Thursday, June 25, 2009

So Thankful

To my wonderful husband on our anniversary...
I'm so thankful that the Lord led both of us to Texas A&M.
I'm so thankful I applied to Business Fellows and you did too.
I'm so thankful my first memories of you center around you being an amazing friend to me.
I'm so thankful we went on that double date to Houston (except we weren't each other's date!!)
I'm so thankful you waited on me. I was not very smart back then. But you were.
I'm so thankful you pursued me the way I had always dreamed of.
I'm so thankful you took me to the hospital that night I cut my foot and that you fed me Sprite and soup.
I'm so thankful you came on that ski trip where you (again) took care of me when I hurt myself (this is a re-occurring theme!)
I'm so thankful for your vast knowledge of the Bible and God and that you let that part of you shine.
I'm so thankful you came up with that ridiculous analogy about pants and closets when we were apart during your internships.
I'm so thankful your PwC internship was not very exciting, because that left you free to email me ten times a day.
I'm so thankful you invited me to Houston and took me to Churrasco's.
I'm so thankful you gave me the confidence to be a teacher and believed that I could do it and was not, in fact, crazy.
I'm so thankful for the oddest but best graduation present ever - a Houston TollTag, asking me to move to Houston and be close to you.
I'm so thankful you helped me move all of my college junk and even let me store it in your apartment while I slept on my cousin's couch and learned how to be a teacher.
I'm so thankful you took care of everything I needed even when we were dating - you helped me find an apartment and made sure I was safe and settled.
I'm so thankful you made the trip from College Station to Houston EVERY weekend for an entire year.
I'm so thankful you would stay and eat pizza with me on Sunday nights, even though it meant you would get back to College Station so late at night.
I'm so thankful you still wanted to marry me even after listening to me cry about teaching every night my first year.
I'm so thankful you planned the most extravagant, special, memorable, and magical engagement a girl could ever ask for.
I'm so thankful you are an amazing steward of our resources so we can do things that really matter to us.
I'm so thankful you are a fantastic dog daddy to our little Blazer and you love him like crazy even though you thought you wanted a lab.
I'm so thankful you have always provided us with an amazing place to live.
I'm so thankful to share this cute little house in Humble with the best husband in the world.
I'm so thankful you love me all the time, even when I'm not lovable.
I'm so thankful you work so hard every single day to lead our family and provide for me.
I'm so thankful you don't raise your eyebrows (too much) at my grocery or Target bills.
I'm so thankful I get to spend my whole life with you.

I'm so thankful you chose me.

Here's to the happiest four years ever and at least eighty-four to come!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Breath of Fresh Air

Friends, I'm going to share something that will make me a little bit vulnerable. But, I want to share it because I have found a great resource that I want you know know about, and I think you will believe me more if I give you the background info!

I have struggled with body image for a long time. This is probably not a surprise to you because I really think that every woman in America struggles with some sort of body image issue. It's always been in the back of my mind, and sometimes, like lately, it comes to the forefront. I think about what I ate, what I should eat, what I didn't eat, how much I did or didn't exercise, and how much I weigh or think I weigh. Does any of this sound familiar? Sometimes I dislike myself (because of body image) more than I'd like to admit.

Last month, I decided to start Weight Watchers online. Never mind that I had tried it before and it didn't really help me. I started and valiantly recorded my points for a few weeks. It was going fine, but I wasn't really feeling any better about myself. Then, I got angry. Maybe it was the hours in front of the computer tracking my points or the fact that you have to track every teaspoon of mustard you eat or the fact that I could never stay within my points, but I got really, really mad at myself, food, and basically the entire world. Not the best place to be. I felt trapped and sentenced to tracking points for the rest of my life. I knew there was no way I could keep it up. I had just about resigned myself to the fact that I would have to worry about body image forever.

I fully recognize that satan is at work in all of these issues and all of these thoughts. So I have been praying against those footholds he has in my life. However, until this week, I had not found a practical way to combat those thoughts.

Enter Bethenny Frankel. Earlier this week, I was in Target and I spotted a book by Bethenny Frankel, a writer I'm familiar with from Health Magazine. She writes a monthly column about nutrition, and I have always liked what she has to say. Her book is called Naturally Thin: Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting. Sounds good, huh? Too good to be true, right? I was interested, but skeptical. I'm fully aware of the millions of wasted dollars spent on diet foods, plans, books, videos, and exercise equipment. But something made me really want to read this book.

I'm not trying to be overly dramatic, but I think this book is life-changing. I am almost done and have not been able to put it down. I even carry it in my purse and sneak a paragraph or two at extra-long traffic lights. This book is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. Never in my life have I felt so at peace about food and my body as I have in the last two days. Bethanny's voice in the book is validating, reassuring, humorous, and honest. I have no idea if she is a Christian or not, and there is not a single mention of Christianity in the book. However, I really believe that this book speaks TRUTH and SANITY into the very dark world of body image. And best of all... I think what she is saying actually works.

The book is all about how you should NEVER diet. She goes through 10 very practical, very common sense, and very do-able "rules" you can practice to be a naturally thin woman who does not obsess about food, but enjoys food and loves herself. I'm going to let you read the book yourself, but as a preview, here are her first five of ten "rules" and some of my favorite quotes from each. I think this will give you an idea of what the book is about and why her style of writing is so reassuring, motivating, and funny. She is brutally honest, but not condescending. She has a way of calling me out on things I do and think, showing me how utterly ridiculous they are, and helping me change my mindset and my actions.

Rule #1: Your diet is a bank account.
Bethanny says life is too short to obsessively count and record calories, fat grams, or points. We are intelligent adults, and no one should tell us when or what or how much to eat. Amen! She says you can keep track of your entire diet in your head if you think of your day as a bank account. It has to balance at the end of the day or week. If you eat carbs for breakfast, have protein and veggies for lunch. If you eat ice cream in the afternoon, don't order desert. It makes so much sense and is easy to think about in the course of a day. I've tried it, and I LOVE it. She also talks a lot about your "food noise" and "food voice". I thought this was really intriguing. She says your "food noise" is the negative voice in your head making you feel guilty and preventing you from making good decisions. Your "food voice" is your mind and body telling you what it actually wants to eat. It is always positive. She says to listen to what your body really wants, which is a balance of foods.

Rule #2: You can have everything, just not all at once.
This is maybe my favorite rule. Behanny says you should not deprive yourself of anything. You just have to make sure that you REALLY want something before you eat it, and you have to TAKE CONTROL of what you put in your mouth. You are in charge. If you eat a cookie, it's OK. Just don't also eat a piece of cake after dinner. You can eat a hamburger, but don't get fries with it. Make choices. The food will still be there tomorrow. Spread it out and don't deprive yourself, but don't have it all at once. And if you mess up and eat too much, here's what she says that I love. She says, "Remember your bank account. When you overspend, you need to rein yourself in for a while. But treat yourself well. Be nice. Nobody deserves to be punished for eating too many cookies." Relief.

Rule #3: Taste Everything, Eat Nothing
This rule sounds a little confusing at first, but her point is that most Americans gobble down food and don't even enjoy it. They Eat Everything, Taste Nothing. Instead, we should do the opposite. Taste a variety of high quality, really good food, but don't gobble it. Really pay attention to it, enjoy it, and eat just a little of everything. She uses the example of Italian people whose lives practically revolve around food, but they are not obsessive, and they are not fat! They just enjoy good food sensibly.

Rule #4: Pay Attention
To get the most pleasure out of food and not eat mindlessly, Bethanny says we need to pay attention to what we eat! We should eat only high-quality food, sit down when we eat, eat calmly, eat slowly, and really taste our food. This makes perfect sense.

Rule #5: Downsize Now
Here Bethanny gives practical advice on how to satisfy yourself with smaller portions and WITHOUT MEASURING. She made me laugh out loud in this chapter because I totally saw myself in her parody of dieting. She says, "I want to emphasize again that I do not want you to measure your food. You can eat like a normal, naturally thin person. You aren't on a diet. You aren't deprived or required to eat differently. You aren't eating obsessively or with anxiety or worry. Instead, choose to downsize, but do it in a sensible, non-obsessive way. If you sit there with your measuring spoons, angry at the world that you have to do this because you need to lose weight, you won't be happy and you probably won't lose weight." So, so true.

You'll have to read along with me for the next five rules :-)

If you struggle with these issues like me, I hope that we can pray for each other and encourage each other to a place of peace. I also suggest you run, not walk, to the nearest store and purchase this book. It's 20% off at Target. I think you will be glad you did.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Simple Summer Dinner

It is SO HOT. I made the mistake of wearing jeans out last week, and I nearly passed out. When it's this hot, all I want to eat is light, simple food. Last night, we had an awesome summer dinner that I made up from some recipes I've seen lately. We started with peach margaritas (actually I found these in Everyday Food.) They might be Brent's new favorite drink. Then for dinner we ate grilled shrimp with warm Tuscan beans and arugula salad.
Peach Margaritas: In a blender, combine 1 package frozen peaches (16 oz.), 3/4 cup tequila, 1/4 cup triple sec, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 limes), 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 cup ice cubes. Puree until smooth and serve immediately. (Makes 4 drinks)

Here's how I made the dinner. Since I made it up, all measurements are approximate. :-)

Grilled Shrimp: Peel and devein one pound of shrimp. Marinate shrimp in 1/4 cup olive oil, juice of 2 lemons, 1 t. crushed red pepper, 1 T. bottled minced garlic, 2 T. chopped flat leaf parsley, and 1 t. kosher salt. Shrimp can marinate for 15 minutes to an hour. When you're ready to cook, preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Grill on both sides until desired doneness. I like mine to be a little crispy on the edges.

Warm Tuscan Beans: Heat 1 T. chopped garlic in 1 T. olive oil over low/medium heat in a small saucepan. Add 1 t. crushed red pepper. Saute until garlic is soft. Add one can (drained) of white cannellini beans. Heat over medium/low heat. When ready to serve, add a dash of salt, the juice of one lemon, and 1 T. chopped parsley.

Arugula Salad: Toss 2 cups arugula with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Easy!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Good Things

My apologies for using Martha's trite and overused phrase. However, I think it's the best phrase to describe the list below. Here are the top 11 things that make me happy these days. I was going for a list of 10, but I have 11 things that make me happy. Deal.

1. Watermelon: I am usually intimidated by the huge watermelons at the grocery store. I've never bought one for this reason. I'm thinking: How do I know if it's good? How do I carry it out of here? How do I even slice this thing up? Can't I just buy the already cut up watermelon in the containers? (nope - too expensive). Yesterday I threw caution to the wind and bought one. This morning I tackled cutting it, and the minute I smelled that wonderful watermelon smell, I was in heaven. I actually was able to cut it up quite nicely, and I have been snacking on it all day.
2. Pool slides: Our new neighborhood has an AWESOME community pool. That is an actual picture of it below. Driving by, I just thought it was awesome for children. Wrong. It is awesome for everyone involved. I went to the pool with my teacher friends today. We sat in lounge chairs and did absolutely nothing. When we were too hot to sit there any more, we ventured into the pool. It was SO FUN. My friend convinced me to go on the giant water slides they have. After saying no about a million times, I finally gave in. Yes, I am 27. It was so fun!!! I will be going back there. Soon.
3. Coffee with Coffee-Mate Creamer: I absolutely love a few cups of coffee as I relax on a summer morning. Preferably while reading blogs or watching mindless morning T.V. I am currently obsessed with the new Coffee Mate flavor: Parisian Almond Creme. It is awesome.
4. L'Oreal Sublime Glow: Have you met me? I'm pale. I will never, ever be tan. Ever. I pray that our children will get Brent's lovely skin. I have tried every self tanner out there. I've tried the cremes, sprays, towelettes, gels, and mousses. And I have finally found my favorite. This year I'm using L'Oreal Sublime Glow. I use the one for medium skin tones. It is a daily moisturizer that leaves a fantastic tan with a little bit of shimmer that doesn't rub off on anything. I LOVE it. Best of all, it doesn't give me "carrot foot". This is Brent's not-so-loving term for the side effect of most self-tanners: they make your feet orange like carrots. Nice visual... I know. I use it every day. It's not much, but yesterday I was at the allergy doctor and he said, "Well don't you have a golden tan! Don't forget to use sunscreen!" It's the small things, really, that make me happy. :-)
5. An Organized Spice Drawer: I simply can not make a meal without a spice. At our apartment, my spices were literally thrown in a cabinet and it took me approximately 10 minutes to find the spice I needed and then another 10 minutes to throw all the spices I didn't need back into the cabinet. Now that we are in the new house and have an amazing kitchen, I actually have EXTRA drawers. But they were not empty for long. I came up with the idea to fill three whole drawers with my spices, laid out so I can see each and every one. I'm proud to say the drawers are still as organized today as they were one month ago. And I can find spices I need instantly.
6. Blogs: During the school year, I do not really have a lot of time to keep up with blogs. But in the summer, bring it on! I have time to spare. I can spend hours clicking from one blog to another. I have been inspired and added many new blogs to my "blogs I love" list.

7. Lemon Drops: I'm not talking about the hard candy, people. This summery drink is simply delicious. It's like lemonade, but with lots of vodka, so be careful! I could drink a whole pitcher of this stuff. Don't do that. It is a little time intensive to make, but it is worth it. It is like summer in a martini glass. This is how we make the Norwood version:

Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice and pour into martini glass:
1 1/2 oz. lemon flavored vodka
1/2 oz. triple sec
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

8. Nothing: Today I was standing in line at the grocery store staring at nothing in particular for about five minutes. Then I realized that my mind was blank. Empty. I was thinking about NOTHING. It was glorious. But of course when I realized I was thinking about nothing, I started thinking about something, and the moment was over. But it was nice.

9. My kitchen sink windowsill: My ever faithful Hobby Lobby delivered yet again. I was browsing the other day and found these adorable letters and cute pink picture frame. When I excitedly showed Brent the new set-up, these were his reactions: To the pink picture frame: "No." To the cute letters: "Oh, good. This will help me if I ever forget where I am." haha. He's very funny. So we'll see how long those get to stick around.

10. Tomatoes: There is NOTHING better than a ripe summer tomato sliced with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt. And if that's not good enough, add fresh mozzarella and basil. Brent and I are obsessed. We will have sliced tomatoes with every dinner from now until the end of summer.

11. Flowers: I'm currently in love with having flowers whenever possible. I just love the pop of color they add to any spot in the house.

Happy summer!


Friday, June 5, 2009

Deal Alert!

I found two great deals this week that I thought I would share.

Deal #1: $1.99 Hydrangeas at Whole Foods
The Whole Foods in Houston is selling beautiful hydrangea stems for $1.99 each! For a mere $8, I was able to create this table decoration for a big dinner party I had last night. I just cut the stems short and placed each one in a juice glass. I love the big, bold leaves of the hydrangeas! Super simple and cute. I'm also loving the colorful table runner I bought at Pier 1.

Deal #2: $7.99 earrings at Target
I was at Target to get some plastic cups and thank you cards. Of course, I also had to swing by the clothes section, shoes section, accessories section, and home section. Oops! Anyway, there was a sign in the jewelery section that read, "Chic earrings under $8. Made you look!" Well, yes, they did make me look. They have a really, really cute new collection of earrings for $7.99 each. I wanted to buy about 10, but limited myself to the two pairs below. I LOVE them and have worn the pink ones two days in a row. The blue ones are also rather adorable, if I do say so myself. And I do. They look WAY more expensive than $8 from Target.
That's all for now. Get 'em while they last.


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