Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful Thanksgiving

I don't know about you, but I really love these quiet mornings on a special day (Thanksgiving!) before the sun rises when it's just me awake in the house. I'm excited for our 5K this morning as well as catching a few minutes of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This afternoon, we'll head up to my grandparents for Thanksgiving with the family. I'm bringing the veggie tray and maybe some cranberry sauce as my grandma still does the whole sha-bang on Thanksgiving! Her rolls are the best.

If you're still needing something tasty to whip up for friends, family, or yourself, Minimalist Baker has a ton of drool-worthy recipes on tap for you.

Today I'm thankful for the manfriend, my family, my friends, and living in the Pacific Northwest. Every time I imagine leaving this place, it just seems nearly impossible to do.

As winter approaches, I'm already scheming up the number of times we can visit Bend, or do anything involving getting out to the snow and the mountains. And for the record, we already have two trips to Bend planned for January!

Last Saturday, I opted to skip yoga so the manfriend and I could head on a little hiking adventure - something I always say I want to do, but rarely make the time for.

The views and the long, winding drive to Kentucky Falls were worth it, however.

Don't be fooled by my seemingly normalness. There are days I look like a crazy tourist hiker and last Saturday was one of those...


And as usual, the debate begins in my mind. Will I go out on Black Friday or will I stay in where it's cozy and peaceful?

On the one hand, I'd like to pick up some new sheets at half price and a few other small things, but on the other hand, I could also do that via a little online shopping and avoid the day of craziness. 

Of course, if you're doing any online shopping, be sure to sign up for Ebates. It's free and easy and you'll get cash back on most purchases you make online. Seriously, there is no trick to it. You simply have to login to your Ebates account and from there navigate to the online store of your choice and you'll get a check in the mail once a quarter that you shop.

Are you doing any holiday shopping this weekend? 

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating! 

Be sure to eat something you love, move your body a bit, and take a moment to reflect on the good stuff in life. 

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?