Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Into Action--Runs, Career Day, Ninjas, Pageants, Amity & Oceans

Thursday, March 20th, marked the first day of spring! I am so glad I live in Alabama. So much of the northern part of the country is still dealing with snow and cold temps. After the winter we've had, I will never complain about being hot again...until May.

Wednesday evening the sun finally came out--I went for a long run at Therapy Plus. It was a gorgeous evening to say the least. I've been trying out a theory that I'm beginning to really back: run intervals. For years now, I've been thinking I didn't need to stop at all and just run straight through, however long it may be. New studies say you'll burn more calories and increase stamina if you run in intervals or high intensity and then low intensity. I can tell a huge difference in my heart rate. It's also easier and more enjoyable that way. Here's a great article about how to get the most out of your running workout:

And on a side note, I don't think I could enjoy running as much if I didn't have good music. What do you like to run to? Mine is a mix of worship, rock, and pop. Whatever moves you--stick with it.
Music + running = therapy    
Love it so much! Beautiful site to see the onset of Spring.
 On Thursday, I walked with my bestie, Karen. We got caught up on life. I hadn't seen her since we went to see the odd movie, Labor Day with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. We left feeling like we'd just watched a Lifetime movie. No offense to Lifetime movie lovers and if you are, well, go see Labor Day. I'm half on my soapbox when I say I don't get Hollywood's strategy of releasing films such as "Labor Day" when they're not remotely close to the actual holiday. Why do they release horror movies in February and not around Halloween? I know there is a logic behind it, and that is one of the many reasons I'll never understand the movie industry.
On Friday, I spoke to a group of 6th graders at Evan's Elementary for their Career Day. This was my first experience at a Career Day. They asked a lot of great questions about tourism in the county, which was great. 6th grade is a very impressionable grade and it's important that they be exposed to different career opportunities available here in the county. I wore my fishing jersey and talked about Bassmaster Classic and informed them exactly how big Lake Guntersville is, among other things. I also wanted to enlighten them and prepare them for the real world with this list but decided it might not be best. But oh wow is it true!?!
 Note to self: next time bring a small gift for each student. They made me the sweetest card:

After a nice brunch prepared by the faculty at Evan's, I went to see my sweet friend and hair stylist, Shellie Frazier for a trim. She always does the best job. Can't go into spring without a fresh cut, right?

 Saturday morning, I went for a walk/trail run with my chow, Simba. He loves being out on the trail below our house. It's like his own kingdom. He melts my heart with his sweet poses and expressions.

That face...I can't even...

The reason why I run/exercise: to eat or in this case, drink.
Meet my weekend breakfast of choice:
My kitchen turns into Smoothie King on the weekends, pun intended.


I make them with my Ninja, a Christmas gift from my parents. This thing can liquefy ice cubes and frozen fruit and chop in seconds. Tropical Isle Hurricane was the name of this one--strawberries, bananas, pineapple, juice, and some protein from yogurt. I think so.
Saturday night I got to help with the Ms. Senior Marshall County pageant at the Whole Backstage in Guntersville. So exciting to see these sweet ladies, ages 60+ share their talents, philosophies of life, and style. I wouldn't want to be a judge--tough decision.  Mrs. Renee Pierce from Boaz won! Having known her for a couple of years, I was thrilled she now has the title and represents our county at the State level. 
On Sunday, me and my friends Karen and Jessica went to see Divergent. After reading the book, I wasn't impressed but was determined the movie would be better. Rare that that's the case, but it was true here. I loved that this movie was clean, less violent than Hunger Games, had great music, and is actually inspirational in the way it portrays girls and the power within. Proud to see it was #1 at the box office this weekend.
Honestly, after hearing Shailene Woodley was cast as Tris, I was like:

My generation will cringe when they remember that horrible ABC Family series, The Secret Life of the American Teenager with her as the main character and how can we not forget Molly Ringwald playing her mom! Just didn't gel for me. At. All.
However, I will say she has really changed my opinion of her acting abilities in such films as The Spectacular Now and The Descendants. She was perfect for the role of Tris and I am so excited to see the other movies in the series.
Annnnnnnd British actor Theo James=HOTTIE! How cute are they together?!
Take the aptitude test here and see what you'd be classified as. I got Amity What about you???
Amity = peace, kind, giving, flower child
A good movie + sushi + catching up with friends = perfect way to end a weekend!
Regret not getting a time!
Finally, this has been my theme song lately:Oceans by Hillsong United
I love the lyrics and music. What this says to me while it's human nature not to trust things we can't always see and scary to go on a leap of faith to do things we know we are called to do, Jesus is wanting us to do just that to reach the plan He has for us. And once we do, we'll discover a part of ourselves and our faith that is stronger and more rewarding than we could have ever imagined on the shore. I can feel God preparing me for such and I want to be ready, brave, and in complete surrender.
How's everyone doing with Lent? 23 days left. Still no peanut butter. Craving/Want level: 4
I'm trying to get into the blog process...still haven't established a set day to post...just posting whenever and still not fully sold on my design template/fonts, etc. (All subject to change.)
Thanks for your patience and readership. I'm always open to comments, questions, suggestions, etc.
And Happy Spring Break to all you students & teachers! Be sure and think about the rest of us when you're chillin & relaxin all cool. Have a good week everybody!
Peace Out from faction Amity, ha

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Living Out Lent

So here we are...12 days into Lent, the religious practice and preparation of the six weeks before Easter. My Baptist upbringing and denomination doesn't really observe Lent, but I truly see the benefit and need in my own life and Christian walk to use this time in special prayer, repentance, self denial, and focus on the Cross, the sacrifice, and also thanksgiving for my salvation.

I had to really think long and hard about this. Last year, I decided I would give up frozen yogurt and peanut butter. That lasted about a day and half. This year, however, I'm sure turning another year older and having more discipline (ha) had something to do with it...rrrriiiighhhtttt. But I am more determined this year. I know a lot of people who give up a lot more challenging things --gossipping, facebook, instagram, radio, and other foods, beverages, etc.

For me, I had to ask myself what is one particular thing that I do love and that would require a sacrifice of me to give up for 40 days. I am so in love with peanut butter--baking with it, putting it in sandwiches, crackers, cookies, ice cream, and just straight out of the jar. I tell myself it's the good kind of fat and it's packed with protein and always try to buy the natural kind so I can justify consuming it, but in reality, I know without it, I'd be sure to drop a few pounds and really not miss
out in the grand scheme of here it goes...only 28 more days to go! :/

On Tuesday before Lent began the next day, I did what any sensible addict would do before giving up something for more than a month, I destroyed the remaining Peanut Butter & Co. Crunch Time jar in my desk drawer. (Destroyed means inserting plastic spoon and eating the last velvety, crunchy bites
of bliss before tossing it into the garbage and saying goodbye). It was bittersweet, or actually the perfect combination of sweet and salty...oh I must stop now with the descriptions.

Believe me, the thought of having other nut butters besides peanut butter, such as almond butter, cashew, even Nutella have crossed my mind..oh about a dozen times...but I have noticed as the minutes, days, weeks are passing, my craving for the ole pb is fading. Sure, when I went to the frozen yogurt shop yesterday (who just opened up for the season--thank you Freeze), I did have to give myself a pep talk upon entering--no 1) pb flavored yogurt and 2) no pb sauce, toppings, candy bar, etc.)

And do y'all ever read/hear something you wished you hadn't? When I found the picture above of the
pb heart with the line through it -- harmful words were typed "no peanut butter," and it popped up
under this blog so of course my curiosity got the best of me. And now after reading it I don't know if I'll resume my peanut butter eating lifestyle or not... Other examples would be listening to anything John Tesh or Dr. Oz say. All good for you, I get it and totally agree. It's the follow through and obeying that's hard. Same with the Christian life. We know what to do, we know what's right and what's wrong. It's doing the right thing that's hard sometimes though.

I might have dramatized this Lent scene a tad in comparison, but I'm feeling good about my choice to give up something that means something to me to instead focus my attention on what the Lord wants
to show me during these 40 days and also turn my attention to the real reason we celebrate Lent and the coming Easter holiday.  Do you observe Lent? If so, what do you do and what are you giving up?

This is one of my favorite pictures from St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin that I took last November.

In other news:

I've been house hunting, which is not out of necessity thankfully, just getting that fever to have my own place. Sure, I could get an apartment but I really hate the thoughts of the rent money basically being thrown down the drain. No thanks. I want to keep saving and when the time is right and I have peace about it, I know it'll be where I'm supposed to be. Again, all part of the plan. Just hard to see
sometimes. I also have a lot to learn about the whole home owner role and what to look for in buying a home, getting approved for a loan, etc. I find myself looking at my almost one year old cousin, Kase, and thinking "Kid, you have no idea how good you've got it right now!"
But I really am looking forward to having my own place one day and really making it mine. I have my list of criteria nailed down, too.
* 3 bedrooms, 2 baths
* Good size yard
* Within 10-15 years old
* Good neighborhood
* Close to work/within 15 minutes or less
* Not a fixer upper (Ain't nobody got time for that!)
* Large kitchen
* Lots of storage/closet space

I also met with some of our Young Professionals in the area for a little planning on a Cinco de Mayo
event on May 5th. We know our location, just getting sponsors and other details nailed down.Stay tuned!

Friday, my boss and I fed about 600 high school anglers from all over the state in the ASBFA tournament, held on Lake Guntersville. We also fed them breakfast and a light snack at the weigh-in. It was neat because many of them are new to the sport and had never fished Lake Guntersville before. 226 boats launched at Civitan Park and then weigh-in the afternoon. In between launch and weigh-in, I went on a guided nature hike at the Lake Guntersville State Park. Their park naturalist, Patti
Donnellan is a great leader and it was a perfect morning for a hike..but I have a feeling the next
couple of days might be rough on the body. Just sayin. The views and being out in nature was so worth it though!

The high school bass fishing weigh-in was exciting to see, especially after a guy from Coosa County caught a fish weighing just shy of 11 lbs. Here is the amazing photo of the fish with some of the others that his teammates caught:

My cousin Hannah invited me to come hear a local Irish family/band The Sullivans play Saturday night at JaMoka's in Guntersville. Ever since we got back from Ireland, we both are so obsessed with Irish music, movies, etc. I invited my friend Ashley from Grant and we had the best time. We went to grab a quick bite at The Bridge Cafe next door. I highly recommend the shrimp and grits. They had live music and it's a great historic venue. We went next door and heard the amazing authentic Irish music from the Sullivan family, including their sweet daughter, Gronya, who taught us some Irish dancing.

They had real Irish peat burning, too. The great thing about it was as we were sipping our late night tea and listening to the music, in walks one of the sweet couples we went to Ireland with--Ron and Ann Thomas! We got to meet their daughter Katherine and son-in-law Derek. We had a blast dancing and singing to the Irish melodies. Love those kind of surprises and nights you don't want to end.

In honor of Monday's holiday, I want to make this.
Or anything with Bailey's Irish Cream or splurge on a Shamrock Shake...but in reality, I know I will probably just wear green and eat a bowl of Lucky Charms.
How cool would it be to color Guntersville Lake like they do in Chicago?!
What are you doing/making/baking/eating/drinking/wearing for St. Patty's day?

One of the best days in Ireland last year! We lost count how many rainbows we saw.

Today was a perfect day for naps, movies, and pajamas. This afternoon has pretty much been just that.
Happy new week everyone & Happy St. Patrick's Day tomorrow!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My Very Own Blog

This is a big deal to me. It sounds simple I'm sure to those who have been in the blogging world for years, but to have my own personal blog is huge. Sure, I've tried my hand at blogging a few years back when my sister and I traveled to London for the 2012 was very amateur but check it out for a good laugh

 We had fun and did some collaborating on what we wanted to put in the blog--mostly done at 2:30 a.m. when we couldn't sleep because we were so wired and restless, ha! Good times! It was truly how our family kept track of us back home and were assured we were safe! ;)

I also blog for my job and it's fun to write about what's going on in tourism in Marshall County. Check it out, too:

We just got through planning and working the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. It was a great event for Guntersville, with around 12,000 people in the city February 21-23, not to mention all the pre-fishing beforehand and the exposure of the city in the following weeks and months!

I love to read blogs, too. A wide range of topics by either friends I know who've gotten into it as well as more well known bloggers like The Pioneer Woman. Ree's love story with Marlboro Man captured me first in her self titled book, her recipes are easy, practical, and yummy. It's the way she writes, the humor, photos, and realness of her that keeps me reading each post.

I also love Chocolate Covered Katie because she A) shares in my love for chocolate and B) tries to make dishes that are healthy. I am not a vegan and rarely use her substitution ingredients but it's the read that counts, right? I mean, just to know that if I want to use black beans in my brownies, she'll show me how and also how to make them edible. I'm constantly researching new blogs on all things that interest me--running, health, faith, beauty, entertainment, etc. There is something so cool about being able to read what people around the world are saying TODAY about things that interest you.
OHH, I was forgetting one of my favorites:
You might have read her post a couple of months ago about Miley Cyrus. Great read!
She's a very gifted blogger and I'm pretty sure if we were in the same city/town/region/hood we would be besties.

With all of this laid out there, I make no promises of what kind of blogger I'll be. But here are some of my guidelines:
1) Stay focused on the theme of the blog 
2) Be Real
3) Post photos--they are one of my favorite parts of blogs. Although, please don't judge my iPhone camera skills.
4) Post relevant, thought provoking, inspirational, funny, and interesting posts.
5) Write content that I'll still be proud of in 10-30 years. The difference between blogs and journals is that blogs are exposed to everyone. Everyone has stuff they would never want others to know and on the reverse, I believe everyone also has a story to tell and interesting things that happen to them that should be told. Examples: A good book, a good album or movie, where God is leading you in this particular time in your life, your family or friend relationships, funny things, sad things, travels, tips, recipes, etc. It's all part of life and should be shared. This is your chance. If you have a blog, let me know so I can follow and if you have any comments or suggestions about the blogging world, I welcome them.

Life can be unpredictable, exciting, weird, funny, sometimes sad, and a mixed bag of different emotions and adventures. So this blog is all about living, learning, loving, laughing, and making the most of everyday.

Like today---how special I got to catch up with one of my very best friends, Lauren. We've known each other for 5 years and we have the best time together! I told her I was starting a blog today and that she, being the talented photographer she is, should start one, too! But also because Lauren always has interesting things going on her life. I've told her for years to write a book...this would be a lot easier than a book! Do it, girl!

Love getting to see her and us being able to encourage each other through school, relationships, our faith, family, etc. or just being silly and watching Gilmore Girls and laughing uncontrollably. Friends are truly one of God's best blessings to us and I thank the Lord for placing her in my life.

I'm so excited to start this blogging adventure! Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe and tell your friends.