opportunity to check off both 2 & 3 this morning by giving Travis's post-workout protein shake a try. I'd been avoiding it because 1. it's full of my nemesis: spinach and 2. it's an absolutely ungodly shade of green. Drinks should not be green. (Notable exceptions include fruity alcoholic beverages. See? I'm flexible!)  So, I was a little put off. But I'm trying new things! And it's healthy! So I asked him to make me one today, and surprise surprise...it's both filling and delish!


At around 300 calories and 30 grams of protein it's great for recovery after a long sweat-sesh and will probably be my new quickie-lunch favorite. Just, you know, served in a travel mug so I don't have to look at it.

Here's the basic recipe that T found online on  Fit2Fat2Fit's YouTube channel:

- large handful of spinach
- half a banana
- 3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk
- spoonful of almond butter
- 1 scoop of protein powder (we used Gold Standard 100% Whey in Vanilla)
- 1 cup of ice
*Blend until smooth...disguise in colorful glassware or lidded mug...enjoy!
Happy 2012! What are you working on this new year?

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