December 18, 2013

Christmas Christmas Spectacular

"Crazy Christmas Spectacular" is a very popular Tumblr tag right now and ever since I saw it on my husband's blog I've fallen in love with it.

And that is what our life has been for the past three weeks: A Crazy Christmas Spectacular.

Eggnog, hot chocolate, making sugar cookies and decorating them with my bestie, Christmas movies, Christmas television specials (did you see the one with Lady Gaga and The Muppets?  It was incredible), Christmas singing and carols.  One night there was a Sunday school party, tonight there is caroling and a chili supper, last Sunday there was the Church Christmas pageant that Brandon directs, and this weekend there is Disney Christmas.  That's all before the actual event and Eve happens.

This weekend Brandon and I ran a Christmas race: the Reindeer Run in Thomasville.  I ran a 5K with a great time (34:48) and Brandon ran his first official half marathon (2:07).

This is us celebrating after the race.  We later went to Waffle House because nothing is quite as satisfying after a big race as copious amounts of breakfast food.

The other thing I've done a lot of this Christmas and Advent season is baking.  I love to bake, especially at this time of year because this is when you break out your best recipes.  

First is the gingerbread cake.

I made this recipe from Thibealt's Table.  I've already made this cake twice in a week.  The second time with dark brown sugar and I think that made it even better.  I made the caramel sauce from the recipe and felt like that was overkill.  I made fresh whipped cream both times and felt like that was a great compliment to this cake which is dark, moist, and very satisfying.  
The second thing I made were sugar cookies.  This recipe was great.  It requires a lot of butter but no chilling needed and the lines came out perfectly crisp and there was no spreading or bloating from the cut cookies to the cooked cookies.

These are just some of the ones I decorated yesterday with my friend, Jenn.  Look at the snowflake on the far left.  The lines are perfect.

This is a cookie of my dog, Jackson:

Last week I found a tick on him for the first time in our six year history.  This cookie commemorates that.  See the red hot candy near his tail?  It's supposed to be the tick.

Right now this just came out of the oven for tonight's chili dinner:

I used Nigella Lawson's Spruced Up Vanilla Cake.  My house smells incredible.  I'll you know how it tastes after tonight!  

December 1, 2013

The Season of Waiting

Today both at home and at church Brandon and I started celebrating Advent.

I did not grow up celebrating Advent but as an adult, I have learned to find it quite comforting.  Among all of the parties and decorating and final exams and work, this idea of Christmastime as a season of quiet, obedient waiting is both challenging and comforting.

It also feels appropriate as days grow shorter and the darkness extends.  One of the emphases of Advent is that Christmastime is about a "Silent Night."  Advent, for me, is about how in a world that is dark and still and silent- separated from God by sin- a world that doesn't even know that it is kept apart from its Creator, is in a place of waiting; a place of marking time, hoping for a Savior.  This time of Advent is a reflection of how Jewish communities before Christ were waiting and hoping for the return of their Messiah.

Christians once called the Christmas season a 'time of perpetual hope.'  Hope for a miracle, for a King who would bridge the gap between humanity and God.

I am looking forward to participating in this year's Advent.  I am looking forward to reflecting on what it must have been like to try and wait for the fulfillment of promises, of Scriptures, with hope instead of anxiety.  

November 5, 2013

October Recap!

This is a brief, but awesome, about my life during October 2013.

Firstly, I've been a knitting-fiend lately.  I've been making these adorable pumpkin hats for my nieces, nephew (who has not gotten his yet), and a friend.

Check out these cuties wearing their hats:

This my 'fresh from the oven' niece, Emi Lou, wearing her hat.  It's sized for a toddler but she'll get to wear it for a couple more years this way.

This is CeCi wearing her pumpkin hat:

Brandon and I also ran a Trick or Trot, sponsored by our local 4H.  Brandon ran as Donald Duck and I went as Richard Simmons!  Brandon's hat was one from the 80s that I think belonged to my brother.  I made his Donald Duck shirt.  The Richard Simmons costume is made from some short shorts (thanks Julie), a wig, and a red tank top onto which I painted "Sweating to the Oldies."   I won an award for funniest costume!

I tweeted my costume at Richard and he replied to me!  He said I looked adorable.

We also went to Disney for Mickey's Not so Scary Halloween Party but a review for that will be its own post.

September 10, 2013

Rest? No thanks.

I'm sitting here on the couch, about to start grading my students' essays, with a frozen water bottle tucked into my pants along the outside of my thigh.

IT band pain.

It's pretty common in runners.  It's a tendon that runs along the outside of your leg and it gets tight for a lot of people.

For the past ten days I've had hip-flexor pain and for the past 18 months my Achilles tendinitis causes me to wake up stiff and hobbling every morning.  All of this on my left leg and I know all of it is somehow connected.  I'm trying to find a sports massage therapist here in town but I'm still waiting for who appears to be the only one to call me back.

So right now I'm running, swimming, and CrossFitting a lot and most of the time I am managing some kind of injury.  Training with an injury means pain or discomfort on a pretty regular basis. And all of the information I find online tells me to rest.  Rest your muscles.  Rest your joints.  Rest your tendons.

I just can't do this.  I can't rest.  Even on most of my 'rest days' I still go on long walks.  I take rest days once or twice a week.

But resting to repair an injury or overuse issue is different than a  regular rest day; they're not scheduled.  Taking a rest day because I'm hurting is incredibly hard for me to do; it makes me feel like I'm missing valuable training.

But more than risking the loss of any progress, it makes me feel worried.

Worried that I will lose important gains or get slower or come back weak.  As a heavier, slower athlete losing any speed puts me back at 12 minute miles when I've worked so hard to get to 11:20/mile speeds.

Mostly I worry that I'll gain weight.  I've maintained a 50 pound weight loss for 5 1/2 years now and my total loss is around 75 lbs.  I'm at my lowest weight since my senior year of high school and I look great in my jeans.  I'm faster, stronger, and generally more awesome than ever before.  Exercise is a big part of that success and maintenance.  If I stop exercising, even for a few days or a week, I worry that the scale will move up ten pounds.  I also use exercise to control my eating, meaning that I eat to support my workouts and avoid certain foods because they cause me to lift less or run slower, so if I stop exercising I find it a lot harder to resist pizza, burgers, and cake.

So essentially I'd rather be injured and in pretty constant discomfort than risk gaining some weight back.  I believe that training for races and other events has been the thing that let me lose and maintain a weight loss.  The idea of giving that up, even for a few days or a week, is really disconcerting.  Shoot, actually it's really scary.  I'm swimming more as a way of losing and maintaining my weight but I know in my heart I'm a runner and a CrossFitter.  Swimming, while good, isn't as satisfying.

How do you deal with this?  Is rest hard?  In our world of busy-ness and where people glorify a packed calendar how do you make time to do something that might heal you but also might set you back?  

August 8, 2013

My wedding dress

So a bit over a month ago I married Brandon.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Our wedding was very much tailored to our individual tastes and interests.  I had my dress custom made out of my mother's dress.  Brandon wanted to wear a suit, no tuxedos.  I wore glitter shoes.

I'm adding this picture because you can see my shoes and that I had my dress monogrammed.  That was a really cool part about hiring a seamstress to make my dress for me; she added all of these kinds of custom details that I would never have gotten at a store.  Also, I can say that my dress was one of a kind, and couture!  

My mother was married in the 1970s and had a long lacy train and bodice.  The seamstress took the lace off of my mother's dress and then pieced it together to make my bodice.  It looks like one piece of fabric but it is actually dozens of smaller pieces of lace stitched up together.

As you can see I also did not wear a traditional longer veil.  I wore a type of birdcage veil that I ordered on Etsy.  I knew for years that I wanted a shorter, less formal dress and a long veil didn't feel right with that dress.  I also knew that I wanted a dress that showcased my shoes.  I've been collecting glitter shoes for years and when Brandon and I got engaged they were the first thing I bought for the wedding.

I would recommend that any bride consider getting a dress custom made.  It was a fantastic experience.  I knew that as a plus-size woman I wouldn't have a lot of options at a David's Bridal. or other larger retailer.  I also knew that smaller boutiques wouldn't necessarily carry my size.  Traditional shopping didn't seem like a good choice for me.  When I first met with the seamstress I brought in pictures from maybe a dozen dresses to show her exactly what I wanted.  Having my dress made allowed me to use all of my favorite ideas rather than sacrifice a lovely neck line for a shorter hem, or limit my color choices because I wanted three-quarter sleeves, etc.

Another wonderful thing was the cost.  This did not cost a fortune; not even close.  My family paid a bit over $600, which is only $50 dollars more than the average David's Bridal off-the-rack dress.  This cost is also several hundred dollars less than the estimated $1,100 average dress price.  Boutique dresses can cost $3,000-5,000 easily.  This cost included labor, fabric, and the dozen or so alterations she made.  I lost some weight, didn't originally like the sleeves, wanted the bodice to fit a bit more snug around the waist, etc.  At David's Bridal you pay for alterations by the piece; meaning they are not included in the $550 average cost of their dress.  

Finally, I really appreciate that I got to make my dress out of my mother's dress.  My mother was a smaller woman when she got married so wearing her dress as it was wasn't a choice for me; it wouldn't fit me.  Also, her dress was beautiful but not my taste.  I knew I wanted to include my family's heirlooms and this allowed me to take something older and make it my own.  Additionally I wore my paternal grandmother's earrings. Brandon proposed with my maternal grandmother, Nananette's, engagement and wedding bands that I wore as an engagement set.  He got me my own wedding band; again, this blend of the historical heirloom and something that is uniquely mine.  

I love my dress.  I love the short, Swing-Era shorter hem, I love that it fit me perfectly, and I love that it was made special for me.  If you're engaged and still shopping for your dress, consider finding a seamstress to make it for you.  It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to anyone.

May 27, 2013

Why don't I blog more and what's been happening as of late...

Brandon and I are getting ready for married life and June 29th cannot get here fast enough.  We're almost a month away and we are ridiculously excited.  

Since the last post Brandon bought us a house!  It really was a God-thing.  We decided we wanted a home in Brandon's home town, an older home with some charm, and we wanted a big front porch.  We went and saw about a dozen homes, I became enamored with a four-story mansion from 1900 that didn't even have a fridge.  We saw homes with holes kicked in the wall and we saw a piece of property that had mobile home hook-ups but no carpet.  It was a rough search...

Until we found the house.  It was being sold by an older woman who was getting married later in life to a widower and wanted to sell her home easily.  It had a huge porch, the size of a bedroom, was built in 1946, and was in Brandon's home town inside city limits.  I really believe it was a God-thing because the home never even went for sale.  Brandon's aunt found out about the upcoming wedding and told her we were looking for a home.  We went and saw the home, felt it was a great fit, and then she offered it to us at below the appraisal because she liked Brandon and I's family.  

This is us on our new porch after we got the keys.

Another great achievement is Brandon competed in his first triathlon.  He had been training for it for three months.  I really found watching him train like that very inspiring and encouraging.  It displayed a lot of tenacity and determination; he had a very specific schedule to get ready and he got in all of the training workouts he scheduled.

I was so proud of him when he finished.  

Otherwise things are busy, busy, busy with wedding stuff, packing up my house, moving us both into the new house (Brandon's already moved in, I'll be there after the wedding), and selling my house.  There is a lot to do, which is why posting is so infrequent, but it is all very exciting.

April 8, 2013

Also, a garage sale on Saturday!

Click this link for my address and a list of what's for sale.

Some items for sale:
Total Home Gym
DVD player and DVDs
Mikasa Italian Countryside plates and dishes
Glasses and cups
Women's clothing 8-12 and 18-20
Men's clothing
Women's shoes size 8-9
Sewing patterns and fabric, most of which is uncut
Fire pit
Crafting supplies

Recent Adventures

This spring has turned into one of the best, maybe the best, in my young years.  The wedding is only about 80 days away now and I can. not. wait.  The wedding planning is going smoothly.  This weekend Brandon and I got to test our wedding cake options.  That was by far the most fun of all of the wedding planning.  We're 90% sure that our bottom tier will be almond (the baker's version of yellow cake with buttercream frosting), the middle tier will be a yellow cake with pineapple filling, and the top tier will also probably be almond with buttercream frosting.

Easter was a lot of fun.  Here's my favorite picture from that day.  Isn't he handsome with his bowtie?  Good grief that man is good looking.

Otherwise we've been having a lot of fun.  We went to my first Drive By Truckers' concert last month.  Brandon is a really big fan and has seen them several times.  I enjoyed the concert a lot but the really cool part was watching him get all giddy telling me about his favorite band.  It reminded me of when we first started dating.

Aren't we just adorable?  Really, we're uncommonly good looking people.

The concert was really fun.  It was at a baseball stadium and the band was in the middle of the field while the audience was in the stands.  This means that even though we were on the very first row we were still 40 feet away from the band.  It was a weird set-up but it was still really cool.  The power went out to the main-stage in the very first song so for about ten minutes the band went around and visited with fans while the crew worked on the issue.  Brandon got to fist-bump Patterson Hood, one of the main singers and guitarists.  I don't think he's washed his hand since then.

This period of dating and engagement has been so much fun.  I am looking forward to June 29th but still trying to relish this time before we are husband and wife.  There is something about waiting to see each other that creates an anticipation that once we are married and living together most of that will be gone.  I won't have to until the weekend to see him; I'll have to wait until we get home from work.  There is something different about this time that I want to savor because once we're married it will be gone.

February 26, 2013

Mason Jars

I feel like I'm going to go all 'Joan Crawford' on somebody every time I see a wedding idea with a mason jar.

They. Are. Everywhere.

Candle holders, pew decorations, lanterns, cookie cutters shaped like the famous 'Ball' logo, vases, invitations with the image embossed on them, used as glasses, turned into 'the theme of your wedding' snow globes, etc.

Mason jars are everywhere.  There is not a thing wrong with these glass jars.  People seem to love them and that's great.

For them.

But, if you don't want mason jars at your wedding, man, you are out of luck.  Just look at Pinterest and you'll see what I mean.

February 19, 2013

My cat, Simon

Since the engagement I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what parts of my single life will stay the same when I get married and which parts I will need to change when I pair my life with Brandon's.  Two of the things that will change are CrossFit and my job.  I'll also be moving from Tallahassee to a town that doesn't have a stoplight.  However, I will continue running and lifting, I will continue teaching history to college students, and I will continue to spend as much time with my best friend as I can.

But there will a significant change and I'm trying to do the best with it now that I can.

I won't be taking my three cats, Idget, Simon, and Baxter, with me to Norman Park.  I have a lot of reasons for not doing so and while this is a difficult decision it is not one I took on lightly.  I have made tentative but promising arrangements for Baxter and Idget but nothing yet is looking good for my cat, Simon.

So, dear friends and readers, please consider helping my cat by making room for him in your home.  He's a 9 year old neutered male.  He's a real cuddler and will want to be near you if not right next to you.  This is a picture of him in my lap.


When I first got Simon he was meant to be a companion cat to Idget.  Nine years ago I moved into my first apartment and between school and work I spent a lot of time gone and Idget was clearly bored and bothered by my absence.  I found an ad for a kitten in the music building on UF's campus and knew this was a good choice.  It turns out the person who found him found Simon in a trash bag inside a trash can.  The kitten's howling drew attention and he was rescued.  

For years he and Idget were clearly best friends but in the past nine months Simon's status in the house has changed.  I don't know if it is because of his age or a change in his behavior but when once Simon's position in the house was as a firm alpha, he is now bullied by my other two cats and excluded by them.  He is very unhappy and it is in his best interest that he find another home even if I wasn't getting married.

He would be a good match for someone who either does not have a cat or who has only one other cat.  As an older cat he would not be a fifteen or twenty year commitment like a kitten is and has the maturity to not be destructive like a younger cat could be.  But don't let his age fool you- he is a fiend for a laser, stuffed toy on a string, and loves to chase and pop bubbles!  

If you're interested in adopting Simon I will make this a no-hassle experience for you.  He will be up-to-date on vaccinations and I'll send you home with a litter box, some litter, some flea treatments, and a couple of weeks worth of cat food.  

Please consider giving this genuinely sweet cat a place in your home.  My home is no longer best for him and I need to consider what may make him happier and that may be your family.

February 12, 2013

Short-Term Goals

Brandon and I have set a wedding date of June 29th of this year.  That is only a few months away.  I am crazy excited about this but it does mean the end of something else: CrossFit Tallahassee.  

There's a countdown to my wedding but I also know that it is this countdown to a place that gave me a community and friendships here in town and I am sad to leave it.  I'm not sad to leave FSU- I'm done with courses and my church home is now in Norman Park.  The one community that I cannot take with me to Georgia is the one I've made at CrossFit.

So, with that in mind, I want to make the most of the structured WODs that I can and I want to work harder to reach some goals.
1. Double-unders:  I am horrible at jump rope.  For all of the coordination that I thought I had for Zumba classes I cannot seem to master the timing of jumping rope.  My goal is to get ten double-unders in a three minute period.  This means actually getting dubs to begin with.
2. Skin the cat: I want to do an unassisted skin the cat.  
3. Box Jumps- right now I can jump what I have lovingly called 'baby grey.'  Well, I think I should be able to master 'medium grey' soon.
4.  Handstands: I would like to be able to kick myself up to an unassisted handstand.
5. Rope Climbs.  I've never been able to do this.  I'd like to get at least half-way up the knotted rope.

February 7, 2013

No half marathon for me in two weeks.

Man, I was so excited to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon on February 23.

Then January 7th happened.

Sometime while teaching I got a cold on the first day of school and the cold laid me flat for 10 days but the worst part was that the cough is still with me.  Almost five weeks later and I am only just now getting back into the running part and back into CrossFit.  A week ago I could barely walk across campus without stopping to take resting breaks to catch my breath.

Now I'm getting back into the swing of things and am humbled at how out of shape I am.  Two miles feels so hard and I am really slow.  Before Christmas I could go out and run 8 miles with less than 12 minute mile averages; not even close now.  Running 13.1 miles just isn't going to happen in two weeks.  I was very sad when I made this decision but I'm not trained for it and I want my next half to be an awesome experience; run/walking a four+ hour half marathon was not what I wanted for myself.

But this week and last week I've gone running and gone to the WODs.

Oh, the WODs.  I have missed them so much.  I missed my friends but there are other things.  I missed the way they made they made me feel about myself.  I love defining myself as a runner and as an extreme athlete and CrossFit and races let me do that.  I've said here before that I'll never be content being a casual exerciser.  I need to feel like an athlete and not just that, but as a bat out of hell, oh dear, this stuff is insanely hard but awesome kind of athlete.

Doing what others won't even bother trying is what makes it great.

So yeah, I'm back into things.

Guess what else, I've signed up for another race.  Yes, it's only a 5K, but races keep me committed and you get Girl Scout cookies at the end of this.

January 5, 2013

11th Day of Christmas

Today is the 11th day of Christmas and I found this on my fiance's blog:

Seeing as I took that picture I think it's okay to put it here.  Besides the ears and the raised the eyebrow, it's the eye patch that really sets Brandon up as an elf with questionable intentions.  

Even looking ridiculous he's still really hot.