Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Give and Get

I should be going to bed happy because I finally have 2 days off in a row, but I'm too stressed! I have (very belated) plans to go car insurance shopping and DMV-sitting tomorrow. I fully anticipate this taking all day. Not my idea of a low-stress day off, but it's my own fault for putting it off for so long. So instead of lying in bed stressing about something that I can't change (it HAS to get done this week and no one can do it for me), I'll blog.

A few days ago, out of nowhere, I decided it was time to clean the closet and go through my old clothes.

I think it was guilt due to buying a new skirt and running pants, an iPod (totally unused at the best price ever), and 2 new books.

Either way, Ross was so excited I volunteered to clean something that he practically jumped away from the computer to help!

I'm a pack rat. I love getting new things (although I restrain myself and hardly ever do), but I have a hard time letting go of old things.

Exhibit A:

Guess when I bought those jean shorts in the top left corner?

1998, baby. That's vintage Old Navy! And I probably wore them as recently as last summer (*hangs head in shame*). The other two are from high school, and probably getting a little too short for a 25 year old.

Exhibit B:

One of my favorite "nice" outfits in college.

Ross thinks it's hideous.

Exhibit C:

My beloved reversible dress from Express for junior prom. (That's junior in high school, of course).

I think it looks hot with the ankle socks.

Sadly, all of these (and much, much more) went in a pile.

And that pile joined the other piles in the bag.

And now our closet looks beautiful.

If only I could organize the rest of my life in the space of an hour!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Today Was a Good Day

Just waking up in the mornin' gotta thank God
I don't know but today seems kinda odd
No chirpin' from the locusts, no pain
Sunny ev'n though tomorrow calls for rain
I got my grub on, but didn't pig out
Got a call from Johanna wants to hang out 
Lookin' forward to lunch as I hit the do'
Happy to be off work another twenty-fo'

Had to stop at a red light
Lookin in my mirror and not a cop in sight
And everything is alright
I got a text from Merrell, 'bout a wedding in November 
When I last saw her I can't remember.
Went to the dog park with Jo, Tag, and Toby

Had a Sheridan's sundae for dinner
Got my books in the mail, feel like a winner

I got to sleep in and I ran a 5k
I can't believe, today was a good day

(For best results, rap to the tune of Ice Cube's "Today Was a Good Day." But don't look up the real lyrics. Please. It's a terrible song and I'm ashamed I even know parts of it.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010


It's the end of a long, busy weekend at work and I'm exhausted, but I can't sleep. I feel like I'm waiting for something to happen, but I'm not sure what it is.  In the words of my friend Johanna, "I want to DO, but what? I want to GO, but where?"  I mean, really, I want to SLEEP right now, but these are the bigger questions.

I don't know if I'm on the verge of something great? Figuring out the secret to happiness overnight?  (Doubt it).

I wonder if it's the change of seasons. We got a hint of fall last week, but now it's back into the 90s and muggy! Apparently Seasonal Affective Disorder can be applicable to any season that lasts too long. The days are getting shorter, but summer is lasting way too long! Have I been away from the Midwest for too long? September is coming up and that means fall, right?

The locusts in the tree outside our apartment are going crazy around the clock. It's like they know to "rage, rage, against the dying of the light." I would if I could. Instead, I'll sit here and wait for inner peace and all good things to come to me. Or sleep, whichever comes first ;-)

Something to think about: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -Howard Washington Thurman

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Attitude Adjustment

I have an old co-worker who said commented on facebook about how she hates working all weekend and one of her friends responded, "poor you. You work 3 days a week." I had to exit out of facebook before responding to this perfect stranger with some snooty comment. 

Most nurses I know work at least 40 hours a week, often more. We work nights, weekends, and holidays. Even if we are working "just" 3 days a week, we're on our feet for a lot of it, dealing with difficult people, crying babies, snapping co-workers, and the like. I leave the house before 6:30am and don't get home until 8:00 or 8:30pm most days. And unless you're travel nurse or working overtime, you don't always feel that you're monetarily compensated for this work. I have plenty of friends who make more money than me at their office jobs.

I know, I know, stop whining. I have to tell myself that a lot. I also have plenty of friends with a college education who can't find a job. I should be thankful mine is relatively secure. But I'm in a funk at work now that my primary has gone home. I don't even have a short snuggle with her to look forward to on the days that my alarm goes off at 5:30am! The good thing about a primary patient going home is that you can go back to more critical babies and do a few admissions to brush up on your skills. However, we have SO. MANY. orientees right now, that hasn't been happening for me either. And when I'm only taking care of level 2 babies, it's hard to motivate myself to study for the RNC exam. Eek!

I need an attitude adjustment. It's going to be a miserable fall if I continue to dread going to work like I do right now.
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than educatoin, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home...

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."

-Chuck Swindoll

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mixed Feelings

A few trees are starting to change colors around our apartment already, days are getting shorter, mornings are cooler, and kids are Ross is heading off to school.

On one hand, I'm SO ready for fall: a month and a half of 100-degree days with blazing sunshine and stifling humidity got old fast. On the other hand, fall turns into winter and my inner heart of hearts has still not thawed out from last year's terrible re-introduction to the Midwest. Could we keep the sunshine and ice-free roads, but drop down to 60-70 degree temperatures? Oh wait, I guess I'd have to migrate south to find that.

This week is confusing me. It was in the 60s when I woke up, but it's already sunny and 80-something out there now. On one hand, I plan to bake this afternoon and pretend it's chilly enough outside to justify it. On the other hand, I wimped out in the bright sunshine and did today's run on the treadmill in the air conditioning.

Speaking of running, I'm signed up for my first official 10k and next week I plan to sign up for my first official half marathon. On one hand, I am so excited that the ball is finally rolling toward my first marathon- I've wanted to run one since I was 17!  On the other hand, my two-mile speed workout this morning was hard enough. I can't imagine adding another 24 miles to that!

Something I heard recently: Fitness is about gaining strength, not losing weight.

Thank goodness! Because I made cookies after my run.

Yes, I got this recipe from Eat, Live, Run and yes, I'm obsessed with that blog. I realize it's a problem. But the author is a fellow baker and bookworm. She confesses her love of Little House on the Prairie for crying out loud! A woman after my own heart. Plus, if these cookies are wrong, I don't want to be right!

How could you go wrong with these ingredients?

In the mix:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 c white sugar
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375. Sift or whisk together the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl.

Put 9 Tbsp of the butter in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat. Allow the butter to melt for 2 minutes and begin to swirl it around the pan, allowing it to brown. Keep the butter moving so it doesn’t burn. Browning should take about 3 minutes and you’ll know it’s done when it smells nutty and it has a dark golden brown color. Remove the pan from the heat and use a heat-safe spatula to transfer the butter to a large, heat-safe mixing bowl. Add the remaining 3 Tbsp of cold butter to the melted butter, and stir gently until it is melted.

Add the white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and salt to the butter and whisk the ingredients together. Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk for 30 seconds until mixture is smooth. Allow the batter to rest for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds more. Do this two more times; the end result should be thick and shiny.

Y'all, I wish you could smell this. Pure caramel.

 Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined, about 1 minute. Gently stir in chocolate chips. The batter will be soft.

Form each cookie with roughly 1 Tbsp of dough. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheets and bake one tray at a time, 10 to 12 minutes, on the middle rack of your oven. Rotate baking sheet after 5 minutes and check the cookies at 10; you want them to be golden brown and set around the edges, but puffy in the middle.

Allow to cool on the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

On one hand, this recipe is too caramel-y and rich for me to attack as the dough-monster that I am (that's probably a good thing). On the other hand, once baked these cookies are perfect and I could eat the entire batch in one sitting. I have mixed feelings about that idea.

Monday, August 23, 2010


In the past 2 years, I've made my own bread and my own yogurt, attempted a garden, and focused on local food and real food as much as possible. It's shocking that in my quest to be "crunchy" (as Ross says) I haven't actually made my own granola.  Until today!  I based mine off of this recipe and even Ross loved it!


3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups oat bran
1/2 cup honey
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup chopped dried dates

(I got all the ingredients at The Merc in Lawrence. If I can't have Central Market, The Merc is the next best thing. And it's a little cheaper than Whole Paycheck Whole Foods.)


Preheat the oven to 400. Spread out the rolled oats and oat bran evenly on two baking sheets. Toast for 5-8 minutes, or until golden.

In a small saucepot, simmer the honey and vanilla extract over low heat for five to seven minutes. In another pot, combine the apple juice and dried fruits. Simmer for about five minutes or until soft. Drain.

In a large bowl, combine the oat mixture and dried fruit. Stir in the warm honey and stir to coat the oat mixture as evenly as possible.


Spread the oat mixture evenly onto two baking sheets and bake for ten to fifteen minutes, or until golden brown, stirring every two minutes to prevent burning.

Cool granola completely and then store in an airtight container for up to one month.

Ours will not live to see September at the rate we're going!

Serving suggestion: eat it as muesli, as suggested in the same blog post I got the granola recipe from (click on the link at the beginning of the post). For one person, I mixed 1/3 cup granola, 1/3 cup plain unsweetened yogurt, 1/3 cup milk, and a drizzle of honey.

I let this soak in the fridge for about 10 minutes and then added a sliced pear.  YUMMY.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Change the way you see, not the way you look

If you watch Oprah or Good Morning America, you may have already heard about Operation Beautiful this summer. I heard about it because the author, Caitlin Boyle, also writes one of my favorite blogs: Healthy Tipping Point. In honor of her book being published, she dedicated a week of blogging to discussing how women need to change the way they see themselves, instead of focusing so much on hating the way they look.
Spring Break 2006
It's almost embarrassing to talk about this, because I'm 25 and married. I have a good job and a good life. Yet put me in front of the mirror for too long and I'll go crazy. Most days, I don't wear makeup. Some people would mistakenly think I make that choice because I'm so comfortable in my own skin. In fact, it's because when I really try to do my makeup and hair for a special occasion, it never turns out the way I had hoped. I get discouraged and end up feeling less attractive than I did before putting effort into my appearance.

I am slowly learning to see the merit in dressing up and feeling better about myself (a 'fake it 'til you make it' approach). But most days you'll either find me in my scrubs, workout clothes, or sweats with no makeup, and my hair in a ponytail.

Amarillo 2007
I'm big on negative self-talk. It's a habit I've been trying to break ever since I started reading positive blogs like Caitlin's, but it's a long process. It doesn't help when I work with all women. As a group, we are catty. We gossip. Not only are we not supportive of each other as often as we should be, but we're often not supportive of ourselves.  It breaks my heart when I see a friend struggling, yet I think nothing of beating myself up for my supposed flaws. I'm an intelligent woman. I know this doesn't make sense. But how can it stop?

Part of my answer is seeing that other women have moved beyond it. Many of the blogs I list as my favorites are more than just food blogs. These are women my age writing about being healthy in the real world-- physically and MENTALLY. They are not diet blogs. These bloggers bake amazing cookies with real butter. They train for and run ultra-marathons in addition to working full-time jobs. They publish books at the age of 26. It's amazing what you can accomplish when your mind and body work together instead of against each other.
Colorado 2009
I took a picture of my own Operation Beautiful note this morning and actually thought, "maybe I should put makeup on to cover this huge pimple on my forehead and the circles under my eyes. I look gross." But then I caught myself in the middle of negative self-talk! Ashamed, I took the picture and walked away.
Ross didn't know this was my handwriting. Boys.
Afterward, I went to my friend Tiffany's apartment to do a ballet DVD. She's the one who got me into ballet back in 3rd grade! We talked and worked out for 30 minutes. Good for the body and the heart.

Early in the afternoon, I took cupcakes to work to say goodbye to my primary and my associate patient. (They both went home on the same day. Work will be sad for a little while.)  I bought a treat for myself, too, and enjoyed it with relish!
Chocolate! Picture courtesy of Dolce Baking Company's website.
Then I went to Lawrence with Ross and hung out at a coffee shop while he went to his first grad school class of the semester. We went to dinner at The Local Burger and grocery shopping at The Merc. It was the most time we'd spent together in a long time, between me traveling and our opposite work schedules. We had fun talking about nothing and everything.

This evening, I was running on the treadmill and it faces a mirror. I could have been thinking, "eww that jiggles" or, "maybe I shouldn't wear spandex this tight." Instead, I only 'allowed' myself to think positive things like, "it's awesome that you actually went running after putting it off all day!" And "look how strong your legs have gotten." Corny as that is, it actually did cheer me up!

There are a few posts from "Change the Way You See, Not the Way You Look" week that really resonated with me.  One was by a mom named Sarah who is raising two little girls. She says she actually wanted to have girls in hopes of raising "confident, strong, and secure girls since I never was myself." She has a few ideas about how to do this, and I recognize these as things my own mom did as well: Value girls for who they are instead of what the look like. Don't talk about other people's bodies. Lead by example. Sarah says,
Somewhere along the way in my first few years of parenting girls, my own confidence grew and my acting became believing.  I thought about how I would feel if my girls scrutinized themselves they way I had.  I looked at their rounded bellies, their full cheeks and chins and their dimply thighs and imagined what I would tell them if they agonized over these “flaws.”  Most of all though, I worried about how I could teach them about valuing themselves and valuing others beyond what they saw in the mirror, if I wasn’t willing to give that gift to myself.
She ends her amazing post by asking, if you could write an Operation Beautiful note to your teenage self, what would you say?  I thought about it, and there are thousands of things I'd like to warn myself about. But considering that most of high school I was very preoccupied with my body, I think the message that would stick the most is, "being skinny won't make you happy. But being happy will make you feel beautiful!"

High school friends the summer we graduated
Looking back, the pictures I love most are those in which I'm happy, regardless of where I was in my body struggles at the time.  I've been relatively the same size for about 7 years now, but that can look very different (to me at least) from one picture to the next. The genuine smiles and glowing cheeks are what make the pictures look good or bad.  With this in mind, I actually like the pictures of me from my recent trip to Texas. I was having fun and I was in a comfortable environment. BLISS. (I'm convinced this is why kids can't take bad pictures. They're always so happy!)

Avery and me at Central Market
On the other hand, it's really hard to like what you see in the mirror when you know you haven't been nice to your body. Most recently, I hated how I looked on night shift. I was always puffy and tired. I ate anything and everything at work just to stay awake. Junk food at 3am makes you feel better briefly, but it makes you feel so much worse in the long run. Especially when it becomes a regular occurrence. Yes, I was working out during this time, but I was unhappy, unhealthy overall, and overtired.

A blogger named Emilie also recognizes this connection.  In her post, she says,
It's wonderful to be positive and to tell women:  "You are beautiful just they way you are."  And I love the sentiment behind Operation Beautiful, but Caitlin's mission, I think, is even more rich than that.  Some women look at themselves in the mirror and don't like what they see no matter what they see, and Caitlin is striving to teach women not to be so hard on themselves.  But for a lot of women, and this was true for me, the negative self image is connected to the knowledge that there needed to be some lifestyle changes.  I didn't like how I looked at all a few years ago, when I also knew that I needed to get myself in shape and start making healthier choices.  Now I'm pretty satisfied because what I see in the mirror, while by no means perfect, is coupled with my knowledge that I'm eating healthy and exercising regularly. 
This definitely clicked with me. I feel better about myself now that I'm running than I did 8 months ago, even though I haven't really lost weight. There have been several points in my life when my negative self image is connected to the knowledge that I need to make some lifestyle changes. It was impossible (and it almost felt hypocritical) for me to look in the mirror this last winter and think, you're perfect the way you are. I knew things needed to change. In junior high, my mom gave me a Christian book about inner beauty and one of the things that has stuck with me is that God can say, I love you just the way you are, and I love you too much to let you stay the way you are. We need to learn to tell ourselves the same thing sometimes.

Florida Keys 2009
The third post that really stood out to me was by an awesome girl named Angela. Her blog is positive, uplifting, and real. She's so good at putting things into words. I read her writing and think it's like she read my mind! She's a few steps ahead of me on the self-acceptance thing, though. Her post was on the idea of a 'happy weight.'  She says,
I always told myself in 10 pounds, I would finally be happy. All I had to do was lose 10 pounds and achieve ‘x’ weight and my life would fall into place. In 10 pounds, I could eat normally, binges would stop, and I could stop hating myself. All I had to do was lose 10 pounds and my problems would be solved. I would love myself in 10 pounds….but not yet.
Sound familiar? I recognize a lot of myself in this attitude, and I'm slowly coming to terms with it. When you think about it, isn't it obvious that when you allow an extrinsic factor to determine your happiness, you will never be happy?! In the end, Angela knows she's at her 'happy weight' now, but she doesn't know what that actual number is. And that's okay.

Here's her Operation Beautiful note:

There's a quote from the book Eat, Pray, Love that I highlighted a while ago (I'd also like to say I fell in love with the book when the movie was just a twinkle in Elizabeth Gilbert's eye). Gilbert is journaling as her life falls apart around her and says,
This is what I find myself writing to myself on the page: I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long. I will stay with you…There is nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.
Tonight, this strange interior gesture of friendship- the lending of a hand from me to myself- reminds me of something that happened to me in New York City. I walked into an office building and dashed into the elevator. As I rushed in, I caught an unexpected glimpse of myself in the mirror. In that moment my brain did an odd thing- it fired off this split-second message: ‘Hey! You know her! That’s a friend of yours!' And I actually ran forward toward my own reflection with a smile, ready to welcome that girl whose name I had lost but whose face was so familiar. In a flash instant, of course, I realized my mistake and laughed in embarrassment at my almost doglike confusion over how a mirror works. But for some reason that incident comes to mind again tonight during my sadness in Rome and I find myself writing this comforting reminder at the bottom of the page: Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.”
Amarillo 2007
Some of the things I say to myself, I would never dream of saying out loud to a friend I loved. It would hurt their feelings and damage our friendship. (More to the point, I have never even thought these things about my friends because physical appearance is not what makes me love them.) So why on earth do I continue to say these things to myself? When it comes to broken hearts, I have no one to blame but myself. Treating myself with kindness should be the rule, not the exception.

Canada 2008
Finally, about my own Operation Beautiful note. The Serenity Prayer is wonderful because it's so applicable to so many situations:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. 
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Friends at my bachelorette party in 2008
I CAN do my part to reach out and make friends. I can train for a marathon and fuel my body with real food. I cannot change my weak chin or crooked nose. But with time and practice (and certainly a generous amount of gentle forgiveness) I can learn to accept those things the way they are. I can't change the way I look, but I can change the way I see.

Wedding day 2008

Monday, August 16, 2010

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I adapted this yummy, easy-to-make cookie idea based off of this recipe on my friend Amari's blog.

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chunks (I used semisweet, but dark chocolate would be good, too)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour
3 Tbs. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350*F. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In separate bowl, mix oil, syrup, applesauce, and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until moist. Lightly spray a baking sheet with oil and spoon rounded tablespoons of batter onto baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool briefly. Transfer cookies to cooling rack and enjoy!

Packing these in my lunch box will help me get through working over 62 hours in the next 6 days. A girl can dream, right?!

Own It

Ross and I ran 4 miles this morning! Well, we ran 5 minutes and walked 1 minute and repeated that pattern until we'd covered the distance we needed. But 4 miles is still 4 miles and I'm going to own that accomplishment! It took long enough to get here. 


The farthest I've ever run in my life is 13.1 miles, but that was 7 years ago. So for now, 4 miles is a new personal distance record (PDR).  Running in the shade and the slightly cooler weather helped so much! As did a good iPod mix. And knowing Ross was behind me, expecting me to finish.

 On to Week 4 of my 10k training plan!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Betsy" Ross

Ross and I both worked the 4th of July this year, which means bonus money! When the holiday paychecks finally came, we Ross decided to buy an iPad. Apple had a sale in early July and ran out of iPads, so they gave a Ross a voucher (not as nice as the sale, but still a discount) and he bought one a few weeks after that. He loves it. I'm not as enamored, but it's funny to see how excited he gets.

However, all the iPad covers he looked at were ugly and over-priced. So in true designer fashion, he decided to make his own. He even dug out the sewing machine (thanks Grandma)! It took several days, but the final product looks great.

Note the "R" in the corner. I like it!