Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Our Christmas Card is Finished!

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Deck Garden

Now that our front yard looks a little better thanks to some seeding and my new found ability to not kill every potted plant I've been given, I'm starting on making our back deck look nice. Unfortunately because of deed restrictions, I can't create my own flower beds or vegetable garden in the back, so I'll have to settle for a deck garden. 

So far, it's mostly flowers, but I do have strawberries growing in a hanging basket (which apparently you can do!). I'm thinking about some tomatoes and maybe some other veggies that do well in pots. What else should I add?

Headed to Goodwill over the weekend to find some outdoor tables and plant stands to repaint and spruce up the deck further. More pictures to follow!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Use Your Muscle, Carve It Out, Work It, Hustle

While blogging regularly was not one of my New Year's Resolutions, losing some weight was. 

After the (good) stress of getting married and planning a wedding, the (good) stress of buying our first house, and the (not so good) stress of losing my dad, I found that I had spent about 2.5 years developing some not-so-fantastic habits where eating and exercising are concerned. 

Back when I was in college, I was in decent shape because I walked everywhere and had the metabolism of the 20-year-old that I was. When I moved back home after college for a few months in May of 2008, I started being more sedentary working at a desk job, so I got myself a Y membership. With everything that was going on at home with my dad's illness and the chaos that surrounded it, the gym was an escape. I lived at home, so the hefty price tag for the gym didn't seem so bad because my expenses were minimal. I was relatively healthy, and in decent shape, going to classes 3 days a week.

When Alex and I moved in together in December of 2008, my gym membership got dropped because it was suddenly a luxury that I couldn't afford. Luckily I was in decent shape, so it didn't seem like that big of a sacrifice, but as I stopped going to the gym, I started to get into those bad habits I mentioned before. Dad was sick and going to visit was difficult. When I wasn't over there helping, I was at home recovering -- lying on the couch like a lump and eating junk food and drinking wine. When Dad passed away, it only got worse, and I slowly started to gain weight. It was definitely part of the grieving process, so I allowed myself a little leeway. I understand that at that time in my life, I needed to be gentle with myself, so a few extra pounds were small price to pay for dealing with enormous grief.

When we moved into our house in April 2010, I still couldn't afford the gym but was a full 10 pounds from my college weight, so I bought myself the Chalean Extreme program from Beach Body as a compromise. Spending $100 one time seemed reasonable rather than spending $55/month on a gym membership. I also supplemented those workouts with running on the elliptical at the gym my work provides a membership to for $6/month. It worked for a while, but I learned a lot about myself trying to do this program, going to the gym, and being self-motivated. 

It turns out I am self motivated enough to get started, but I am not motivated enough to make it through long, difficult workouts without some encouragement. I had done much better at the Y where taking a class meant working hard with 30 other people around you. Giving up and quitting halfway through the class was embarrassing, and not an option as far as my pride was concerned. After a few months of starting and restarting Chalean about 20 different times and never getting very far, I sucked it up, reworked my budget, and found the money to rejoin the Y.

On December 13th, 2011, I decided to commit for real this time. Four months later, I am more than halfway to my goal of returning to (and staying at) my college weight. There were a few things that have made the difference this time.

First and foremost, I think I am just finally ready to make a change. I have been working on being kinder to myself in all aspects of my life because I have realized that I tend to be extremely hard on myself -- and helping myself to be a healthier person is one of the kindest things I can do for me. I am working every day to be the person I want to be, and being healthy is a part of that plan.

I joined, and have tracked my food and exercise every single day, even when I have a "bad" day and go over my calories. (I figure that I can lie to the food tracker, but what's the point when your body keeps an accurate record no matter what you tell yourself?) Sometimes it's tough to see what I have eaten, but seeing it there in black and white makes it easier to own up to and do better next time. Also, Livestrong helps me figure out what I should be eating and has helped me to balance out my diet better and control my portions. Did you know that one scone can be over 800 calories? I didn't. Also, Alex is bigger than me. It was a huge lesson to realize that if I wanted to stay smaller than him, I'd better stop eating the same amount of food as him at every meal.

And if I really want that scone or ice cream or giant gooey fudgy chocolate brownie? I exercise, and enter it into the Fitness tracker, and go ahead and eat it! Trying to be better about eating doesn't mean starving myself or giving up the stuff I love. It wouldn't work for me if it did. If I slip up and eat something really terrible, I don't feel guilty about it. I just try to make up for it later in the week, and am gentle with myself about needing to eat junk every once in a while. The difference is, it's the exception, not the rule anymore. I am creating good habits.

Here's an example of one of the charts Livestrong proivdes that helps keep me motivated as I go along. You can see that I have had some ups and downs, but if you keep things in perspective (looking at the whole 4 months instead of just this week), it makes it easier to see and appreciate progress.

I joined, which is a website that makes exercise a game. When you work out, you track your fitness and gain points to level up. My husband and quite a few of my friends play as well, so it makes working out a competition not only with yourself, but with your friends. I personally love being able to gloat about kicking my coworker's asses and being three levels higher than them around the coffee pot on Monday morning.

I have a gym buddy. Even though she's not always there because she's as busy as I am, I have done much better this time around because my Aunt Lynn meets me at the gym and we do our classes together. It's really hard to talk yourself into skipping a workout when you know someone is counting on you to be there. We push each other and have both lost more weight this time around because we have each other for support. Also, we motivate each other to change up which classes we go to. I think we have officially been to all but two of the classes offered at the Y right now, and we do at least one new or different class a week.

I have a weight loss marble jar, which sound ridiculous, but is actually really motivating. Sitting on my kitchen counter at home, I have one "To Lose" jar that started out holding one marble for every half pound I want to lose. For each half pound I lose, I move one marble to the "lost weight" jar. It's a really easy, visual way to track your progress, and like a kindergartner, I really look forward to moving marbles from one jar to the other. The one pictured below is from Pinterest, which is where I got the idea.

I hold myself accountable by posting to Facebook when I make progress. Seeing the outpouring of positive reinforcement and encouragement from friends as I achieve goals makes it all the sweeter. I find myself looking forward to being able to say I lost another half-a-pound or pound.

I surround myself with positivity and motivation. Speaking of Pinterest, I currently have an entire board dedicated to Working Out and Motivation. It's awesome. Pinterest is also great for healthy recipes! (And as a side note, I also have a bad day go to board called Pure Happiness, which is filled with cute animals and babies. Talk about a bad mood buster). In addition to motivation I create for myself, I keep company with other people who are trying to do better with their fitness. Social networking is ridiculously cool for this. My friend Angelina ran 11 miles today. How could that not be motivating? My friends inspire me to be better, and hopefully I inspire them in return.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sanity Saving Chore Chart

So ever since we started planning for the wedding, the house has sort of gotten away from me. To get myself back on track, I have been following the advice of Heather from Home-Ec 101 and trying to keep up with housework in about 15 to 20 minutes worth of cleaning every day.

So far, this has been going swimmingly and my house is in much better shape. Also my stress levels are way down because I don't dread coming home to daunting piles of laundry and disgusting bathrooms — which is amazing.

Here is Heather's chore chart PDF, and below is my revised version. Click to make it bigger so you can actually read it...

I tried to allocate one large chore and one small chore per day like Heather does in her version. I don't know if it will stay exactly like this, or if I'll need to modify, but so far so good. And, if I keep this up, the housework that has to be done on the weekends is minimal, leaving me time for bigger projects or to relax. All in all, a pretty great system.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wannabe Fashionista

I am no fashion blogger. Sometimes its even a miracle that I manage to get dressed in the morning. Recently, now that I have some spare time, I've been reading a lot of DIY and fashion blogs, so I've been trying to teach myself to pick out outfits. This week has yielded a few decent results. I'm sort of proud of my new attempts at grownup outfits, so I figured I'd share them with you.

This one was for a night out to Two Stones with Matt and Nicole. I wore jeans, black flats, and my batwing sweater over top. I thought it was really cute. Alex thought it looked like an "art teacher" sweater and kept asking what the assignment was for the evening.

Second animal print outfit of the week. This one was for girl's night with Daniella and Kirsten at Border Cafe. I love that the pants have zippers at the bottom, so you can zip them around your boots and scrunch them. This whole outfit is from Ann Taylor with boots from JCPenney. I felt like a little bit of a rockstar in this one.

And then yesterday, since I wasn't quite up to dressing for Halloween, I went with more Fall colors. Another "art teacher sweater", a metallic print top, brown pants, and gold flats.

Last but not least, today. Color! Teal sweater over a white top with a ridiculously cool necklace that was on clearance at JCPenney. Jeans and the world's most comfortable teal flats from Naturalizer. Oh, and Elizabeth's magic wand for good measure.

So now I just have to figure out what I want to wear for my birthday tomorrow!


EDIT: My birthday outfit was extremely cute, as was my makeup...but this is the only picture from the evening.

In other news, here's my Friday outfit this week.

Thanks to this post, I've decided that making a Pinterest board to help me keep a visual record as I try different outfit combinations. You can follow along here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Autumn Meanderings

So now that the wedding is over, I've finally had some time to get back to basics. It feels really, really good to spend time working on the house and getting out to enjoy the fall. First order of business after the wedding? New haircut.

I honestly could not love the new bangs more. Even when I pull my hair up, it looks like I've at least put some thought into it. And luckily I didn't have any trouble training the new bangs to behave like I did last time I tried bangs. Here's another cute shot of Mom and I at Bethany Blues down the beach.

Just as an aside, this was right after a grammy-nominated blind man sniffed me and told me that I was a good hippy dippy girl....but that's another story for another time.
In addition to new hair, I've felt the need to update my look, which has meant pinup eyeliner, bright lipstick, and bold prints.

Case in point:

Don't worry, not everything I own is feline print. Just happened to be in a mood this week. Also, notice the gay pride flag behind me in my cubicle from the parade? I'm pretty sure our company's president thinks that Alex is a girl. Funny, no?

Oh, and I also thrifted a great pair of gold Etienne Aignier shoes for $4! How fun is that?

In addition to getting myself ready for fall, I've also been working hard to get the house looking great. First and foremost, we've been trying to find time to mulch the yard for ages. It only took a few hours and two trips to Willey's, but it makes all the difference.

Now if only our sad grass would fill in. I think we have Harper to thank for that mess. Also, take a look at our cool, new solar lights courtesy of Carin and Daniel! They make a huge difference when we're coming home at night and for late night trips outside with the dog.

On the front steps, I had planted jedi salvia in my barrel planter, which promptly died in the heat wave over the summer. My mother-in-law gave me some mums to replace the dead stuff, and I added some festive scarecrows and a pumpkin. Very cute!

On Friday, I tried my hand at pumpkin carving. Although it didn't come out quite like it was supposed to, I used ModCloth's pug template and made this.

Unfortunately, her little face doesn't glow through like it is supposed to because the rind of the pumpkin is almost 2 inches thick, but I was very proud of my first attempt at pumpkin carving since the days I did it with my parents. I'm also starting to think I must have not helped too much with the actual cleaning out of the pumpkin, because that was SO much more of a pain in the ass than I remember...

Last, but not least, fall and nice weather has meant more trips to the bark park for Harper! Here's me with Harper's new friend Payton. She may be tiny, but at 3 pounds and 4 months old, she held her own at the park! Too cute.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Learning a New Dance Ten Days Before the Wedding

So it turns out I can't foxtrot in my wedding dress for fear of stepping on the back of it and falling on my butt, so we're learning some salsa. I think we've got the dip down, though...