Friday, November 30, 2012

Making a house a home: Living room edition

The past few months have flown by. I look back and can't believe that it's already been 4 months since we have moved into our new home. Between moving, starting a new job, working on the house and settling into a new area it has really left very little time to blog so I'm hoping that since things are starting to calm a bit that I'll be able to focus on blogging a little more regularly. When I think back about all that has happened this year, it boggles my mind, but that's a post on it's own that I'll go into at another time.

In the small amount of time we have spent in the new house we have been able to complete a lot of projects. The whole downstairs area has been re-painted, that includes the living room, family room, dining room and kitchen, including all the cupboards and trim as well. I can say that I'm completely sick of painting, and to be honest I did little of it compared to Ryan. As much as I hate painting, it makes such a difference in a home. Before we moved in we had this icky yellow/off white color on the wall the reminded me of a smokers home. A new, fresh palette really made a huge difference. Adding in some personal items and lots of love have definitely made this house a home.

I can honestly say that I love our new home. Moving here has allowed us to be so much closer to family and friends and we love the simplicity of being able to call someone and meet up the same day, instead of making travel plans days/weeks in advance. I feel like this area is a step up from where we were before and as much as I loved the college town atmosphere, it's nice to be somewhere different and more...evolved. Living in town in so convenient for running to the store to pick things up and close to local events. Having the high school and middle school nearby is great for all the extras they provide (pool, tennis courts, track, football stadium). This small town atmosphere is definitely something I admire and am so thankful to have.

Here are a few photos of the home and projects we have completed so far. For now, I'm going to just show the living room and family room area.

Before: Living room looking into the family room.

Before: Living room (love the big picture window)

Before: Keeping Ryan busy with all the painting.
Before: Our old frumpy furniture (which now has a new home in the basement)
After: New furniture (FIL gave it to us because too large for his new home) & rug that we LOVE. Such a step up! Still need window treatment and a hanging light in the top left corner.

Cozy fireplace that is getting a TON of use already. 

Christmas Love

Our musical corner: Piano from my childhood home that my parents gave us and guitar from my dad. The area to the left leads to our dining room and kitchen. 

 Do you have any home projects that you are working on right now or the near future?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 1 & 2 #Elf4Health Recap: Homemade Cards

The #Elf4Health challenge has been going great so far. Meatless Monday was a pretty good success and day two was a task that I was really excited for because it gave me an excuse to be creative AND get in touch with those most important to me. I had been planning on making all my own Christmas cards this year and this was a perfect start to it. The #Elf4Health task for day 2 was to send a handwritten note. I took it a step further and also made all my cards using my Silhouette machine (similar to a Cricut). 

Lately, I've been really wanting to get my creative spark going again and this seemed like a great activity to do it. I'm really happy with how they turned out and hope that the recipients enjoy them too. I really love handwritten notes and hate that email is taking away from that tradition. There is just something about a hand-written note that makes it that much more special than some plain text on a computer. Maybe because it feels like a tangible part of the person and their personality. Am I the only one that feels that way? I doubt it. 

Below are the cards that I made yesterday to be sent out to friends and family. I still need to make about 10+ more of them and hope to finish them by the end of the week.

This challenge reminded me about all the handwritten notes and cards I have at my parents from high school. They are locked up in a toolbox in the attic so I'm hoping to stop by there soon and hopefully be able to crack the passcode to get into it. I think it will be a great laugh to see those from the past and our silly antics. 

Do you miss the art of handwritten notes? 
Did you take part in day two of #Elf4Health? 
Did you save your notes from high school?

Monday, November 26, 2012

#Elf4Health Challenge! Are you part of it?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and spent lots of time with their families, took a moment to be thankful for all that you have and indulge on some of the goodies that are so popular this time of year. Although I had to work, I'm more than thankful to have a job in this tough time, a brand new house, an amazing and supportive husband and a healthy family that I can always count on. I count my lucky stars every day for being so happy and strive to fully appreciate everything, and everyone, that I have.

I'm also thankful that I came across Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean and Elle at Nutrionella blog's because of the #Elf4Health challenge!

This challenge is great for the holiday season because it encompasses so many different aspects of health (nutrition, physical activity, emotional, philanthropy, you name it!) and also includes a HUGE network of support. This kind of thing is right up my alley of favorite things. Everyone can always use a cheerleader and pat on the back to help make them reach their goals. The health promotion and education nerd in me is loving this type of program and major kudos to the gal's for organizing this huge challenge (over 600 participants in the first 2 weeks)! I love challenges that have a group mentality. Having a group of people for support makes it much easier when you may struggles, gives you someone(s) to bounce ideas off of and/or get motivation and helps to hold you accountable.

The challenge runs for 6 weeks with daily tasks, winners and sponsors, support through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Each person is paired up with a "health elf" for 2 week periods. The first period I am paired up with Bridget from British Columbia and from the bits I've gathered so far she is pretty darn hardworking and inspirational with the athletic feats that she's already conquered (half marathons!). 

If you're interested, you can still join! You won't be paired up with a partner for the first segment, but you can still participate and sign up for a partner for the next round. 

Here's a brief look at the current week's tasks:

Go meatless today.
Show us what you make!

Good Elf Ideas: Email your buddy quick & easy veggie recipe to try - either one of your favorites or one you've been wanting to try. You can always share one of our picks below, too!

Send a card or handwritten note to a friend.

Include a small newspaper or magazine clipping that made you think of them.
Other possible recipients: a sibling, extended family member, a friend you've made through blogging/social media, a childhood friend, someone you haven't talked to lately.

Try a new workout today!
Show us what you did to sweat!

Good Elf Ideas: Help your buddy find a new way to enjoy being active. If they're at your fitness level, send them one of your favorite home workouts or ask them what they struggle with when it comes to exercise and offer other suggestons. If they are new to exercising, it can be as simple as taking the stairs twice per day or parking farther away from stores when running errands.

Get up 15 minutes early to meditate and reflect. 

Good Elf Ideas: Share an article about the benefits of meditation with your buddy.

How many colors can you eat today? Challenge yourself!
Post pictures of your colorful eats in our Facebook Group, on Instagram or by Tweeting. Email photos to your elves!

Good Elf Ideas: Send your buddy a recipe to try with lots of different colored veggies or a fruit salad. Tell them why it's important to eat different colors!

You can see all the tasks for the next 6 weeks here and more information here. Don't forget to use the hashtag, #Elf4Health when posting!

Are you participating in #Elf4Health? What challenges do you think will be most difficult for you? Do you like having a group or person to hold you accountable?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

RANT: Ann Coulter and the R Word

Ann Coulter is in a binder all her that that seems to get off on making fun of those that are the most innocent.

Her blatant statements using the word retard, is completely unacceptable and childish. I'd expect better out of someone that is in the public eye so often (not that I ever agree with her beliefs, but that's another post on it's own). If she was using the word in a more medical sense than I wouldn't give a crap. Using in this context is implying "stupid" or "slow."

If you're not sure what I'm talking about here are a a few screenshots of her ignorant postings on Twitter:

When she uses the R word in that way she offends many who are affected by someone with a mental or developmental handicap or ability, including their family, friends, coworkers, teachers, and so on. Bottom line, it's hateful, disgusting and insulting. You offend people like me and my family. People like my sister who is mentally and physically handicap. People like my brother in law with autism. People like a girl I grew up with that has Down's Syndrome. Other HUMANS! Have some respect already.

Using these word so freely in a insulting context and without regard for others takes away from those that are afflicted. It makes it seem as if it's okay and acceptable to use (the same goes for saying, "so and so is so gay"). I'm sure her main thing was making sure to get what she says out there and noticed, which she did at the expense of so many others.

I think that Jeff Goins Writer said it well:

"The bottom line is this: If you look closely enough, people are following you. Someone is watching your every move. Maybe it’s a friend or a sibling or even one of your followers on social media. Someone is seeing what you’re about.

And when you open your mouth and words like “retard” come out, well, it makes you look dumb. And a bigot. And kind of a jerk.

That’s not what you want to be remembered for, right?

Make a decision to stop today. Please. This word affects people in ways that hurt far worse that you can imagine. There are so many more beautiful and wonderful-sounding words that could come out of your mouth than that stupid R-word."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Calling all tomato (red) faces!

Ok, I have a confession...

My face turns beet red pretty much every time that I workout. I'm not talking about a healthy pink glow, but more like a bright red. It's especially worse if it happens to be a hot and humid day, which in Michigan is most of the summer. It's sometimes to the point that it's embarrassing and I can feel people staring at me with a worried expression like I'm going to stroke out.

It sucks. I feel fine when like this, but it's more of an annoyance than anything else.

As if having people constantly be worried about you and questioning if you're alright isn't bad enough, it last forever! After a long run or cardio workout the red sticks around for hours. It's to the point that I have to make sure to allow enough cooling time afterwards to let my face get back to a normal color before heading out in public or going to work. Trying to put makeup on after a red faced workout is pretty impossible too.

This is barely a glow compared to the normal (only after a warm-up).
The only thing that I've found that helps is splashing my face with cold water continuously afterwards and standing in front of a fan on high. I've seen lots of cooling towels/hats lately that you freeze so maybe one of these days I'll give those a try. I'm digging the weather lately because the cool weather seems to knock down the redness a notch or two.

Are you a fellow tomato face? 
Have you tried any of the cooling towels or hats?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Feeling melancholy tonight...

To be honest, I'm feeling pretty crappy tonight. Family things are going on and things out of my control. Just remember friends, always tell those around you how much they mean to you. Don't let too much time pass before reaching out to say hello or that you're thinking about really is the small things that matter. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Run4Wine had me at wine!

This past week Ryan and I ran the Run4Wine Race in Grand Blanc, Michigan. I had signed us up for this race months ago a week after I had taken a nasty fall while trail running and sprained my midfoot (the sprain that prevented me from running for 10 weeks) and needed something to work towards and not be so pissed about hurting myself. Can I just say how glad I am to have found this race because it was AWESOME! I was a little hesitant going into this race since I spent the night before with the flu and becoming BFF's with our toilet. I'm so glad that I decided to go through with it anyways.

When we pulled into the parking lot it was already packed and we made our way up to to pick up our race pack. I couldn't believe it when I saw that there was 800 people signed up for the race and more signing up the hour beforehand. I have to say there was some sweet swag for this race and especially for the cheap sign-up (we paid under $25 each).

Included was:
-Sweet New Balance shirt
-Custom wine glass w/logo
-Buffet dinner (we ate LOTS..bonus in my book)
-One drink ticket (wine, beer or pop)
-Tons of wine tasting (wish I had felt 100% to take advantage of it more)
-Cover band

This will definitely be getting it's fair share of use. ;)
Bright pink and reflective! Ooo!

So much tasty food...not gonna lie, we had heaping plates full.
This is before it was ravaged by all the hungry runners.

Wine, wine, wine...yum! Definitely going to Fenton Winery &
Brewery to pick up some wine.

First off, I really liked the course. The 4 mile run was on the golf course, with lots of rolling hills which was a nice extra challenge and a wicked wind (freaking 30-35 mph gusts was just lovely). There were a few spots where the sprinklers were that posed some potential hazards and an excess of goose poop to navigate around though. Ryan and I split up at the beginning since he runs quicker than I and I tend to bonk out if I try to keep his pace (someday I'll get there), but was able to find a couple other runners to pace myself with.

The after party was great too with lots of BBQ fare foods to nosh on, lots of wine samples, bands and a pretty fun group of people. I really wish at times that we had more friends that were into fitness events because this would have been a group event to have a group of friends to run with. 

Hubs and I before the race began.

Lots of pretty trees changing along the way. 

At the finish line....before the race. Like how we're color coordinated?
Totally not planned. 

All in all, we had a great time. We hung out a bit at the end and enjoyed some wine samples and the band, but unfortunately I wasn't feeling the best still so we kind of ended the night earlier than planned. Ryan came in 7th place in his age group and I came in 8th so I'm pretty happy with that since I hadn't ran in about a week and also wasn't feeling that great after praising to the porcelain god the night before. This year was the first time they've done this run and I really hope they do it again. I was amazed how well it was put on for such a large crowd and first time event.

What's my next race? I'm not sure yet! There are a couple of fun Halloween ones (Headless Horseman Run in Howell) that we may do if we are able. I'd like to work my way up to a 6K soon, but not sure how that'll work since winter is coming up and I don't know how I feel about winter running.

Do you have any races coming up? Do you have any tips about running in the winter?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

You've never seen a push-up like this....and I don't want to.

Yesterday I got an email for Victoria's Secret with the subject title...

"Your gym has never seen a push-up quite like this..."

Seeing as how I have an affinity for workout clothes and most Victoria's Secret items I looked further and was disappointed in what I found: a sport's push-up bra.  Really? I. Don't. Get. It.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the push-up bra for the right time and location, but the gym is not one of those areas, and shouldn't be. The last thing I want to worry about when lifting weights, doing ab exercises (can you imagine doing a plank in it and wondering where and how your boobs look? Just think about it...) and running on a treadmill (boing, boing) are my breasts. For those activities I'd rather have them securely tucked away and focus more on what I'm doing then the attention I'm getting. To me, it just sounds uncomfortable and like an accident waiting to happen (a la Janet Jackson nipple slip).  Just imagine the car honking, catcalls and so on that you'd get running out in this sports bra (it's already annoying enough at other times wearing sweaty old "conservative" sports bra's).

I guess it isn't enough that we bust butt in the gym to look good, but now we have to get dolled up and have a 'sexy style' for the gym now too (I could understand it being used for fitness competitions).  Maybe it is a great product, but this certainly is not something for me. Aside from the aesthetic look of it, I can't imagine it really being that supportive if it's also a push up and the sparkly material seems like it would really chafe the skin around your shoulder/arms.

What do you think about the new push-up sports bra?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

One of the best things we've done....Rock Climbing in West Virginia!

This past weekend was one of the greatest weekends I've had in a long time and so needed after the hustle bustle of the past month.

 A few months ago, my old college roommate and dear friend invited me on a trip to West Virginia to go rock climbing and zip-lining. I immediately said, YES! The few months prior to the trip had been a blur in between moving twice and starting a new job so the trip really crept up quickly. A few days before the trip was due I checked out the website of the place that we were going and I think my stomach dropped upon seeing the pictures. This was not the rock climbing that I expected at all. I was thinking that we would be climbing a few rock fronts, but nothing too tall or scary.  Boy, was I wrong.

The rock climbing experience that we decided on was at Nelson Rocks Outdoor Center in North Folk Valley in Pendleton County, West Virginia and we stayed at Germany Valley Cabins that were nearby. The area is known for their fin like rock formations that jet out above the mountains. The climb that we chose to do is called Via Ferrata, which means 'iron road' in Italian. These systems are found worldwide and consist of iron rungs that are implanted in the mountains. It's a mountain route of fixed iron ladders, cables and bridges that are to be utilized by climbers.

The specs of the climb we did are:

  • 3.5 miles long
  • ~1100 feet of elevation gain/loss
  • 280 feet of vertical exposure
  • A 200 foot long, 150 foot high suspension bridge
  • A top height reached of ~450 feet
  • Breathtaking views and shaking hands (just kidding, but not really)

After a 9 hour drive, a night spent by bonfire laughing and catching up with old friends and watching the Perseid meteor showers (so awesome in the pitch black night sky and so many meteors), it was finally the day to climb! After signing our life away (no really, their old waiver is crazy, funny and the most badass waiver I've ever seen: read here) , we finally suit up in our harnesses and hike the route to the beginning of the trail. WHOA, was my first thought when I looked up. Do we really want to do this? Pushing nerves aside we start the climb after explanation on how the carabiner and cable system works. The first climb was the most nerve-wracking and not because it was the most intense, but because you are learning how to use the cable system. After only a few minutes though we all were pretty comfortable with it and climbed on.

Below are just a few of the photos from our trip (here are all of them).
The view driving in was amazing! 
Our idyllic cabin for the weekend!

The view off the deck of our amazing cabin. Mountains surrounded us completely. 

Lots of cows that followed us all around the property.

The four people it took to start a fire ;)

Hubs and I before the climb started.

The view after the first part of the climb...still have a long way to go.

Handsome hubby at the turn of the fin. Gorgeous scenery at this point and a bit ore challenging maneuver to get around to the other side.

At the edge of the fin.

Looking down at Angie and Jim. Getting high by this point.

Good view of the treetops.

The scary suspension bridge. The wind of course picked up at the time I had to cross and it swayed pretty god, especially once there was more than one person on it.

The slats were pretty far apart...nice view of the ground 150 feet below. Eeek!

View from the top. I feel like we were looking down from a plane. 

Superman atop the mountain top!


If you look closely, you can see the suspension bridge we crossed earlier in the climb.

The whole group at the summit!

The watering hole at Seneca Rocks. We took a dip after the climb because we were burning up being in the sun all afternoon.

Hazy sunset our last night at the cabin.

If you've ever contemplated rock climbing or a via ferrata climb I highly recommend giving it a go! This was one of the coolest mini vacations that we've done. Aside from West Virginia, there are also climbs available in Colorado, Kentucky, Utah, Arizona, Tennessee, Canada and other countries. 

Have you been rock climbing or tried a Via Ferrata climb before? Would you like to? Would a fear of heights stop you from doing something like this?