Saturday, June 30, 2012

first step

Putting this in writing is not the first step.

Neither was buying this pair of shoes today-- which I LOVE, by the way!
As much as you can love a pair of running shoes.

But both of them are symbolic of that first step.....toward a goal I've had sloshing around in my mind for a while. 

A goal to not just participate in a 5K....not just to finish a 5K....because I've done both of those on numerous occasions. 

My goal is to RUN an entire 5K.

No time goals, no speed goals, just no stopping to walk.

I had some foot pain issues for a while which forced me to stay off my feet as much as possible, and let them heal.  While it was not difficult to "be lazy", I was so excited that it seemed to actually work. I ran/walked a 5K with my Girls on the Run team this spring, and the pain did not come back- fingers crossed that it still doesn't!  That's when I decided I'm going to start running again with my goal in mind.

And for all of you runners out there (I know a majority of my co-workers are in this category), this might seem simple, but I know you will understand that we all have to start with that first step.  So I hope that you'll keep me accountable for this goal.  

I don't have a time frame for many things I like to go at my own pace.  Which for those who know me well, is not a fast one.  And I'm not only speaking of running here.....pretty much anything I do in life is not done full speed ahead.   I take my time, think it through, get distracted, focus again, and eventually finish. 

Except when I eat ice cream.  That....I do crazy fast.

What truly amazes me is how so many of you runners can work a full day, quickly change and "just" run 5 miles, then go take care of your family, grade papers, work on lesson plans, take care of your house, and still have time for a social life.   I also know that you've been doing this for a while, and I completely understand how having endurance and stamina and being in excellent shape are all a part of this.  But what I really want to say inspire me.  You have inspired me.  You are inspiring me.  You will continue to inspire me.

And just to clarify things....I'm not running to clear my head.  Because as I've told many people, it's not calming, relaxing, or mind-clearing for me.    I'm not running to win a race.   Because, as I've said, the only race I might ever win would be ice-cream-eating.   And I'm not running to fit in with a group.   Because although the runners I know are a pretty cool group of ladies, I'm not up to their level yet.

I am running for two reasons:  to get healthy and to reach an attainable goal.

I think that KNOWING the first step.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


What motivates you?

Some of us are motivated by a desire to complete something- check one more task off a to-do list, earn a college degree, finish a 5K run, fill in every square of that killer Sudoku, create a travel scrapbook, be able to see the kitchen counter dishes-free....yes, all of these are things I have completed.  The counter thing was tonight.  :)

Some of us are motivated by money, by power, by acceptance, by pressure, by fear, by love, by our conscience....and yes, all of these things have motivated me at some point in my life as well.

I really didn't set out for this to be some deep, philosophical post tonight, so don't worry it will lighten up soon.  I really wanted to write about procrastination.  But when I was thinking about why I procrastinate, I realized it was due to a lack of motivation.

When I don't do the dishes on those crazy, busy weeks during the school year, it's because I'm not motivated to do it.  I'm tired....I need time to unwind....I put it off one night, which led to the next and now it's overwhelming to look at.....and really, no one is coming over my house to witness the disgusting pile of dishes accumulating in my why do them?

When the photos on my digital camera are filling up my (large) memory card, and I still haven't developed any for over a year....why am I not doing that?   I'll have to pay a large sum to get the prints, put all of those in photo albums which makes more work for me, and my computer is snail-slow yet quick to stop once I try to upload them I should probably count on being locked up in a room with my laptop for a full day, which isn't my idea of fun.  

When I have a pile of mail to go through, and it just keeps growing....where's the motivation?  Those bills aren't due for a couple weeks, just the sight of that junk mail is annoying, I need to recycle 75% of those things anyway, none of it is urgent.....see, I'm pretty masterful at excuses.

This all leads to my photo evidence of some of my talents in procrastination. 

And please.....let me know I'm not alone in this. 

This box....contains a pair of cute shoes with a broken strap, with the plan of bringing them somewhere to get fixed.  It's in the bottom of my coat closet.  A really convenient place to remind me to get that done, right? 
Oh, and the box has been there since I moved in my house almost three years ago.

Speaking of shoes....I posted this on Facebook (and Instagram) last week.  These represent only  some of the shoes I can't wear anymore but still keep in my collect dust.
I am working on this one though-- planning on selling them in a garage sale this summer! 

This paper shredder....which I bought MONTHS ago to replace my weak, only-can-shred-a-couple-papers-at-a-time shredder.....has not been taken out of the box yet.  But....the papers (well, some of them) that I plan on shredding are waiting in folders on top of the box.  
One step closer....

Speaking of not taking something out of its box.....I bought my new vacuum over a month ago and it has even been in plain sight the whole time....whether I'm sitting at my dining room table, in the living room, walking in the front door, or coming down my hall.  It's not hiding downstairs like the shredder.'s just a constant reminder of how I don't enjoy assembling things. 
And how my carpets must be really gross right now.  Hope that wasn't TMI.  ;)

This might be a hard one to see....where the ceiling meets the brown wall, about a third of the way from the upper right corner, is a milky-white glob of.....well, I'm not exactly sure.  It could just be dust. It could be a cobweb.  Or, it could be the nest for a thousand tiny little spider babies.    
I'm not sure if I'm too lazy to get up there and find out, or too terrified.  
And seriously, I'm not even scared of spiders.
Spider baby nests.....that's a different story. 

Besides showing my love for Tide detergent, this is actually related to my procrastination.
These bottles are all empty.  Some have been for months.
All I need to do is rinse them and then I can throw them in my recycling.
Yet, they stay together like a little Tide bottle family on my laundry room floor.
Again-- lack of motivation. a biggie.  This pile of randomness is only part of what taunts me every time I throw one more thing in my spare room downstairs.  And then proceed to close the door so I don't have to look at the mess. of my summer goals is to create an exercise room in here, and with a garage sale in the plans, I might actually be able to check this off my list.  :)

Behind my pretty new stove is another reminder.....of a project that was supposed to get done last summer when I painted my mom and I ripped down the laminate backsplash (YES, I said laminate- and ewww they were a hideous color to boot).  We did this along with taking out the old counters before I got the new counters installed.  I didn't, however, count on the fact that this was in August right before my school year planning, it's stayed this way ever since. 

And now.....a success story.  This huge "boo boo" on the wall-- from when we ripped out the aforementioned counters-- has had been there since August as well.

However, just this weekend I (FINALLY!!) patched it up, and painted over it.  
In a brand new paint color.
Which will all be revealed when I write my kitchen remodel posts.

Ha ha.....couldn't help but add in one more example of procrastination there. 

And now that I've completed another thing (this post), I feel pretty proud. 
Now, that's motivation!! 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

singin' in the rain

Have you ever heard of a Puh?  
Years ago, as I was reading flipping through an US Weekly magazine, I came across a page that had a collection of photos of celebrities.  Not really unusual for this magazine, but what was interesting is that each of them had a PUH.  A Personal Umbrella Holder.  Some employee who they had literally holding an umbrella for them. know....holding an umbrella is hard work. 

I did not make up this term....and I don't know if US Weekly did, but I give them credit for it.
And ever since then, my sister and I have used the term as much as possible.  Because it's fun to think about someone who is doing this oh-so-important job to have a title like Puh.  Right?

So....the real reason for this post isn't to enlighten you on an important term in pop culture, but to announce to you that yesterday, I had a Puh.

Let's back it up a bit though....and give you a little background first.

My sister Capen* and I were in Muskegon visiting my aunt who has been in the hospital for a couple weeks.  (For those who know about this, she seems to be doing better every time I see her- and is supposed to go home next week!)   Since my aunt missed out on a trip to Ohio to visit with my brother-in-law's family who were visiting from Germany, my sister came up with the brilliant idea of Skyping with them.  Gotta love technology!

After our visit, we decided to get some dinner and then head to the beach.  Capen had wanted to get a specific picture of the beach, of the view when you first turn the corner and see the lake open up before you.  It's one of my favorite views ever....always gorgeous (I used to literally say "Well, hellooo beautiful" whenever I turned that corner-- okay, I still do), and it also reminds me of where I came from.

Ever since I got my beloved iPhone, I've been a little obsessed with taking photos (follow me on instagram for proof on that!) so I of course volunteered to take some pics with my phone for her.  As luck would have it, right as we left the fine dining establishment that is Lee's Famous Recipe, it started raining.  Not a downpour, not a thunderstorm, but definitely a steady rain.  Capen was a little bummed, until I pointed out the clear sky that seemed to be far in the west....toward the lake.
Determined to get that photo we had been talking about, we drove to the beach and decided we'd wait it out.  After we parked, and it was still raining, Capen got out an umbrella from her trunk and explained that we would have to share since that's the only one she had with her.  

Yep....she became my Puh. 

It only made sense, since I was the one taking the picture, that I couldn't possibly be bothered to hold the umbrella.  Well, this made for quite the comical walk down the boardwalk, with my sister trying to keep us both dry, as I asked her to stop every fifteen seconds so I could take a picture....of the dunes, of the DOUBLE rainbow, the beautiful sunset over Lake Michigan....and as I randomly broke into song..."Singin' in the Rain".  It was so literal that I couldn't resist.  Good thing it was raining so there weren't many people out to hear my lovely acapella version of the song. 

It did finally stop raining about ten minutes into our walk, so Capen was released of her Puh duties.  And I got some fantastic shots both during the rain and after when the sun began to set on what is possibly one of the most beautiful my world at least. 
How it looked when we first parked....rain cloud overhead, with the sun peeking out of the clearing

On the boardwalk looking down.....notice the drops of water on the bottom of the rails?  Pretty!

Love the "waves of sand"

We saw a double rainbow!  If you don't know the joke behind this, go to You Tube and search for double rainbow.  "What does it meeeeaaan?"

Ahh....the dunes....

I thought this fallen tree looked like something that would be entered into Art Prize. Sorry for the dark picture, but the sun was setting and this was in the shadows.

This one is now the wallpaper on my it!

The deserted boardwalk at sunset after the rain stopped...

Speaking of sunsets.....:)

Here's the shot we came for....well, one of the fifteen versions of it anyway.  We come around the curve, and this is what we see.  The beauty gets me every time.

Another version, a little further back.  Hellooooo, Beautiful! 
(love the sun peeking through the trees)

See you later, my darling dunes!

*not her real name, but a real nickname

Friday, June 22, 2012

crispy kale, anyone?

It's been a bit of an obsession of mine....and while I'm getting better and not staying on it for hours (yes, I said hours), I'm still checking it daily.  Pinning and repinning awesome sounding recipes, DIY projects I'd love to do, tips for getting healthier, ideas for my classroom, random tips for household organization, and wish lists upon wish lists of outfits, shoes, jewelry, hair styles, and makeup I'd love to have, buy, fit into, and pull off someday.  

Basically, I'm warning you that a lot of my posts may be Pinterest-inspired.  :)

One day a while back, I repinned a recipe for baked kale chips.  It was something I heard about once....I believe it was on Rachael Ray's TV show.....and I thought it sounded not only easy, but very nutritious.  And I'm constantly trying (and often falling off the wagon) to get more veggies into my diet.  

The only experience I had with kale was wilting it into a couple soup recipes (like you might do with spinach) and I found it didn't have much taste in the soups.  It gave me some extra veggies though, and that's all that mattered to me!   So, when I heard about this idea of making a snack out of kale, I was intrigued for sure.

I did a huge grocery shop the other my effort to eat healthier this summer, I spent a lot of time in the produce section.  When I saw the kale, I remembered that "pin" that I wanted to try and bought a huge bunch of the green veggie.

Here's the link to the recipe I started with....and true to my blog, I put my own twist on it.  Not that I think this author's recipe wouldn't work-- I just couldn't resist adding a couple things. :)

Start by washing a bunch of fresh kale.  I only used half of the bunch I bought, and it still made two pans of chips.  (Just to give you an idea of how much you could get out of it.)

Once you wash the kale, strip the leaves from the tough stalks and tear into whatever size you'd like your chips to be.  Personally, I think the smaller ones worked best.  They were super crunchy!

The washed kale will hold the water pretty well, so you want to dry it first.  I used my salad spinner.  I knew that thing would come in handy some day!!
Here are three of the four ingredients I used on the kale: fine sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, and garlic powder.  The reason the fourth is missing is because I didn't think of it until I made my second batch.  I'll keep you in suspense on the mystery ingredient...;)
This goes off from the original recipe, which just calls for the salt and oil. 

I couldn't resist adding some garlic- I have an unhealthy obsession with garlic.  It might need to take out a restraining order on me. 

Oooh....maybe I should try roasted garlic next time.  But....I digress...back to the recipe!

Toss the kale pieces with the above ingredients. I don't really measure things as much as I should, so I don't have exact measurements to give you.  I apologize if that sends you into a panic, or makes you question my cooking abilities.....but, that's how it is folks.  

This is the best I can tell you:  I drizzled the bowl of kale once, tossed them around, and then drizzled it again.  I know....fantastic measuring, right?  As for the salt and garlic did turn out a little saltier than I like so I would go a little lighter on those next time.  I pretty much did the same process with those....sprinkled them both on top of the "oiled" kale, tossed, and then repeated.  Next time, I think I'll leave out the second sprinkling.  Again, I'm really sorry for the inexactness of my recipe.  I'll try to be a little more helpful next time.  :)

As suggested by the original recipe's author, I put parchment paper on my baking sheets.  Easy clean up!!  Then I arranged the oiled and seasoned kale pieces on the first pan, and put it in my oven which was preheated to 350 degrees.   They should be crispy and delicious in about 10-15 minutes.  It really depends on your oven as well as how crispy you like them.   I liked the crispier ones I say keep them in longer.  But, that's just me.
And here's where I had a stroke of genius!  The mystery ingredient is.......grated Parmesan cheese!  Actually, this is the more sophisticated (i.e. expensive) Parmigiano Reggiano cheese because I had some extra in my fridge from another recipe.    So I sprinkled some of that onto the second pan (and yes, I said "some"- no measuring again). 

I do have to say that I liked this batch much better.  But I'm almost as obsessed with cheese as I am with garlic.  Okay, it might be a tie.

Here's what the kale chips looked like when I took them out of the oven.

And here are what was left of them after I was snacking on them straight from the pan. 

They made a fabulous accompaniment to my dinner that night....which consisted of reheated meatballs with a homemade sauce (a Pioneer Woman recipe that I made months ago and froze the extras), and garlic mashed potatoes (storebought from the dairy section- mostly because it's summer and I wanted to limit the amount of heat in my kitchen).  So within ten minutes of the kale chips being done, I sat down to this delicious and well-rounded meal. 

As for the leftover kale (I still have a half bunch in the fridge)....I'm looking into a new use for it.  I have a few ideas, but am welcome to any suggestions you might have!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

dipping in or diving in....either way, I'm all in!

It's been a long time that I've been considering this.  This whole blogging thing.

When I joined Facebook and started reading other blogs that friends would recommend, I got the first itch.  Then I started writing a few "notes" on Facebook....just silly things really, but it gave me a little taste of how it felt to share something about myself with others.  Sometimes with others who don't know me very well at all. 

I would keep making the excuses that most first-time bloggers probably make.  Or at least I hope they do.....if not, just pretend you felt this way.  It will help me feel less self-conscious.

I would think....
*No one is going to be interested in what I have to say.
*No one will "follow" me.
*I won't have enough to write about.
*I won't have enough time to write.
*I'm not sure I want everyone to know this much about me...

Putting all of that aside, I decided to dip that proverbial toe in the blogging waters and try it out.  And maybe it will be a tremendous disaster, but at least I can say I tried.   :) might wonder where my blog title came from.  Honestly, it came from about ten minutes of staring at my living room wall trying to decide what I wanted this blog to be about.  Besides me, of course.  And I thought about the topics I would likely write family, friends, job, cooking, organizing, being a homeowner, and feelings about topics I read or hear about.  I decided that was way too broad to come up with one title for all of that.  

Then I thought of something that happened just tonight that kind of sums up who I am.  I was making a new recipe (which I will post soon) and realized that I'm not really a "follow the recipe" kind of girl.  I like to look at what the recipe says and add my own twist to it....whether that's adding an ingredient, taking one out, changing the amount, adding a different technique....with the exception of baking, I usually do this every time. 

That's when it became clear:  I'm this way with a lot of things in my life.  I don't necessarily try to fit into some mold that others might think I should.  I'm different, independent, unique, and proud of it.  I sometimes feel out of place because of that, but I'm staying true to myself.  Luckily, I have an amazing family and group of friends that accept me for that.  

Putting my own twist on things will be the theme of this blog, as it is definitely the theme of my life.
I'll be letting my "freak flag" fly.....I hope you'll join me!  :)