Tag Archives: reading

School’s out for summer!

9 Mar

I get to leave work at 12:45 today. And because it’s sunny and almost 60 degrees outside, I feel like a kid getting out of school for the summer. I have been looking forward to this all week long – it’s the little things in life.

I am so excited to go on a run in the warm daylight, and still enjoy a full night of relaxation afterward. This week has been crazy and this afternoon will be Glorious.

I just have to make it through a call about life insurance with our financial planner…

You might know that I don’t do anything with money except spend it. All things financial bore me to tears and anger. When I announced last night that I was going to bed, Travis started talking to me about life insurance. Nope, not talking about this now. See ya.

Travis asked me again this morning when would be a good time to have our phone call. I couldn’t keep my eyes from rolling. The last thing I want to do on my glorious day of freedom is talk about money. 

But, in an effort to be grateful for a husband that cares about things like life insurance and kindly doesn’t ask me to be involved unless legally necessary, I will allow the phone call to infringe. I realize it’s not necessarily a good thing that I don’t want to be involved in our financial situation, but I don’t think you’d want to be involved in something that made you want to poke out your eyes with sharp objects either. (And no, I am not being overly dramatic at all.)

After the call of gloom, I will skip happily and merrily into my free afternoon of running and reading! I might even paint my toenails with the fun purple color I bought a couple weeks ago…

What are you up to this fine Friday? Do you like talking about finances and future planning?

Favorite Things

23 Feb

My blog friend Danielle is hosting a Favorite Things Link up!

Here are a few of my favorite things:

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

I have read this devotional almost every morning for the past 5 years and STILL love it.

All books by C.S. Lewis 

He was a genius. If I could meet anyone in person (besides Jesus Himself), Lewis would be the person I’d pick.

Nike Zoom Structure Triax

This is my 4th pair of these shoes and they still treat me well. Although, I recently read that the Mizuno Wave Riders are good for wide feet and high arches so I might look into those.

Quaker Oatmeal Squares

My favorite cereal EVER. But I only buy it when it’s on sale but it’s against my morals to buy a $5 box of cereal. Kidding.

My dogs

Even though I get frustrated with their bad behavior, I absolutely adore my furbabies. I think they’re the cutest dogs ever.

This race picture My Brooks Speedy Bullet Jacket

I have worn this jacket for every single run I’ve done outdoors in the past 4 weeks and have been surprised time and again at how well it keeps me warm, even though it is windbreaker thin. Worth all $108 I spent on it.

And that race pic from the Snowman Stampede last Saturday? Priceless. (Was I praying to not die? )

The Subaru Forester

I heart the newest version so much. And I feel so out of place in Colorado without a Subaru. That is the color I would want too. As soon as our Focus dies…

Sushi

We’ve found two great places for sushi in Denver: Namiko’s in Arvada and Sushi Uokura in Golden. We almost always order a California roll, but I like to try new rolls and honestly, I have yet to have a sushi roll I didn’t like.

…………………..

What are some of your favorite things? Head on over to Danielle’s blog and join the link up!

Setting the Record Straight

26 Jan

A little-known tidbit about me: I can’t read cooking blogs. The pictures are fun to look at and the recipes look delicious but they just make me overwhelmed. I even feel slightly intimidated by the cookbooks I own. Some people thrive on options; I do not. They just make me feel like there’s too much to do, and too little time.

I also felt overwhelmed yesterday while reading the blogs I regularly follow. Reading about productive weekends full of baking, cleaning, organizing, family time, long runs, Crossfit workouts, and fun dates instantly brings back an old familiar feeling: I’m not doing enough.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because a good (IRL) friend of mine who occasionally reads my blog remarked that I seem to have a lot of things going on in an effort to improve my life (like not eating sweets for a month, limiting my laziness, reading 25 books, and training for a marathon). I dismissed her comment saying, “It’s really not that much; it probably seems like more on the blog.”

I don’t really consider myself an ambitious person. In high school and college, I did what was required of me with excellence (I did graduate from both with honors) but I didn’t go above or beyond that.

Instead of being an overachiever, I guess I was just an achiever. I never had an internship. I never volunteered or got involved in any kind of club. In fact, I somehow graduated as a member of the National Honors Society in high school, even though I never attended a meeting and only did 2 volunteer hours (I think something like 30 were required?). In my defense, I tried to return my medal but they wouldn’t take it from me.

I’m fairly certain that I’ve gotten where I am in life by being anal, not ambitious. While fellow classmates in high school were reading Cliff’s Notes in lieu of The Scarlet Letter and The Grapes of Wrath, I read every single page of every single book, including the Foreword if there was one. Partly because I actually enjoyed reading and partly because I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I hadn’t actually read the book.

Until recently, I had to finish every book I started reading, even if it was crap, just because “it bothered me” to start and not finish. (Now I know that life is too short to read bad books.)

My house is clean and organized because my personality can’t stand clutter and mess.

I don’t stop in the middle of a project, even if it’s mindnumbingly tedious, because I am stubborn.

When we first moved into our apartment in Boulder, I refused to let Travis store stuff under our bed and futon because not storing stuff in an actual closet bothered me. After a couple hours trying to cram things into the 3 tiny closets of our apartment, I saw the folly of my ways. (Although, I have to admit that storing things under the bed still bothers me. If you’re wondering if I’m annoying to live with, my husband would say no, but really mean yes.)

So why am I explaining this to you?

Well, you’ve probably heard people discussing the effects of social media on relationships today. It’s easy to project this perfect image of your life, because you get to pick and choose what people see and what people don’t. I think the same thing goes for blogs. It’s easy to post only the positive, happy things that happen in your life in the name of “making your blog positive” because people “come there to be entertained.” I personally don’t agree with that philosophy but I think it can happen without our realizing. It’s human nature to want to share happy news with others, but shrink back with bad news. You don’t want to blog just to complain, or tell about pathetically boring your day was, or relay how you behaved in a way you’re ashamed of (like throwing something at your husband or eating an entire box of cereal in one sitting).

So I just want to set the record straight: I haven’t checked off an item on my daily To-Do list all week until today (and that only because I had an appointment to get a new passport), I’m feeling slightly sick and majorly lazy, I haven’t walked my dogs in a few days, last night I ate my way through the cupboard before eating dinner trying to fill the chocolate-shaped hole in my heart, I’m having a hard time adjusting to having actual work to do at work, and my big toe is sticking out of the sock I’m wearing. I’m not perfect. I don’t have it all together. I have lots of big ideas and want to live my life intentionally but sometimes (or perhaps, often), I just need a glass of wine, Desperate Housewives, and a night on the couch. And I’m pretty sure other bloggers do too.

Would you consider yourself ambitious? Do you tend to be productive or relaxed with your free time?

Ambitious much?

12 Jan

This week has been very standard at work: nothing to do. But for some reason, I come home from work just exhausted. I have grand ambitions of working on a project I want to get done or reading a book but the only thing that seems appealing is getting my workout done as fast as I can and then spending the rest of the night glued to the couch and TV. Ever have a week like that?

Last week, I was thinking about my goal of reading 50 books in a year. I did the math the hard way – taking 50 books divided by 12 months and carrying the 2 – when I could have realized my over-ambition quite fast by taking 50 books into 52 weeks. Hmmm… that equals out to be almost a book a week. Every week. All year long.

Suffice it to say, I am revising my goal to simply Read more books than I did last year. Which cuts it down to 27 books instead of 50, but that’s still a book every 2 weeks. More realistic but (I think) still tough, especially when I have weeks like this where reading feels like the last thing I want to do.

The whole point of the goal is not just to read. It’s to be more intentional about doing something I enjoy (and I just like making goals). Treating myself like a Nazi is not something I enjoy. A goal too lofty would make me feel incredibly guilty for doing anything but reading, and ruin the very purpose of creating the goal in the first place.

This makes me think of a question I read in an interesting blog post and article the other day: When does self-improvement stop being beneficial and start being a hindrance?

The whole idea behind making goals at the new year, I think, is to be more intentional about how you’re spending your time. Instead of just thinking about how much you’d like learning how to paint, or to speak Japanese, or to run in 10 states, you put some action behind it. Make your dream a reality. Use your time wisely.

But the day-in, day-out grind of life isn’t always as inspiring as those first days of a new year are. Hence, the number of unkept resolutions.

So what do you do when the glitter falls off of your goal? When you just see the menial tasks and grunt work actually required to meet your goal, instead of the sparkly prize at the end? Here’s how I look at goals:

1. Goals should be flexible. Life changes. Things happen. You might realize one day that shooting to read a book a week for the entire year is pretty much a pipe dream. So you revise.

2. Goals should be inspiring. If you’re saving for a trip to Paris, put a picture of the Eiffel Tower on your wall at work. Learn to speak French. Go eat a croissant and tell yourself that it’ll be 1,000 times better in Paris. Watch movies set in Paris. Keep a picture that reminds you of Paris in your wallet, so that every time you’re tempted to spend money that you should be saving, you hold out for the greater prize. Don’t just grunt your way through life – be inspired.

3. Goals should have a “why.” If you don’t know why you want to lose weight, or take up a new hobby, or cook more at home, it’s very easy to give up when you encounter resistance in the form of brownies, laziness or takeout food. Having a “why” also provides fodder for your inspiration (see #2).

4. Goals should be about more than just the end. Why? Because on your way to the goal, you’re still living your life. And if you’re only focused on the end, you’re missing out on the joy of the journey. Running a marathon someday will be amazing – but it’ll be so amazing because of the miles I ran and time I sacrificed to get there. A goal is an accomplishment because you stayed focused over an extended period of time for a specific result. It’s the work that got you there that’s impressive. Also, if you’re solely focused on the end of your goal, what happens when you reach it? Goals aren’t the point of life. A goal is just a tool that helps you make positive changes in your life, for your overall joy.

5. Goals should be filled with grace. There are days when you slip up and eat 2 slices of cake even though you’re trying to drop some pounds. Or you skip your run even though you’re training for a race. Or you veg and watch TV every night after work for a week even though you’re trying to read more. Some days you just need a break. And that’s ok. Use the break to think about your goal – Is it still worth it? If so, why did I do what I did? What can I do in the future to prevent it from happening again? Or should I revise my goal to make it more realistic or joy-giving?

 

In my case, I’ve been reading a pretty mentally-challenging book (One Thousand Gifts) and while I’m really enjoying it, sometimes I just want an easy novel. That’s why I’m drawn to TV over a book – I don’t want to think, just veg. I think easy novels can serve that purpose too. While I’m trying to break my habit of reading more than one book at once, sometimes you just have to make an exception (see #5).

How do you stay motivated for your goals?

Rest, finally.

22 Nov

Well friends, I finally got my restful weekend. Even though elk hunting back in October was supposed to be the end of the busyness, it wasn’t really. We still had a bunch of crap great stuff to keep us busy on the weekends, like butchering and vacuum-sealing animals, running errands, and fun stuff like dinner with friends and volunteering.

So when I had a whole Saturday with nothing planned and a Sunday with only church and dinner with friends (that ended up being postponed because one of them got sick), I saw my chance. A weekend of rest. 

I had to act fast. I made sure to ask Travis what he had planned, just in case he was staging Antelope Butchering Part 22 and expecting my willing participation. (Yes, we still.have.meat.to.cut.up. Will it ever end?!?!)

Once I was relieved to know that my vacuum-sealing skillz would not be needed, I then decided to figure out the bare minimum of things I had to accomplish on the weekend, in order to maximum the amount of time my butt could be glued to the couch.

I figured I needed to clean our house, go grocery shopping and get my two workouts in (5 mile run one day, 60 min cross-training + strength another). I probably would have just ditched the house cleaning, except I thought we were having dinner guests Sunday night, and my parents are coming into town today! I also only buy enough produce to last us a week and I can’t not have apples and bananas to eat for snacks, so grocery shopping is also necessary.

I decided to grocery shop on Saturday (because everyone and their Grandma goes to the grocery store on Sunday) and clean on Sunday (because dog hair mysteriously appears 30 seconds after I clean anything so it’s best to leave as little time as possible between when you clean and when guests arrive).

Anyway, my plan worked perfectly. Friday after work, I did a quick 3 mile tempo run and then promptly did nothing else for the rest of the evening besides drink wine and watch TV.

Saturday, I didn’t get to sleep in (because Katy got up at 6:45 and groaned at me to feed her) but I didn’t expect to (because Katy does that every morning) and actually read for a couple hours. I was able to finish The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg before it was due at the library. I really enjoyed it. But around 8:30, I fell asleep on the couch and at 9:30, I went back to bed. 🙂 Travis and I finally got up at 10:30.

Then I had breakfast, read some more, called my mom and friend Amy who’s living in California right now, tided up the office, typed up my notes from another library book (Having a Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver – also good), went on a run with Travis and the pooches, and then Travis and I went out to eat at Pho Fusion, where I tried Pho for the first time. It was good but meh in my book. I’m not that much of a soup person and I don’t really like cabbage or celery so it’s probably just my weird quirks.

After dinner, Travis and I went to the grocery store and bought food for the week and Thanksgiving. It’s so much more fun going to the store when Travis comes with! We bought some gummy bears (for me) and ice cream (for him) to enjoy while watching Yogi Bear. I love, love, love animated movies so whenever I have the chance to rent a movie without Travis’ input, that’s what I usually choose. It was a cute movie – not my favorite, but I laughed a lot.

Sunday, we went to church, ate lunch and then I laid on the couch watching football for a little while. When Travis got up to go do stuff, I decided I should probably get started on laundry  and cleaning. Around 5, I went swimming and did yoga. After that, I finished cleaning, finished almost all of the laundry, and went to bed around 10.

Overall, it was a very nice weekend. I don’t think I could handle an entire weekend of doing absolutely nothing – I like having a balance between rest and productivity.

I am really looking forward to the holiday weekend – great food, great time with my parents, and lots of relaxing!

What I picked up…

31 Oct

Saturday morning, I made a very necessary run to Walgreen’s for coffee and then spent a long time in the morning researching in the Bible what I wrote in my recent post on grace. I think this is going to be the hypothesis or main focus of the book I’m slowly attempting to write.

After getting dressed, I decided what to make for dinner (usually I choose 3 recipes, but this time, I chose 4 because of the little butternut squash from our garden I want to use up):

Minted Rice with Garbanzo Curry

Chicken and Dumplings

Tomato Tortellini Soup

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Then I made my shopping list, and went to my favorite grocery stores: Sunflower Farmer’s Market and Safeway.

Here’s my haul:

Pantry Items: 2 loaves of bread, instant brown rice, condensed tomato soup, vegetable broth, tomato sauce, garbanzo beans, raisin bran granola, Multi-Grain Cheerios, Hint of Salt Triscuits, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, sun-dried tomatoes, butternut squash puree, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom condensed soup, dried apricots, walnuts, chocolate chips (which I realized after I took this pic should have been included with the baking stuff)

Baking Goods: 2 cake mixes (bought to make these easy pumpkin cupcakes and they were Buy 1, Get 1 Free), Bisquick, brown sugar, white and semi-sweet chocolate chips (also B1G1)

Produce: baby carrots, Honeycrisp apples, bananas (usually I buy more than this but we have quite a few vegetables left over from last week)

Perishables: shredded Parmesan, shredded mozzarella, half & half, pepperjack cheese, roasted red pepper hummus, mint leaves

In case you’re curious, I spent a little less than $100 on all of that (plus sandwich bags and Febreze, unpictured).

Then I checked out more books from the library than I could possibly read before their due date (thank goodness for online renewal!):

I started reading Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge and LOVE it so far.

I also set out our green tomatoes in the sun to ripen.

{Notice Katy in the window – that’s how she alerts us she wants to come in.}

Instead of diving right into the books though, I went on a 3 mile tempo run with the dogs (32:43) and then did the first 30 minutes of YogaX.

Saturday night, we babysat a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old for some friends. It was so much fun! As I sat by the 1-year-old’s crib waiting for her to fall asleep, she rolled over and I was struck by how much they are little people, with little quirks and personalities. And I realized, if I can be so fond of someone else’s kids, how much am I going to love my own kids someday, whether they are biological or adopted! I am still praying for the grace to wait patiently until the time is right for us to try. Soon…

Sunday, we went to church, ate lunch (leftover Tortellini Soup, which was delicious but very rich – would be good as a small appetizer instead of the main course, or with less cream), and after starting laundry and cleaning the bathrooms, did Travis’ favorite thing – shopping. Like a lot of men, he is very hard on his clothes and has one by one destroyed his good work jeans by either getting them irreversibly dirty or wearing  holes in the knees, until he was down to one pair of jeans. So shopping it was. I was also on the hunt for a pair of skinny jeans to wear under my new boots.

We looked at the thrift store first because I have been able to find a lot of good deals there for myself, but there wasn’t a good selection. So we headed over to the Eddie Bauer outlet at Denver West. Travis has had luck there in the past with finding jeans that don’t have holes or any weird washing technique. Often, men’s jeans are very “trendy” and Travis is not. So he sticks to brands like Wrangler, Carhartt, and Eddie Bauer.

We found a couple of great pairs of jeans on the $19.99 rack – it was such a good deal, I was worried that they had been misplaced there (having worked in retail myself and seen that happen many a time). And I was right. They rang up at $49.99 each. But when we said that we had found them on the clearance rack, the clerk was amazingly nice and gave us the sale price. I was floored. He saved us $60!

After that, I asked Travis if I could take a quick detour into a store called Papaya. It looked a lot like Forever 21 and I found that the prices were similar as well. I found a pair of skinny jeans for $24 that fit me well. They’re just a little bit long, so they bunch up around my ankles like this, but since other people wear them that way, I guess it’s ok… Sometimes I feel like such a poser wearing fashions like that! I even felt like the girl manning the dressing room at Papaya gave me a look like “What are you doing shopping here?” I guess I am almost 30… And when I shop at stores like that, I have to get over any hangups I have ever had about pants sizes because the reality is, when a size 6 adult woman shops at a store for juniors, she’s going to be more like a size 11. (Is it just me or have juniors pants gotten smaller since I was a teen? I mean, who can possibly wear those size 1 pants?)

I told Travis as we were leaving that I’m going to be sad when I can no longer shop in stores like that, either because I’m too old or because I can’t fit into anything, because those stores are so cheap! Shopping in adult stores meaning paying adult prices. Ugh… I don’t want to grow up. 

After our shopping trip, I called my mom, finished laundry, cleaned the rest of the house and then went on a 4 mile run (43:30) with Travis and the dogs. The pooches were still exhausted this morning!

Have you read any good books lately? Do you ever feel weird wearing trends?

In a nutshell… Boots!

24 Oct

This is a strange feeling – being rested on a Monday.

How did that happen? By following my plan of relaxing Friday night, doing (7 loads of) laundry Saturday and cleaning Sunday. It worked beautifully.

The weekend in a nutshell:

Friday

“Cooked” a frozen pizza for dinner.

Researched boots online for 2 hours.

Gave up finding cute, warm boots.

Watched Parenthood.

 

Saturday

Had coffee with Cathy.

Scored cute winter boots (detailed below).

Started laundry (insert between each of the following).

Returned overdue books.

Bought groceries.

Read.

Napped.

Read.

Walked the dogs.

Enjoyed girls’ night (we watched a Bollywood movie – love it!).

 

Sunday

Went to church.

Cleaned and tidied house.

Vacuum-sealed the last of the elk meat.

Read.

Napped.

Spend time with God in prayer.

Went to the church potluck and meeting.

Watched Desperate Housewives.

 

There were other things I was tempted to do – clean this, put away that, weed out this drawer, organize that closet. But I didn’t. Instead, I intentionally stuck to my plan and while laundry was being laundered, I laid on the couch and read my book (right now, it’s We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates). And I am so glad that I gave myself that permission. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated today – but probably also because of my great time with God yesterday and today. I’ll blog about that later this week.

First things first – I am way more exciting about my new winter boots than I am about the details of elk hunting so I’m pushing hunting pics out until tomorrow.

So the story behind these boots is that the only pair of real winter boots I own are too small for me (and I won’t wear them in public). I got them a LONG time ago (high school?). The boots I have been wearing for the past 7 years are a pair of fashion boots that I bought while working at a department store in college. They don’t have any insulation and they are only kinda-sorta waterproof. So while I have worn them for snowshoeing, tromping around in the snow, and they have been very loyal to me, I’m not going to lie – my feet get pretty cold wearing them. As in, very cold. No insulation = no warmth.

Travis’ cousin emailed us to say that he could get a great discount on new Columbia gear through the store he works at, but only through the end of the month. So I started looking at Columbia boots, and quickly discovered all of the cute ones only had 200 g of Thinsulate! (Travis said that 400 g would be a bare minimum.) Don’t these people know that a lot of women want to be warm and cute? (And actually, Columbia only carries one boot with more than 200 g of Thinsulate that I could see). As I looked at other brands, those too were only 200 g. The only warm boots I could find looked so… booty. Do cute, warm boots exist anywhere? 

I didn’t want to spend $150, or even $100, or heck even $50 on boots I wouldn’t want to wear in public. I mean, how often do I go elk hunting or snowshoeing – twice a year, combined? I needed boots I could wear casually around town and not look like a goober. Anyway, after 2 hours of unfruitful searching (although I did really love these, but they didn’t have my size – single tear), I decided to just go to Dick’s Sporting Goods to try on boots in person.

And wouldn’t you know, on the 75% off clearance table, like a beacon of light, I saw these gems:

So comfy. So cute. So warm. So CHEAP.

Originally $149. I got them for $40.76. 

Since they were on clearance, I couldn’t find out how much insulation they had. I tried to look it up on Travis’ phone while we were in the store but to no avail, since they are no longer being made by Sorel (why, I don’t know because I have read nothing but rave reviews of them online). I tried on a bunch of other boots and felt “eh” about them. Plus, these were so cheap. And Sorel has a reputation for making a very high-quality, long-lasting boot. (In fact, that’s what brand my old-boots-that-I-won’t-wear are.)

We decided it was too sweet of a deal to pass up. Plus, their clearance items are returnable so I figured I could do a little more research on them and if I found a bunch of bad reviews, I could just return them. But the reviews are all good so I think they’re keepers.

I heart finding clearance deals, especially for things I would have paid full price for.

So if you have any questions about winter boots, I am now your expert.

What do you wear on your feet during the winter?