Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Embracing the Holidays

Thursday has arrived! Thursday is always a relief because when it's over, we're just around the corner from Friday. Wednesday and Thursday are my busiest days of the week, so it is pretty exciting to almost over the hump.

This year, I admittedly jumped into the holiday spirit early. I blame it on the extra cold temps sent our way over the past few weeks and all of the amazing recipes I'm seeing pop up everywhere. AND the fact that we'll get to celebrate with a white Christmas this year back in the Midwest!

A Few Things I'm Thankful for Right Now:

Holiday Music - Yep, guilty as charged! Two weeks ago I innocently popped in the Michael Buble's Christmas album in my car and it all went down hill from there. Once I listened to a few of my favorites, I was pretty much fine with listening to anything and everything Christmas. Sorry, I'm not sorry.

Candles - This vanilla snowflake candle from Bath & Body Works makes the house smell so good. Last year I got a peppermint one that I also loved, so I picked up a new one last week. It's amazing how a good smell can make you happier.

Turkey Day 5K - It's the little things like running a 5K on Thanksgiving morning that get me excited. The manfriend and I are signed up for the local Turkey Stuffer, so I guess he better start training! I haven't been doing much speed training, so I'll just be running for fun, but I'm already looking forward to it.

Layering up - Now that I'm able to be a bit more casual with my daily outfits, I am embracing layers and feeling comfortable, while still feeling put together. With the colder temperatures, it's been nice to throw on a puffy vest and scarf to stay warm.

Trader Joe's Treats - I found these last weekend at Trader Joe's and put them right in my basket. These are a mini version of the mint dark chocolate covered cookies they used to make. I actually prefer the minis because you can have just a few more. A few other things I'm looking forward to are the spiced apple cider and the candy cane Joe-Joe's.

Thanksgiving Thoughts
I'm starting to think about a few recipes I'd like to make for Thanksgiving - either for one of our family gatherings or just for the manfriend and I to enjoy.

One thing I'm making for sure is Oh She Glows' Sweet Potato Casserole. I love sweet potatoes, but I am not a fan of the candied yams that people do with tons of marshmallows or brown sugar and syrup many recipes call for. I'm especially excited for the crunch nut crumble on top! Angela has put together several other amazing vegan Thanksgiving spreads that put most people's tables to shame. Someday, I will make a Thanksgiving meal from top to bottom.

*I'm particularly fond of her Hockey Nuts recipe that is perfect for a party or giving to a friend or family member as a gift.

How is your week going? Do you have any Thanksgiving recipes to share that you'll be whipping up? Is anyone else running a turkey trot? 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Just. Keep. Going.

Alternate title: One Step at a Time

This topic is one near and dear to my heart, especially over the past year. For many years (5+) after college, I wondered when and what I would go back to school for. I have always known I would either continue down the marketing path, focus on health and wellness, or dive into something more creative like photography or graphic design.

After several years of hemming and hawing without any attempt at any of my other areas of strengths/interests, I was simply fed up with my own indecision. Jess Lively, a blogger and entrepreneur I have followed for several years has always promoted the idea of living intentionally and focusing on your strengths and interests. In fact, I'm highly certain I adopted the term 'Just Keep Going' from her.

There have been many times where I questioned "Is this REALLY what I want to be doing?" or "Can I hack three years of this plus an internship?" or "Will I be succeed?" There has been fear, excitement, breakdowns, and confusion.  

But amidst the fear and confusion, the thing that I've held tight to is that I just have to keep going. When I start to look at the big picture and what it takes to reach the end goal, I get overwhelmed. It seems like a mountain I won't be able to summit. But shockingly, when I think about things one baby step at a time, it doesn't seem so bad. 

So while the long term is the goal, the short term focus is what gives me strength and reassurance that reaching a big goal is just a matter of taking a lot of little steps.

This idea can be applied to a lot of other areas of life (forming new friendships, saving for a house/car/trip, learning a new skill, etc.).

How do you tackle a big goal? 

I hope you're surviving the arctic blast wherever you are. It's been pretty cold (for Eugene) getting into the 20s at night. Yesterday, I waited until it warmed up around 3 p.m. to a balmy 42 degrees to go running. But I won't complain too much because I know it could be worse. Plus, it's kind of fun to have to bundle up a bit more for our morning dog walks. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Back into the Swing of Things

With school, it's proving to be much more difficult to run ~30 miles per week with all the studying, homework and commuting that's required. But last week my load was a bit lighter, so it felt good to actually run regularly and feel the effects of it - hello, sore legs.

And, I almost hit 30 miles. I'm also trying to keep up the strength training 3x per week, even if it is only 10-15 minutes some days.

Monday - upper body strength + 5 miles steady

Tuesday - yoga

Wednesday - 4.5 miles steady + strength

Thursday - 4 miles speed work

Friday - HIIT/strength + 3 miles easy

Saturday - 9.5 mile trail run (hills)

Foggy and cold, but so beautiful out.

Sunday - race volunteering + yoga

It's rare that I volunteer for a race and I figured it would be good to give back. The manfriend and I had also run this race last year, so it was fun to see the 10 milers turn around at my aid station and the 16 milers keep on truckin'.

Best meal of the week? Crockpot pulled pork sandwiches + homemade slaw.

Hardest run? Speed work, of course. It's been weeks since I could make it to the workout and this week we alternated between 10K and mile pace, which was challenging to say the least. We did a mile alternating paces and then 4 x 600m with the first and third 200m at 10K pace and the second and fourth at mile pace.

Most fun run? Saturday morning trail run with the girls. It's rare that I run with others outside of speed work, so it was fun to chat away the miles. The miles seemed to fly by and before we knew it, we had covered nearly 10 miles.

What was the highlight of your weekend? And your hardest workout last week?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Thankful Thursday + Fashion Friday

So, if you've been reading for the last few years, you might remember that I've tried to do a Thankful Thursday post most Thursdays of November. I remembered this week, so let's jump in a day late, okay? And feel free to join me on Thankful Thursdays if you're interested!

The last few weeks I think I've noticed every tree that has been changing color ever so slowly. My morning dog walk is one of those perfect times to notice everything as I typically leave the phone at home and just pay attention to my surroundings.

So, the changing trees {and seasons of life} are what I'm really thankful for this week.

The scene below is one from the Oregon State campus where I go once a week for two nutrition classes. This section of the campus is a little piece of tree heaven.


Fashion Friday
A few weeks ago I exchanged a skirt I had purchased from the LOFT for something I'll wear much more often, this beautiful oversized and warm sweater. For someone who is freezing for most of the winter, I don't own nearly enough sweaters. Just a tip: be sure to shop when LOFT is having a sale because frankly, it would be silly not to. Plus, they have a 40 percent off sale just about every week or two this time of year. 

Sweater: LOFT, necklace: LOFT, jeans: Hudson, boots: Clarks

Also, I've been considering dying just the grow out from my highlights (the lower 6" or so) to my natural brown. Has anyone ever done this?

What I'm pining for {fashion wise}: all the infinity scarves.

What I'm listening to: Serial, a podcast of This American Life. Someone mentioned it at yoga one morning and I have been hooked ever since. It works great for the days I am in the car a lot driving to and from school.

What are you thankful for right now? Happy Friday!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Finding Fall out on the Trails

Last weekend I hit the trails in search of some of my favorite views and running spots. It's funny, 90 percent of the time I run around my neighborhood, on the bike path, or on flat, well-known trails in town. But that the other 10 percent of the time when I venture out, I notice I enjoy my runs the most.

Mt. Pisgah is one of those places where I probably only run 5-10 times a year and yet it's only a ten minute drive from Eugene. Granted, it requires a little more planning, time and $3 for parking, but it's always worth it. 

My friend Laurel and I headed out on my favorite loop around the mountain (i.e. the scenic route), which is about eight miles in total. I love when you get to the back side and the single track opens up onto this rolling country road.

After a mile or so, you head back UP into the single track and into the forest for some hilly fun. Again, another favorite view is right beneath these power lines. I love how you can see the fall colors even through the fog.

These trails tend to invite you to mosey on at your own pace because really, why rush this scenery?

And soon enough, you're greeted by fall at its finest. Hello, yellow everywhere. 

With tired legs and rears, we got back to the parking lot about an hour and a half later. And what better way to warm up than a cinnamon dolce latte (1/2 the syrup) in one of the first red cups of the season?

Afterward, I meandered my way through Old Navy looking at some of their cute fall wear. Sometimes, simply window shopping fills my urge to actually purchase something. #clothesaddict

For trail gear, I'm still loving my Nike Zoom Terra Kigers as they're light, have good tread, and are wide enough for my fat feet. Saturday, I wore long spandex, which were warmer than needed but nice for running through brush, wet bushes and past blackberry vines.

Beyond that, I always like to wear layers on the trail, so I wore a tank + 1/2 zip long sleeve and a light Novara vest. The vest was overkill on Saturday, but often times perfect for cool or wet trail runs. Plus, it has a HUGE pocket in it to carry gloves, fuel, etc.

I don't know about you, but it's that time of year where I am once again shocked at how soon Christmas will be here. Cue shopping panic! The last few years we've been pretty minimalistic about gifts, but I always find this internal struggle with wanting to give nice gifts, but not wanting to give just to give (and worst of all, giving someone something they don't want or won't use).

Okay, back to microbiology...

What's your favorite fall activity you've done this year? Do you have a "plan" for Christmas, whether it's how you're going to celebrate or purchase gifts? 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Life Lately

Forgive me, I'm just trying to unbury myself from the mounds of reading and assignments that I need to catch up on and/or are due this Friday, in addition to one of my midterms! It's incredible just. how. much. work can be assigned from one class.

Honestly, I'm not sure we'll use our dining room table for dining any time soon. It just works so well for holding stacks of books and binders...

On a more exciting note, here are a few highlights of life lately.

What I'm Thankful For...

Heat - we finally turned our furnace on for the first time this fall and I can tell you that 68 feels like a world of difference from the 61 degrees we were enduring lsat week. We were trying to hold out until Nov. 1, but no dice!

Dry morning walks - I take Jonah Bell out every morning rain or shine, so I really appreciate the mornings that are dry with just a slight fall breeze. I hate having to towel her off after she's soaking wet!

Seeing friends - Last week I had at least three planned social events, which really does something for the soul. It's so easy to get caught up in your own life and feel like you have time for no one else. The opposite is actually true. When you're the most frazzled, you likely need some social contact more than ever.

What I Need Right Now...

This yoga class. I tried it for the first time this morning after running hilly trails on Sunday and running 5 miles last night and it really helped stretch out my tight legs. I highly recommend it (and yogaglo in general)!

What We're Eating...

The manfriend has really stepped up and has been making dinner several nights a week when I've been too busy or have to stay at work late, study or do homework. But when I do have the time to cook, I'm still making some of my favorites.

Dinner last night was stacked enchiladas! Someday, I'll remember to buy the big tortillas for real enchiladas, but this version a little less tedious and a bit healthier.

This is one of those recipes that is great because it's super flexible and allows you to use whatever you have on hand as far as veggies or protein goes. First I saute my veggies and boil the chicken (or leave it out). Then, I tear up a few small white corn tortillas (I used 4 mini ones) alternating veggie protein mix with tortillas and then topping it all with a bit of cheese. Bake at 375 for 20-30 min or until cheese is melty and bubbling.

Ingredients: sauteed veggies, including onion, corn, and red pepper, black refried beans, shredded chicken, a little taco seasoning, avocado slices, a few dollops plain yogurt, 1/4 cup or so of enchilada sauce, and 1/4 cup shredded white cheddar cheese.

What I'm Reading... {beyond thrilling textbooks}

75-Year Study That Found The Secrets to a Fulfilling Life - It's really no surprise that relationships/love are key to a happy and fulfilling life, but it's nice to read it all the same.

How is your week going? Pick one of the above topics and tell me what's going on in your life regarding that topic.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall, what fall?

Thank goodness for weekends! I definitely needed this one to recover and recharge from a cold and a few big work events last week. 

The weekend was spent doing yoga, studying for a few tests I have this week, going out to breakfast, and heading out to our favorite local farm for pumpkins and tasty, affordable apples.

It was our first time out to Thistledown Farm this season and I was surprised to realize they're only open for two more weeks. Glad we fit in one trip anyway!

Manfriend picking out a few good ones for our porch.

Crunchy apples of all varieties for $1.29/lb? You don't have to tell me twice!

And no trip to the farm is complete without a few apple cider donuts. YUM.

Also, can we talk about how it's not really fall here? The entire weekend was 75 and sunny!

First run in five days = happiness. 

With a sunrise like this to boot!

And finally, Sunday afternoon was spent soaking up some Vitamin D because who knows when my legs will see sun again.

How was your weekend? Anyone experiencing fall weather yet?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bittersweet Goodbye

It feels kind of surreal to know that I'm in the last few days of employment at the place I have worked (and my alma mater)  for the last nine years. Where does the time go? I went from a lost 20-something to a more sure 30-something. I have planned a lot of big {and small} events, carried out numerous marketing campaigns, developed my project management skills, given 110 percent, and utilized my creativity here.

While it's bittersweet to say goodbye, I feel like a weight is soon to be lifted from my shoulders. I'll admit that I know I could not keep up my current schedule of a full class load + 20 hrs of office work and do well in my classes. Organic chemistry and microbiology - oy vey!

A colleague brought me this yesterday...

Excuse me while I hide the good stuff from the manfriend.

On the other hand, I have this weird sense of impending meaninglessness. Yes, I'll be going to school and working toward a bigger goal, but it doesn't seem quite as important as going to an office every day. Anyway, I'm sure I'll figure it out as I go. It'll just take some time to adjust to my new purpose and focus as a full time student.

I've been under the weather the last few days, but am determined to still get some movement in. Monday night, I put on my running shoes to walk a few miles near work and catch some daylight.

Never mind the highly unfashionable look. #keepinitcomfy

Random thoughts:
  • My wedding dress is still hanging on the closet door of our spare bedroom where I can see it daily. I just can't bring myself to put it away...
  • My macbook pro purchased in January 2008 is still kicking (for now)
  • I may just love my new Brooks Ravennas more than I loved the Addictions.
  • I'm so excited for Christmas. We'll be heading back to the midwest to visit Pete's family and I can't wait to see the newest family member born yesterday and our one year old niece (oh, and everyone else of course)!
How's your Wednesday treating you?