Friday, June 29, 2012

My "Let's Get Real" Diet



“Who says you’re not perfect”
 -Selena Gomez (don’t laugh. I’m serious.)

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
- Salvador Dalí (I mean, let’s be honest.)

“This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfection.”
- Saint Augustine (and be OKAY with that.)

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
-Dr. Seuss (can’t forget this one.)


What can you take away from these quotes?

How do you think they correlate to the title of this post?

What is the message the author is trying to convey?

I feel like a high school English teacher.

Let’s get real, ladies. We are never going to look a Barbie doll. We aren’t going to have that unnaturally skinny waist and be perfectly toned with great bone structure and not-too-over-the-top curves.
Is this what you want to look like?!
Image source

Because we are not airbrushed, full of silicone, botox-injected, digitally retouched - and we certainly don’t have our own staff of personal trainers, dieticians, and personal chefs preparing expensive-trendy-health food for us at every meal. You cannot trust any image shown on the internet or on tv or in magazines to be real. Photoshop has done a great job at making women feel crappier and crappier about themselves as the years go by. It’s no wonder virtually EVERY woman in America has self-image issues.

I’ve spent my fair share of time recently watching shows like TLC’s What Not To Wear and Say ‘Yes’ To the Dress. It breaks my heart that basically every single woman breaks down in tears because there is some part of her body that simply repulses her or makes her self-conscious and hinders her ability to feel beautiful. I can’t help but blame the media and EVERYONE in Hollywood and trends in society. Thanks a lot, guys. You’ve (collectively) made yourselves feel better by being increasingly fake while putting everyone else’s self confidence in the gutter.

Why do we always compare ourselves to those standards? We’re all guilty of doing it. It’s so unrealistic. The “rich and famous” don’t live a life anywhere near what the rest of us do. The only reason we are unsatisfied with how we look is because we see them and think, “if I could look like that, I would be happier”. How can you be so sure? What difference would it really make if your shoulders weren’t so broad or your tummy wasn’t as jiggly or your toes weren’t so goofy looking or you do or you don’t have freckles or straight hair or curly hair or pale skin or small breasts or big breasts or CELULITE or maybe you SWEAT A LOT or have BIG FEET or CROOKED TEETH and on and on and on the list goes! The only reason we notice these things about ourselves is simply because we have another body to compare ourselves against. If we all looked the same, I’d bet nobody would care.

Let’s get real - nobody is perfect. That saying gets real old in some contexts. But in this one, it couldn’t be more true. There are some decent “Hollywood-ites”, as I will call them, who are actually REAL and humble and will admit their faults or weaknesses or imperfections and have chosen not to alter themselves in unnatural ways. Everybody has something they don’t like about themselves. And what is “perfect” when it comes to body image? Everyone likes different things. I have had to come to terms with my curvy body that’s here to stay after almost a decade from my previous runner’s body of 6 years (man, time flies!). I know that I could make a whole list of things I’d like to improve about my body, but only compared to what MY body used to be. I know where I’ve been and what is realistic for my body type. My butt isn’t going anywhere, and neither are my thighs. There’s no point for me to waste time and energy to attempt to trim down those areas just to be frustrated with my attempts. I got curves for a reason! And I don’t really care if my spandex workout capris make my butt look big. I don’t care if my face is a mess because I have on no makeup (that one took me awhile to get over).  If you are at the gym to gawk at people, then you are there for the wrong reasons. No one is going to remember that girl who was all sweaty and gross looking because we all look that way at the gym. When I am at the gym, I am focused on my workout and pushing myself to do my best. We all wish we could run as fast as others or run for longer or lift more or whatever, but I have my own agenda in my mind at the gym. If I am looking at other people instead of focusing on my goals, it’s simply to check out other people’s workouts and see if I could adapt that to mine. Or I am admiring someone’s endurance and thinking, “Good for her. She’s working hard”. I am always cheering on other women at the gym in my head, because, let’s get real – working out SUCKS! I can replay my track coach yelling at me to run “all the way through” and visualize past running events, but some don’t have a way to self-motivate. So I cheer for them. And I am cheering for you.

Pinterest is full of workout ideas and suddenly ALL these girls posting their silly skinny photos with a link to their blogs complete with meal plans and workout routines. No offense to them, but that is all garbage to the rest of us. I’m gonna workout when I feel like it, doing the workouts that I like, and eat what I want, when I want. And no, I’m not going to look like you in that photo because that’s not me.

LET’S GET REAL!!

I love food too much to completely cut out ENTIRE food groups. That’s just nonsense. Then you are technically malnourished because you have an unbalanced diet and are missing important nutrients that your body needs. I like to find healthy trends that incorporate mostly healthy options. And sometimes I come home with a box of donuts.

But then again, I hate food because I know it is a LARGE factor in the change in my body over the last several years (example: the box of donuts, haha).

I hate working out. It’s so much work, time, and energy…and sweat. And it means I have to get off the couch. Or out of bed – morning workouts are near impossible for me. Just ask my husband.

But I ABSOLUTELY love that post-workout feel. I NEVER regret going to the gym. It just makes me feel healthier.

In conclusion, I encourage all you ladies to BE REAL. BE HAPPY. BE YOU. This will take some time if you are just beginning this road of mentally coaching yourself to have a more positive self-image. And I’m talking years. And so what? You will end up being happier for it in the long run. Start by taking baby steps out of your comfort zone and repeating to yourself “I don’t care what people think about the way I look. I'm happy with me.” Just practice that. Who wants to spend their life wishing to be someone they’re not?

What is YOUR “Let’s Get Real” Diet?

I will proudly wear clothes that feature my curves. And I will enjoy those donuts. And sweat like a pig at the gym. And not care what anyone thinks about my body.

And yes, my tummy spills over the waist on my pants sometimes.

Just being real.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Caramel Apple "Rice Krispies" Treats

One of my favorite things about cooking is that there are so many recipes where you can tailor it based upon what you have in your pantry. It allows you to have a little creativity if you are not able to completely cook from scratch and still want your food to turn out edible. :) I enjoy watching the show Chopped on Food Network and I've always wished that I had some of that talent! So for now, I just settled on my own variation of Rice Krispies Treats. 

I recently bought the newest variation of Cheerios - Dulce de Leche. I thought that would be a good alternative to Rice Krispies.

Seeing as how I have already enjoyed a couple of bowls of this cereal, there was not enough left to make a whole pan. It just so happened that I also had a box of this:
...and voila! I new recipe has been born. And here's what I did - start by putting one stick of butter and a bag of marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high heat for 2 - 3 minutes.
I reserved one marshmallow to put in my container of brown sugar - I read on pinterest that the marshmallow can help keep the brown sugar from hardening. We'll see if it works!

 Once the butter has melted and the marshmallows have become gooey, stir to combine.

Gradually add your cheerios. How much, you may ask. I like not having to measure everything, so I chose to just eyeball it. I started with the Dulce de Leche Cheerios, and added until I ran out. Then I added almost the same amount of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios and stirred until the Cheerios were well coated.
Then press into a 9x13 baking pan, or any container, really, since there is no baking involved. I stood there, staring at it, and I decided that a simple sprinkling of cinnamon would taste good. So I did that.
...and then I started eating. Not bad! The caramel flavor is very subtle, so I think the next time I make these, I might go a little heavier on the Dulce de Leche Cheerios. The cinnamon was a nice accent!
I know that not everyone enjoys the "dump and cook" method and prefer actual measurements, so I have the recipe written out below.

Caramel Apple "Rice Krispies" Treats
Makes one 9 x 13 pan

1 Stick of butter
1 bag of marshmallows
4 cups of Dulce de Leche Cheerios*
4 cups of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios*
1 tsp cinnamon, optional

*Feel free to change the ratios based on your personal taste!

Put the butter and the marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, until the butter is melted and marshmallows become gooey.

Stir to blend.

Add in your choice of Cheerios, half at a time, to make stirring easier. Be sure to coat the cereal well.

Press into a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

Let sit until it cools and firms. 

Enjoy!

The next time I make Rice Krispies Treats, I think I will use the Fruity Cheerios! Should be good!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Guest Room Decorating

Drum roll, please.

This will be my first post with pictures!

This PCS move has made me start thinking about the moving process and all that it entails. We are on the wait list to live on post, and we are going to have a 3 bedroom duplex. It occurred to me that we will need to furnish a guest room for when you all come to visit! And I am hoping that the 3rd bedroom will soon be a nursery! :)

The thought of furnishing a guest room seems to be a daunting task. We have no spare furniture of any sort to put in there, and I want there to be a comfortable room to house our visitors so they don't have to pay to stay after paying to travel to get to Ft. Campbell.

I just so happened to be a part of a conversation a few weeks ago when my step-brother's wife mentioned they had a spare queen-size bed. I was listening to her story, and then I had a light bulb moment. Wait, we could use a queen-size bed! As the gears in my brain started turning, I realized that my plans for a guest room were beginning! Thanks for the bed, guys!

My goal is to furnish this room very frugally but beautifully. Of course.
  
1. Start with what you've got. I racked my brain for a good color scheme, and, realizing that we had a spare king-size down comforter with a grey duvet cover, I had another light bulb moment.  Grey and yellow seems to be the hot trend for decorating as of late. So I thought, grey, yellow, and throw in some navy blue with white accents. I browsed pinterest for some visuals, and I liked what I saw. The challenging part was finding what I had in my mind.

 2. Check for coupons. I have an amazing purse-sized coupon filer that always goes with me when I run errands. I got it at Walmart for about 7 bucks. It even has a slide-out notepad and pen for making shopping lists.
I had a 20% off your ENTRIE purchase coupon for Bed Bath & Beyond, and I also had a gift card. So, the logical place to start looking was here. I scored BIG time! I spent a good 5 minutes rummaging through the clearance shams, not really expecting to find anything I liked. WRONG! I found a navy blue square sham, one side has small white outlined flowers stitched on it, and the flip side has big white and yellow flowers on it. You basically get two shams for one!
















I still wanted 2 identical shams, and what are the odds of finding that in the clearance pile...but I found a second one! 
I moved on to the sheets, and imagined what color would look best. There really aren't any yellow options in the world of sheets, so that was a no. And with the comforter being grey, I decided navy would look best. I spent FOREVER trying to match the navy of the pillows - it has a touch of purple in it. I wanted a decent thread count, but was hoping to avoid spending a lot of money on sheets that, realistically, will hardly be used. I settled on these:
I didn't find any other toss pillows or blankets or throws that were of interest to me. I decided that I was done here, except for a few other small things (a couple of place mats and some coasters).

Queen bed sheets: $31.99  -originally $39.99
Shams: $3.99 each  -MAJOR SCORE!! They were originally $39.99 each
I used a $50 gift card and my coupon. My grand total: $2.09. Amazing!

3. Check discount stores. I stopped by Gordman's, but their bedding section was pretty pitiful. Burlington Coat Factory is also a good place to check. Great pillow selection, but nothing that I was looking for. I moved on to Home Goods and found this adorable white pillow with silver/grey sequins! I had seen similar ones at Target and Kohl's, but they wanted a pretty penny for it.

I found the yellow pillow at Target.  I kept the sham in my purse while I went into other stores to be sure things coordinated. I'm glad that I did because the yellow in the shams was proving to be hard to match!

Sequin pillow: $12.99
Yellow pillow: $14.99

4. Check the Clearance section at your favorite store. Mainstream stores usually have more selection of color and sizes. So why not check for those clearance stickers? While at Target, I also found a Queen-size white cotton blanket for the bed. On clearance! Not much of a discount, but it ended up being cheaper than any comparable blanket elsewhere, even Walmart!
 I of course had to get a euro pillow to fill the euro shams. The Walmart I went to didn't even carry them! I checked while at Target, and they had one left. Their price was the lowest out of all other stores I looked at. I will have to keep waiting until they restock - most other Target locations were sold out, too!

Queen cotton blanket: $12.74  -Originally $14.99
Euro pillow: $10.99

So here it is! Still missing the actual bed and the duvet...and the second euro pillow, but you get the idea! The grey pillow is from the grey duvet we will use.

Doing some quick mental math, after I purchase the second euro pillow, it will have cost me about $65 to buy the all the bedding for the guest room. Not bad, considering that one set of nice queen size sheets can set you back almost that much! 

Of course, I only had the bags inside the house for just a few minutes before the "kids" wanted to see what I got!


Once we move in, I will hunt for some night stands and a lamp or two. I hope to stumble upon some fun framed art projects on pinterest to decorate the walls. Hope you all get to visit us soon after our move!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sweet, Sweet Separation



Being away from your husband sucks. You’re sad, people pity you, you are alone. Nobody ever thinks of it in a positive light.

So what if I were to say that it is the best thing that could happen to a marriage? How can that make any sense? Let me point the ways out to you.

1.       You have an automatic reminder of all the things you LOVE about him. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I actually miss the video games! It gets awful quiet around here. Having someone around to encourage you to be your best at everything you do. Someone to tell you that you look beautiful. That your hair looks beautiful. That smile you get from him when you first wake up. The smallest, most insignificant things now become first in your mind. Your biggest wish in life now becomes much more simple: to spend time, even just a minute, with him.

2.       You get a break from all the little pet peeves. You know, laundry all over the floor (although, I’m realizing that I’m not much better), whining when it’s time to do the dishes, geez…I can’t really even remember any others…it’s been awhile! I rest my case.

3.       Actually being able to miss each other. Being married is also like signing a contract for a permanent roommate. Especially if you are on the same work schedule, you don’t ever seem to get alone time or opportunities to “do whatever” without the other person. And no matter how much you love the other person, or how much you love to spend time together, every person needs time to themselves once in awhile to learn and grow individually. We continue to change as we grow older; especially for us young adults who still have a whole lifetime ahead of us. Time apart helps us to search within ourselves, to find our true strengths and weaknesses. You might surprise yourself with what you discover!

4.       Spousal bonding time. Extended time apart from each other forces new pathways of communication. I just Skyped with my husband recently for several hours, and we had conversations which led to truths that we might not have otherwise learned. Topics arise and are discussed in-depth in a light that, under “ordinary circumstances”, may never have happened. Sure we still argue, but it is with additional patience and understanding as we both have separate struggles. He struggles with time away from home and everything that changes without his involvement, as well as adaptations to his training and home-away-from-home environment. I struggle with picking up the pieces and attempting to “carry on” as if nothing is different, and patiently awaiting more information. We discuss these differences and try to bridge the gap with honesty and sensitivity.

Every separation, big or small, allows for this increased opportunity for knowing each other. Being apart makes you thankful for each other. It makes you love each other and forget the things that really don’t matter so much. It makes you stop and think about what you really want out of life and the journey that you vowed to take together. Each time, a new set of circumstances allows for growth within your marriage. Who said that marriage had to be a steadily increasing line? My marriage looks like an overall increasing trend with peaks and valleys along the way, even an occasional plateau.

 So here’s a quick reality check. The next time your man wants to hang out with the guys after a long week and you’ve not had much time with him, let him. If you haven’t been at home much but you still feel like you need a girl’s night, just go. Or if job changes make it so your time together is limited, consider that a positive. It might not be that enjoyable at first, but your time together will be just that more precious.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Well, Now What?

It's the morning after.

The morning after my last day at my job. My first job as a college-degreed adult. I spent 4 years there, and invested so much time and energy. This school became my anchor after the passing of my mother and Chris returning home from Iraq just 2 weeks before I started working there. My mother was the one who encouraged and "gently pushed" me to apply early on in my senior year of college. She just knew that it would be the perfect fit for me. I hope that she knows how right she was! It took me on a journey that I never expected out of myself. It was very hard to leave, and I will miss all the children, families, and staff that I got to know. I sat at nap time, alone in my classroom yesterday, with all my sleeping children, reflecting on my journey at this school and all the memories I have. I have learned so much about myself in these past several years in my adult life, and I feel like God steered me down this path for a very BIG reason.

I really thought that I knew who I was as a person. For example, I had always thought that I thrived best on stability, predictability, and planning everything in advance. I was blessed to grow up in a happy, healthy household filled with routines and schedules. But with the curve balls life has thrown to me, I have realized that I was completely wrong. And it has taken me awhile to accept the fact that "change" has become the new constant in my life.

I like change.

Phew, I said it. It feels good to get that off my chest. I should have seen the signs when I was younger. Lots of almost-complete projects. Changing my favorite foods. Changing my hobbies. Changing my mind on lots of little unimportant things. Changing my major 4 times. Meeting my (now) husband who was, and still aims to be, unpredictable and spontaneous.

Well, now what? I have found myself with a summer of who-knows-what. Maybe I'm moving? Maybe I'm not. Maybe I'll move in the fall and pick up some sort of part-time job...somewhere...doing something...I don't know. It's a very interesting thought to me to be able to wake up each day and think, what am I going to do today? With all this new found freedom, my head is spinning this morning imagining all the possibilities. Catching up on cleaning, for sure, organizing, recipe trying, filing (been putting that off for WAY too long), crafting of all sorts, pinteresting, getting into a gym routine, movie marathoning, pre-packing...I have tons of interests that can be explored!

There are a few things that have already been planned. My husband flies home for a short visit on June 21st, and my sister is expecting her baby to arrive in mid July. But other than that, when I imagine the rest of this year, it turns into a big blur with little dots of things that I know are happening, but its not linear. They are just floating out there. And for right now, that's okay with me.