Monday, March 31, 2014

Denver Area Tips for Trips

Well jeez! It seems like forever since I wrote a post!  I realized that I didn't want to bore everyone (or my one actual follower...thanks Kira) with every single detail of our awesome birthday trip to the Denver area, so I'll list all the places we went and what we did/had there.  And as promised, here they are:

1. (transportation in the city)
2. Altitude Tickets (Colorado Avalanche (hockey) tickets)
3. Gaia Restaurant
4. Common Threads (consignment store)
5. Broadway St. (lots of Antiques and thrift shopping)
6. Goodwill on Leetsdale St./Dr. (wealthier neighborhood so naturally better items!)
7. Prohibition (restaurant)
8. Mici (restaurant)
9. Denver Museum of Nature and Science
10. Voodoo Donuts
11. Buckhorn Exchange (restaurant and bar/lounge)
12. Denver Mint (where coins are made!)
13. Denver Zoo
14. Wynkoop Brewing Company
15. Great Divide Brewing
16. Red Rock Amphitheater
17. Boulder, CO
18. The Buffalo Exchange, Boulder (AWESOME consignment shop!!)
19. Crepes N' Crepes, Cherry Creek District
20. The Sink, Boulder (restaurant featured on a Food Network show)

And I'm sure I'm missing some things, but these were definitely all places I would recommend checking out!  The first on the list is the Denver area transportation website for their light rail and bus system.  There is an awesome trip planner button on the right side of the website that allows you to input addresses, points of interest, etc. and turns up about four different route options for you to choose from with time and everything.  We used this website almost everyday and did purchase five day passes (only used three).  They have so many options from a simple round-trip fare to a 10 day pass and I highly recommend this mode of transportation for anyone not wanting to find parking in downtown Denver.  We used the light rail and bus to get to numbers 2, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 listed above.  Although, the commute time is slightly longer, it was a great feeling not to have to find parking and then only having three hours to hang out or walk around.  We also saved gas money and on top of that the fees for parking at the hockey game and museum!

All together, the majority of the list I would definitely do again in Denver, however a couple of items aren't high on my list as they weren't above and beyond impressive.  These include: the Mici restaurant (wasn't bad by any means, but wasn't unique compared to the other places we went), Voodoo Donuts (I'm a donut snob after having GOOD donuts at the local shop I work in), and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (which was really cool and I loved the mummy exhibit, but this museum is definitely more geared for kids in my opinion).

The places I say that you can't miss at all are:

Prohibition - a bar/restaurant styled to resemble the speak easy's of the 1920's and serves an outstanding bacon-maple-bread pudding-french toast...DELICIOUS!!
The Buckhorn Exchange - We went twice! Once for a nightcap and dessert and the second time for lunch, which is way cheaper than their dinner entrees! AND this is the oldest restaurant in the Denver area (right off the light rail station at 10th and Osage). Their lounge upstairs is a great place for a drink and good conversation.  They also have a resident musician usually from Tues-Sat. We, sadly, missed him!
Great Divide Brewing - Now I don't drink much beer, but Kyle and I both agree that they had some great beer and their staff was some of the friendliest I have met!  Don't forget to check out their big foot souvenir glass!
Red Rock Amphitheater - If nowhere else, then you have to visit this absolutely beautiful venue.  Unfortunately there were no concerts playing when we went, but definitely try to see one there, because the view is amazing and the setting is too!
The Buffalo Exchange - If you're looking for trendy apparel at a reasonable price, this is the hip-est spot to check. It is in Boulder, CO right off their main shopping street and I would highly recommend taking an entire day trip to see this lovely town that is so much like our lovely Missoula, MT.
And while you're there, definitely check out The Sink restaurant.  They have some amazing dishes at great prices and they're famous! They have not only been featured on Food Network, but famous people including President Obama also frequent this awesome eatery!
Oh, and I LOVE crepes, so if you're in the mood, check out Crepes N' Crepes in the Cherry Creek District.  The fancy upscale neighborhood is a bit intimidating with all the range rovers and BMW's rolling around, but this cute little French inspired cafe has amazing crepes, tea, and coffee.  Definitely treat yo-self!

I can't believe I just typed that and left it!  Well, I hope someday you will find these suggestions helpful or at least a basis for some planning.  We were only there for six days, so I know that we didn't even come close to seeing or tasting everything that Denver is known for.  I would love any suggestions that the readers may offer!

Until the next post (which hopefully will be about packing and outfit tips and tricks)...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Oh the Places We Have Gone...

                Today was a day of figuring out the Denver area and getting my bearings.  I’m generally great with directions and finding places after looking at a map once or twice, but usually it takes a day and some getting lost as well. 
                First on our list of new lessons was deciding what type of ticket to get for the light rail and where to do so.  We walked to the nearest station, but when we got there, we were very confused and ended up calling the light rail service desk.  It turns out we were rightly confused as we couldn’t get the pass we wanted unless we were at one of the service stations.  So, we had some nice morning exercise before driving right into the heart of downtown.  Since we were already in the area, it was a perfect time to see the capitol building as well.

The hubby and the capitol building.

Failing the "selfie" technique, but it'd kind of hard when the hubby is 6'2" and I'm 5'4".

A monument to all veterans.

Not quite sure what that building is behind us, but it looked pretty and school children were visiting it, so we thought we would need a picture!

Finally getting the selfie down!

                After figuring out our light rail tickets (which we probably still did incorrectly, but live and learn), we still had time left over on the meter, so we took a stroll up Colfax street.  We saw lots of homeless and some interesting characters, but the coolest piece that I almost walked by unnoticed was this:

Graffiti can be beautiful when it has an artful purpose.

                Anyways, we decided that walking partially down Colfax wasn’t enough and I wanted to, again get my bearings, so we drove in the direction of the Zoo and the Denver Museum of Science and Nature.  On the way, we saw an awful bubble gum pink facade and people walking with pink boxes.  The realization hit Kyle and I that a Voodoo Donuts had opened in Denver!  Okay, so we aren’t really on the band wagon of this donut shop since I work at Treasure State Donuts already, but we had to check out what all the fuss was about.  Yes, we waited in line for about 30 minutes (which is short if you’ve ever heard of Voodoo) and after waiting all that time and not having eaten lunch yet, we made the horrible decision to get their most popular pre-packed bakers dozens. This included items such as the bacon maple bar, the voodoo doll, the captain my captain (captain crunch cereal on it), Portland crème, Colfax crème, Neapolitan, and way too many others that we shouldn’t have even gotten.  I will say that they were good, but they didn’t compare to our donuts (TSD).  Kyle did prefer their version of a Bavarian crème because he likes his crème to be sweeter, but I didn’t like it at all.  I know this will sound snooty, but you can taste the quality difference between the two, and since I have tried almost all of our donuts and a good selection of theirs, I think I have earned the right to say so!

They are definitely creative in design and name departments, so I’ll give them that.  Here’s the hubby and I being silly after purchasing a baker’s dozen for the two of us…COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS!

It was lunch time if you could't tell...

Their famous voodoo doll donut and voodoo Lauren too!

                Ok, so the rest of the day was spent exploring Pearl Street (a few streets West of our vacation rental).  The area we are in is a super cute neighborhood south of the heart of Denver.  There are so many charming houses and boutique shops and local bistros, etc.  We had lunch at a place called Gaia, which Kyle explained means Earth in Greek (and I believed him since he’s the smart one).

The pulled pork burrito, YUM!

And I had the crepe (of course), but was slightly good and got it gluten free and savory instead of sweet.

And of course I had to check out an upscale consignment shop right down the street.  They had super cute items, but most were a small or extra small and even though I’ve lost some weight, I still have the body of a woman for goodness sake! Despite this minor frustration I find with many stores (because us average girls are more common and hence the average sizes sell faster), I did find an adorable gray dress at a reasonable price.  It makes me giddy just telling you about it! Pictures to come…hopefully. 
                After getting our fix of vitamin D for the day, my man and I took a little cat nap, fixed ourselves some chicken and asparagus and then got ready for the Avs game.
                Gah!!!!  I forget how much I love hockey until I see a great game and all the fond emotions come flooding back to me.  I didn’t grow up with a die-hard hockey family, but my grandfather and uncle are definitely die-hard Los Angeles Kings fans and I like to think that since I have the same blood, that’s where the love comes from.  Okay, so I guess it wasn’t a great game for the Avs because they lost, but the Bruins played really well and damn!...their defense was rock solid.  I mean there were at least three defenders in addition to the goalie in the goal area whenever the puck was near.  In fact, the goalie rarely ever touched the puck (despite MANY attempted goals), because a defender would usually block it first.  Even though our team lost, it was amazing to see a professional game (it has been a while) and hopefully someday we will live in a city that has a professional hockey team.  Hockey is just entertaining; it’s that simple!

My ticket!!!

Yeah, strawberries and frozen cheesecake on skewers, then dipped in chocolate.  Did I get one? No, because 1. they were some outrageous price like $12 for one skewer and 2. because I probably ate five donuts throughout the day! Also, take note of my FREE Avalanche plastic cup!  We got one upon entering!

Vodka lemonade, now that's what I'm talking about! Great concept, but not for $12 per drink :(.

That's me!

Giant jersey and the national anthem came next.

Some action or not...  I'm a great photographer!

                Well, tomorrow is my birthday, which I forgot about until this evening (see I told you I was awful with birthdays). Because it’s my special day, I get to choose what we do and poor Kyle is going to have to hang out with me while I go antiquing and thrift shopping!  Don’t worry, I figured out that if I give him my phone and let him play Candy Crush he behaves like a good little boy.  I guess I’ll have some pay back in order when his turn arrives on Monday!

                Hopefully I’ll find some great deals and items out there! Until next time…

P.S. It amazes me how rude people can become/be in big cities.  I stopped to let an elderly couple cross the street and the car behind me blew their horn!  We aren't in Missoula anymore...I hope you got The Wizard of Oz reference ;)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

White Out

               No, I’m not talking about the mistake correction liquid, but instead a winter blizzard.  Well, I’ll tell you all that today was my first encounter with those conditions and they sure do put a positive spin on the rest of the road conditions for the drive.  I could not see a damn thing and my only guides were the rumble strips on the edges of the highway.  It didn’t help that the “Star Wars snow” made it seem like I wasn’t moving at all while I was going 40 mph.  And to top it all off, it was still dark out and the wind was blowing in all directions to create a washing machine effect.
                I never thought I would be so happy to see Butte, MT and boy she was a beauty this morning with all the city lights on, red lit oil pumps scattered about the hills, and the Lady of the Rockies glowing (a monument on top of the mountains). The universe sure does have a way of making one appreciate different moments in life on top of granting wishes such as experiencing something new.  I sure didn’t think a white-out blizzard was on the top of my list, but I have something else to check off now!

The beautiful sky after passing through the storm.
And my artistic side trying to focus on the dream-catcher hanging from my rear-view mirror. Don't worry,  I was a passenger at this point!

                After the 45 minute blizzard that lasted until Deer Lodge, MT, everywhere else was rather smooth sailing (or driving I guess).  The only complaint I have is that Wyoming is windy! End of story.  I don’t know how people live there, but it’s just windy all the time.  We even saw a semi-truck that had lost its trailer due to the wind which was 65 mph today!  Anyways, other than Jackson (just south of Yellowstone and next to the Tetons), I didn’t think there were any other cities in Wyoming that I would consider living in, but Cheyenne (or Chain-ey as Kyle called it) changed that assumption.  Although the area leading up to the capitol wasn’t what I consider pretty (no mountains and brown with few trees), the town itself was adorable and has so many charming historic houses that I thought I was going to squeal with excitement!  Who knew I could get excited over Wyoming?!

Cheyenne, WY.

The capitol building in Cheyenne.

Another view of the capitol building.

                Well, after making a detour through Cheyenne (to see the capitol as part of our bucket list to visit every state and their capitol), we made it to Denver in good time and easily found our vacation rental.  It’s absolutely adorable and if Missoula had cute, finished basements like this house does, I wouldn’t mind renting one at all.  This place has tons of partial windows and lots of lighting.  The kitchen also has more space than our current rental, which I guess isn’t saying much.  Not to mention in the summer time, the owner has a bunch of raised beds with fresh produce and chicken eggs too! 
                Well, it’s been a long day of driving (13 hours) and we are off to bed.  Tomorrow we are going to figure out the public transportation (buses and light rail) and go to an Avalanche versus Bruins hockey game. We are super excited and since the Colorado Avalanche is my brother’s favorite team, he’s so jealous! Sorry bro! 
                I’ll keep the new things coming! Below is proof that we were at the capitol.  These are the capitols we have been to thus far:

Honolulu, HI
Helena, MT
Cheyenne, WY
Denver, CO

And we each have been to more than that, but we are counting the ones we have been to together!
Now do you still call it a "selfie" if more people than just yourself are in the picture?  Kyle and I had this debate as one of our many conversation pieces on the trip and decided that in order to call it a selfie, you have to take the picture and be in it too.  Am I right????

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How Not to Make Paleo Banana Bread

                Now I don’t know about some of you, but I like to put my own spin on a lot of recipes. Lately I have been substituting many different ingredients for regular flour and regular sugar.  These include almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, agave, honey, maple syrup, etc.  Before doing the Whole30, I would try to make many recipes less awful for you by using stevia instead of refined sugar or spelt flour instead of white flour.  Well, some of these “healthier” ingredients are not as healthy as I had thought.  Now I’ve been sticking to almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, and honey as a sweetener.
                Well, you knew I had a point to make and here it is.  I’ve been in the kitchen for a decent part of the day prepping for our birthday road trip to Colorado.  Road trips can be the doom of any healthy eating and I have learned to avoid disaster, you must prepare.  Last night Kyle made chili and soup for our first day or so while we are in Denver and that way we don’t have to go out to eat because we don’t have any food.  My task today was to use up a lot of our extra produce lying around by preparing snacks, salmon cakes and banana bread.  Well, the salmon cakes I’ve done about four times now and I put my own spin on them every time with different herbs and spices.  We had fresh fennel and parsley lying around from this week’s bountiful basket and I threw some of those two in.  The nice thing about salmon cakes is that you can (at least we do) eat them cold in the car with an assortment of homemade dipping sauces.  They make great high protein healthy snacks for long car rides as long as you bring a cooler for storage. 
                Now the next task went as planned and was simply chopping celery and peppers to have for yet another snack.  It’s always nice to have something crunchy when you’re craving potato chips, pretzels and all those other “traditional” road trip goodies.  Well, like I said, this task took about five minutes.
                But then I just had to take extra bananas from the handball tournament this weekend and decided that I would make a bunch of banana bread and freeze the loaves or give them away.  Yeah, that was until I decided to double the recipe to make things go along faster.  Let me give you a little background about myself and doubling recipes…
                When I was in high school, I decided to double the pancake batter batch and I ended up putting four times the amount of butter in.  That made them beyond salty and guess who took the first bite to come to this realization? My poor mother!  I have so much more respect for mothers after realizing all of the crap they put up with.  I mean if a messed up batch of pancakes wasn’t bad enough, she had to teach me to drive too!
                Anyways, you get my point that this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to make more and ended up failing completely.  The sad part is I made the recipe a couple of days ago and the loaf turned out amazing!  So, let me tell you how not to make Paleo Banana Bread. 
                You definitely don’t want to put only two eggs in when it should have been four. You really shouldn’t try to substitute other flours (coconut) that you aren’t familiar with when doubling. And you definitely shouldn’t keep adding the flour when the batter looks like a good consistency.  On top of all of that, I realized that something was wrong (not the egg part until it was too late), and tried to compensate by adding melted coconut oil and almond butter to give the batch more liquid.  Sadly the batter was still as thick as cookie dough and I gave up on the first batch.  Well, not completely.  I decided that maybe I could salvage the mistake and make muffins or cookies.  The muffins were a little thick and didn’t cook all the way through before starting to get too crispy on the outside (even on 325 degrees), but the cookies are beauties! 

Slightly under cooked muffins.

AMAZING cookies!

I might also add that I followed everything correctly (NOT doubled) in the second attempt, but that one didn’t turn out either.  Many things could have gone wrong, but I’m guessing that the coconut flour is just drier than the almond. In the end, the universe must have meant me to create my own coconut-almond-huckleberry-banana bread cookie bites!  And that’s definitely something new!

The second batch. So thick and didn't rise!

The next week will be filled with adventure as Kyle and I head to Denver, Colorado for a birthday trip.  Our plans include the Colorado Avalanche v. Bruins hockey game, a tour of the Denver Mint, and definitely a trip to the Zoo.  The hard part will be eating healthily while we are away.  We have a good start with all of our prepping and good intentions to get groceries rather than eat out for every meal, but I’ll definitely keep you in the loop on our triumphs and failures.

Cheers to our bucket list and experiencing new things.  Until the next big adventure…

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Man's World

                I’ve never been much of an athlete or at least haven’t been because I never stick with anything for too long.  I’ve played soccer and done swim team.  I’ve also been in cheerleading in high school, but nothing compares to the enjoyment I gain from playing handball.  For those of you scratching your heads right now wondering what the heck that is, I’ll tell you that it’s similar to racquetball in that you play on a court usually enclosed by four walls.  There are many different kinds of handball though and those include four wall, three wall, one wall, singles, and doubles.  You can combine singles and doubles with any of the court types, but I much prefer to play singles on a four wall court.  Without going in to too much detail, I will say that three wall hand ball is a great way to fine tune certain skills that are not completely necessary in four wall, but are extremely helpful.  Unfortunately, Missoula only has four wall courts (besides a one wall court which as the name describes only requires a wall)…
                So why I am I giving you a mini lesson on handball? Well, about four years ago a group of students, myself included, went on a short Ireland study abroad.  I made friends with a “man” (so weird to call my friends man or woman) who knew how to play handball (an Irish sport originally) and taught a couple of friends and I when we returned to Montana.  We were all thrilled to participate and although it required a lot of hand-eye coordination followed by thousands of failed attempts, we persevered.  Now, the other two girls and the friend who taught us have moved away and I am the only one who remains.  I had taken a break, not willingly, but because after graduation from the University of Montana, I no longer had a gym membership with a facility that had courts.  Well, as most of you who have been reading know, I recently joined the Peak Health and Wellness Club and they have courts! Six of them to be precise, and most of the Missoula handball players go there to play. 
The best part about this sport is that an eighty year old can still play a twenty year old and win.  It’s not necessarily a “muscle” sport but requires strategy, patience, and a lot of practice.  Most of the men who play are of an older generation and are trying to pass on their knowledge and skill set to a younger generation so that the sport doesn’t disappear completely.  It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of a new generation learning a sport that has so much history and a wonderful community of players to support us.  I might also mention that I am currently the only woman in Missoula (that I know of) who plays.  Women are scarce among the ranks of handball players (besides those in Ireland who are badass) and I have only met a handful (mainly pros) who play.  We need to step up in this man’s world and show them what we’re made of.  Once upon a time, women weren’t even allowed in the clubs where the men would go to play and now I have played with a male partner against other males.  All I can say is that I feel empowered to show them what I can do and to one day completely blow their minds!
Unfortunately, it’s going to take a lot of practice and training, but I now feel the motivation to complete all that work.  After losing all of our doubles matches in the Montana State Doubles Handball Tournament, we have nowhere to go but up, and believe me; I’m reaching for the stars on this one!

Get out there and try something new! You may surprise yourself at how much you enjoy whatever that may be.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Channeling Rosie

                I may not currently be wearing the iconic red bandana, but I sure do feel like a badass with MY drill in one hand and a hammer in the other.  I will now be known as Lauren the Riveter.  Too bad Rosie the Riveter has a much nicer ring to it. And as always, I ask myself, what’s my point?

                I’ve been accomplishing things out of the norm!  It must be the warm spring-like air we have been experiencing the past few days.  I mean 57 degrees?? We are pretty much turning into a desert over here!  Anyways, I FINALLY started a Pinterest project I've wanted to make for at least half a year.  Actually longer than that and I’ll tell you why…  I forgot my mom’s birthday!  Not this year, but a couple of years ago I completely missed it, not even recognizing my complete space-case moment.  I probably realized a couple of months later and have felt bad about it ever since! So, in an attempt to never forget another birthday again (which I am sooooo bad at…I even forget my own birthday, which is in 9 days), I re-pinned a craft for a birthday wall hanging, and rather than explaining what it is, I’ll just show you the pictures!

These are all photos taken from Pinterest as inspiration for the project.

So, I have been saving money (by way of plasma donations) to purchase all the supplies for this particular project and really feeling out the design I wanted (since there are so many versions on Pinterest).  When I finally decided to go to Michaels, I couldn't find anything I was looking for and started making “design choices” (what we called them back in Costuming when something didn't work out how you originally wanted it to).  Luckily they had a bunch of different sized plaques, so that step was easy.  Next, they didn't have circular tags, but heart shapes instead.  I then thought to myself that my mother always puts a heart around the date on a calendar if it is someone’s birthday (and writes their name of course).  So since my mom was already the reason I wanted to make this project, I figured she was influencing my decisions right there in the store. After that, I wandered quite a bit and even after asking for help couldn't find everything I was looking for. I did happen upon the wood letters for the title and that was an exciting find. I figured it would give the piece more depth than just stenciling all the lettering on.  

After Michael’s, I headed over to Home Depot.  There I got “eye screws” (not sure if that’s the technical term, but let’s roll with it) which look like a screw with a loop at the end.  

It is the technical term and I googled a picture!

These were necessary in order to have the birthdays of each individual hang from the month. And of course Home Depot didn’t have small enough “s” hooks (I know that’s a technical term!), so I had to make yet another stop at Ace Hardware.  They ended up having smaller sizes, but they were still too thick for the thin hearts and I didn’t want to break all my charms with a large drill bit.  I settled on a roll of thin gauge wire and decided I would make my own “s” hooks.  Oh, fun fact, my mom and I made jewelry for a hobby a while back and I do know my way around pliers.  Unfortunately, those are all still with my mother, so I made do with the Leatherman Kyle got me for Christmas to bend the wire in an “s” shape.  Such a great multipurpose tool!
So, what did I do?  I used some chalk paint and acrylic craft paint I already had.  I painted two coats on the plaque and painted two coats of a brown-tan custom color for the letters.  Before painting the hearts, I drilled a top and bottom hole in the estimated number that I need (with extras for new friends or family members) using a 1/16 drill bit. I then made a light blue and a cream using white, teal, and tan to paint the hearts.  I decided that family members would be big hearts and friends on the little hearts.  I would have done them all on big hearts, because they have more room to write, but the package was assorted sizes and didn’t come with enough to do friends too.  Anyways, while all of that was drying, I got out the trusty needle nose pliers and started working with the wire to make the size and shape “s” hooks I desired.  After those were finished, I measured out where I wanted the eye screws to go knowing that I needed 12 for the months of the year. I used the same drill bit to start a little hole to make it easier to screw them in.  That was my Wednesday for yah!

Prior to stenciling.

Painted hearts and handmade "s" hooks.

Then today more of my creative juices were flowing as I decided to stencil just the letters for the months as the whole word or even abbreviation wouldn’t fit.  I realized at this point that I didn't have a brush to do stenciling, but then found a smaller (very old) paint brush at the bottom of my craft bin that would do the trick (or at least I decided it would because I am impatient).  When all the stenciling was dry, I glued the wood letters in their places along with the hearts on the plaque that formed heart balloons. Then I ran in to yet another dilemma.  What would I write the names and dates with?  I thought sharpie, but I didn’t want the stark appearance of black ink and I don’t have a brown sharpie.  I rustled through our desk and found a long lost colored pencil kit from costume design.  Again, impatience got me and I busted out the brown pencil in order to get the last step of the project done.  I filled out as many hearts as I could, but am still waiting on the hubby’s side of the family as I am not as familiar with all of their birthdays. Other than that, this project is finished and ready to hang! I might also mention that the plaque didn’t come with “hangers” or anything on the back, so I used some I already had.  They have teeth on them so you have some room for error when hanging and you can find them anywhere that sells frames. You could also use two shorter nails and the extra wire to create a “hook/hanger” on the back.  A few of the inspiration projects used ribbon, but that would be an entirely different ball game requiring a trip to Joann’s and yet another choice!
So here’s my product and I hope you get inspired!
Does anyone else notice the "Jason" in the month letters? I had to triple check my month order when I noticed that!

These will all hang down when it's on the wall, but it was easier to attach them this way! We have a ton of March and May birthday's in the family.

And on top of getting a long overdue project done, I also cleaned my shower which hasn't been deep cleaned since we moved in to the rental about five months ago.  Yikes, and yes I know that’s disgusting, mom! As always, get out there and do something…

P.S. The Montana Doubles Handball Tournament is this weekend in Missoula and I’ll be playing! I’ll let you know how my partner and I do…

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Livin' Life

                Apparently this blog is going to end up being a once or twice a week kind of deal.  But the whole point was to get out there and live.  Well, we have been doing just that.  I have been on Facebook once since quitting and it was to upload photos for an event.  I therefore think I’m doing quite well in that department. Social texting, however, is still a work in progress. 
                Lately I’ve been feeling motivated! To clean the house…No.  To get projects done…No. Eating healthy and getting my body back to normal…YES!  Kyle and I completed our Whole30 on March 2nd (four days ago now) and I have decided to continue to do at least a Whole45 and possibly even a Whole60.  Who knows, I might even end up doing a WholeForever!  So let me gush about what I think about the plan one last time and then I promise I will zip it from now on. 
                So first of all, I will admit that technically according to the rules, I cheated.  Once you hear how, you will not think of it as a cheat or at least I don’t.  So we had breakfast out once and I got an egg scramble with veggies and bacon.  For those of you who don’t read labels, almost every kind of bacon has some kind of sugar (honey, corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, etc.) and since we were eating out, I have no idea what kind of bacon we had or if it contained sugar (I’m just assuming it did).  The next cheat was at a family friend’s dinner and I had two ribs (the cheat was the sauce that contained sugar and soy sauce). The third cheat was this past weekend on our very last day (again I’m going to overlook it, but I wanted to be honest). I had veggies and chicken that had butter on them as well as half a white potato at dinner.  But all things considered, out of 30 days, those were the ONLY “cheats” and neither (in my opinion) ruined my experience.  I honestly can’t say that I am sleeping better because I’m eating better or that I have more energy because I am fueling myself properly, but I will say that both of those areas have improved.  Also, I lost six pounds on this plan in 30 days and Kyle lost 12 pounds.  We did take “before” measurements (which are a better indicator), but we didn’t take our new measurements. I will say that my jeans are at least two inches big in the waist and even when I don’t suck my belly in, it stays flat. With all of these results happening at once, I will definitely be monitoring what I eat and trying to eliminate sugars altogether whenever possible besides the occasional treat.  As for Kyle (who kept telling me all the foods he was going to eat on day 31), he had three donuts on day 31 and felt really sick and decided to continue to eat Paleo as much as possible.  We have both come to the agreement to keep our kitchen Paleo and only eat “bad” things when we are out.  That way, there is no temptation while we are home!  When he decided to continue after four weeks of complaining that he wanted pasta or to make mixed drinks or wanted a dessert that someone had brought to work, I was absolutely ecstatic.  And now, I’d like to help my loved ones, friends, and anyone else who is interested in bettering themselves.
                I’ve heard a lot of remarks including “wow, you’ve got a lot of willpower.” And while this may appear to be true, remember, I am the girl who works at a donut shop and was chowing down on three donuts a day just because they were right in front of me.  I will give all of you some advice though.  If you don’t think you can do the Whole30 cold turkey, then start small.  The reason the Whole30 was not as tough as I had imagined is because Kyle and I were already eating pretty well.  We rarely had pasta for meals, we occasionally had dairy, but mainly cheese and only with a meal, and I had already been trying to cut out bad sugars such as high fructose corn syrup and even regular sugar (replacing them with stevia, honey, and agave).  The point I’m trying to make is to start small and eliminate or decrease one group at a time.  If you’re a pasta lover, don’t have it every other meal, but instead only once a week.  And if you love dairy, try substitutes like coconut milk (with little sugar) or greek yogurt (with little to no sugar) and you can always add natural sweeteners like honey or even fruit to make things more appetizing. The biggest thing to restrict and cut back on first is processed foods.  I can’t stress how many chemicals and bad ingredients are in these things and your eyes will be opened once you start reading them.  If you truly have respect for yourself you will be able to do all of this and more.  If I could do it, then you can!
                Now, in addition to the Whole30 I am continuing to better my image and mind set by working out.  I have been taking a Barre class which is becoming very popular and rightfully so.  It works everything (at least it feels that way)!  I worked muscles that I didn’t know existed (ok, I knew, but they had probably never been worked before in their lives).  AND on top of that, I started playing handball again just two days ago.  I was even convinced to play in The Montana Doubles Tournament which is being held in Missoula this year.  I adore the handball community (which is slowly dwindling) and always have a great time with the players (most of which have been playing most of their lives—even the 80 year olds).  I can tell you all that I am SOOOOO sore!  I can feel every sore muscle with every movement I make and they all ache from my neck to my ankles.  It won’t be easy getting in shape, especially since I haven’t been “in shape” since my sophomore year of high school (which is about eight years ago now). At least I’m doing it now rather than later when it will be even harder (as I know watching my mother struggle and still succeed).  You are my inspiration mom!
                Well, other than my activities becoming more and more abundant, I visited with a friend this past weekend.  She was back in Lewistown, MT visiting her family as she now lives in Minneapolis and is a baby photographer for the hospitals there—so jealous!  It was so wonderful to catch up with her as if we hadn’t been apart since my wedding.  Not to mention her family runs a farm (her mom mainly does and her dad runs a welding business that has gone international).  I love to hear her mother talk about the animals and how lambing is coming up in the next couple of weeks. Also, for this visit we were greeted by six dogs (two more than last time) and two new cats (added to the three house cats they already had).  Oh, and a house pig name Rudy!  They definitely have a lively time over there!  Oh, and her mom introduced me to Bountiful Basket (a weekly delivery of fruits and veggies) which I immediately signed up for when I found out they deliver to Missoula.  It’s going to be so much fun to have surprise produce every week and hopefully they will be a fraction of the cost!  I paid $32.50 (including a sign-up fee) for a mixed basket, so we shall see what we get and if it’s worth it.  Considering our grocery spending doubled last month, I’m excited to see how this will work into our budget and if it will help.  I’ll post an update with more info later.
                There’s so much more I’d love to talk about, but it would take another two pages, so I’ll keep it short.  I have been learning to make donuts at the shop and LOVE it!  Other than getting up at 3 am, it’s my favorite job thus far.  I have also been filling any spare time with Plasma donations or knitting.  I haven’t quite finished my first couple of knitting projects as I ran out of materials, but with the money I make from my plasma donations, I was able to purchase more yarn and even a Downtown Abbey inspired knit magazine!  I love that I can give back to the community and earn some extra spending money for my projects at the same time. 
                Now, I’ll leave you all with this: We got dumped on late last week and the wind created huge drifts that were at least four feet high in some areas.  Now I’m not complaining, because I love the snow, but it’s all melting with the warm weather and rain this week.  This means there are puddles everywhere and it would appear that the town is regressing to it’s past of Glacial Lake Missoula!  Point being that my dog wanted to go out today and as we were walking across our parking area I watched her tip-toe around a huge puddle only to realize there was no way around it and then I watched her slowly walked through it with high paws.  I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically and our neighbors probably think I’m crazy (they’re right I guess).  Let’s just say the scene was YouTube worthy!

                Thanks for reading and as always, until next time…