Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wreath Making 101

At Christmas time I have always seen beautiful wreaths on doors, and I have always wanted one.  I looked at different stores to see if I can find one that I liked and one that I could afford.  The ones that I loved were way to expensive (champagne tastes, beer pockets), so I decided to make my own!  When I looked at craft shows or even premade ones at craft stores, they were usually between $40-$100 (for an average size one, bigger ones are much more!) and I did not want to pay that much.  Me=Cheap!

I went to Hobby Lobby and Michael’s to find the items I want.  I believe the entire wreath cost between $20-$25ßIt depends on if the items are on sale or not.  I took some stuff back so I am not sure exactly how much it was (and I have since lost the receipt L ).   I choose the accessories first and then the ribbon, but some people do the opposite.

Originally I wanted red and silver but 0nce I saw these purple birds, I knew I had to switch.

We also found these purple flowers (at Hobby Lobby) and grapes (at Michael’s).  I know grapes, flowers, and birds don’t really go together but I really wanted fruit with beads and they just happened to be purple!

The ribbon was a bit different.  I couldn’t decide between three: ornate design, leopard, or swirly.  I choose leopard!

We wrapped the ribbon around the wreath and glued it in the back so it would stick. 

We played around for a few minute to see where each item looked the best.  Then the items were hot glued to the wreath or clipped on (the flowers and the birds came with clips attached already).

Here it is on my door!  It is the perfect size! 

These are super easy to make and a much more cost effective option to purchasing one.  I promise, even if you are not crafty you can do it.  If you can match colors and use a glue gun you are set.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011

I must have been a VERY good girl this year because Santa brought me so much stuff for Christmas!  J  I posted several pictures below, but there are more pics on my SmugMug page.  Enjoy!
Jabba and I hope you had an awesome day/weekend/month celebrating the birth of Jesus!

Christmas Eve
On Christmas Eve afternoon I went to my church, New Hope for services at 5:30, then volunteered in the nursery during the next service.  All of the babies in their cute Christmas outfits were so cute.  I <3 babies!  During the service the preschool kids came up and sang a few Christmas songs and Pastor Tim challenged us that each time we see a manger in someone’s yard we should say out loud “Thank you God for sending Jesus to us”.  I am happy to report that I finished my homework assignment!  We also watched the Birth of Jesus-Facebook style.  (Google it on You Tube)

As I was leaving I watched a little boy getting baptized in the foyer.  He had told his dad that he wanted to be baptized by Pastor John.  His dad said they could probably arrange it, but why would it have to be a person named John? He said because Jesus was baptized by a John.  LOL.  Kids are so cute! 

After church I went over ot my Uncle Roger and Aunt Laura’s house for a Christmas Eve dinner.  We had appetizers and wine!  Plus my favorite deviled eggs and black olives!!!!  It’s not Christmas unless I eat both of those things.

I went home afterwards and played with Jabba.  Here he is all tucked in bed waiting for Santa Paws!

Christmas Morning
I woke up about 9 am on Christmas morning planning on doing some sort of exercise but that didn’t happen.  It was cold!  So instead Jabba and I opened his present!

What is it Mommy?

Jabba got some catnip treats, a laser pointer, a new feather toy, and a Furminator.  

Afterwards I made him put on his reindeer antlers!  So cute!  He was not happy with me.

Then I stopped at my Aunt Laura and Uncle Roger’s again to see my Grandparents (Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw) and my Uncle Wendall and Aunt Kay + their kids.  We had lunch over there and I got to eat deviled eggs again.  I brought the cake balls that I had attempted to make (tasted wonderful, but looked awful!) and they were a hit.

Then I made my way to Spring to see my parents.  First stop was my Mom’s where I saw two of my favorite little men, Hunter and Cole!

Look at my presents!  All for me! 

My stocking!  When Laura and I were little my Aunt had a fundraiser at her school (waaayyy long time ago) and they were selling Christmas stockings.  My Mom got Laura and I one and we have used it ever since.  Mine has a ‘S’ in it and Laura’s has a ‘L’.  When Tori was little she was always so jealous of our stockings!  Ha ha.  Aren’t they cute?!  Vintage.  My stocking had a martini mix, Starbucks gift card, pink fuzzy socks, a Lifesaver book, and candy!  Plus I also got some wine glass charms.

My parents bought me the running medal holder that I wanted, it says ‘Never Limit your Challenges, Challenge your limits”.

And a food processor! 

And a FLAMINGO wine stopper!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Thanks Mom and Keith.

My grandparents (Grandmother and Grandfather) came over also and they gave me a casserole dish and some Bath and Body works lotion (smells wonderful!).  I have officially come to the age that I am to old to show up to a party without bringing something. In the past, I have always been able to get away with saying that my mom will bring something.  Not so much anymore. L That’s ok though, because I asked for casserole dishes for Christmas!  Thanks G’Mother and G’Father.

I got Hunter and Cole both a shirt for Christmas (which Laura had given to them already without me being there. Boo), and a gift card (Hunter-Game Stop, Cole-Walmart).  

After leaving my Mom’s I headed over to my Dad and Pie’s house to celebrate with them.  We had lasagna and salad for dinner and opened gifts.  I got an In Styler for my hair!!  I had been wanting one of these for awhile now and I finally got one.  Thanks Dad and Pie.
After my sister left (she had to go to her mother in laws house) my younger siblings (my Dad’s three other kids) came over and I got to see baby Jeremiah for the first time since May.  He was so cute! 
I got home around 10 pm and said goodnight to Jabba shortly afterwards, I had to wake up super early to go shopping!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Drunk Artist

A few months ago I bought a Groupon for a painting class where you bring your own wine!  Score!  They really should make one where you can bring your own margaritas!  We used the Groupon Friday night and we had a blast.  We met a lot of new people (some couples were even on date nights<--sweet) and got to learn some painting techniques.  Did you know wine corks make great painting tools?!

Anyway, my sister Laura also bought one so we chose one on the same night.  We are such Wine-o's!

The Groupon was for a studio in Old Towne Spring called The Drunk Artist that is just a few minutes from my parents’ house. 

We made sure to buy several bottles of Moscato wine (Cupcake Moscato di Asti is amazing!) and got ready for a really fun time.

They also had finger foods set up that everyone could snack on throughout the night.

When you sign up for a class each date has it’s own picture that you can paint.  We choose this picture of poppies, but it turns out you can choose any picture they have and paint it.  My sister and I really liked the picture of the day so we stuck with it.

Each person got a canvas, brushes, water cup, sample picture and paint.

Your hands get covered in paint during the session so I made sure to take off my rings and add an apron so my clothes wouldn’t accidently get paint on them.

Me and my final project!  Throughout my project they kept giving me pointers and different techniques I could try, but I didn’t really love my painting.  At the end the instructor told me to create a focal point so it wouldn’t be a bunch of dots all over the place.  I took that idea and created the three blue flowers and I loved how it turned out.  I didn’t think I would like it, but my finished project was great!

Laura’s final project! We both agreed that didn’t want to look at each others painting until we were finished.  

Together.  It’s funny how each of us started with the same picture, but it ended up completely different!

I knew exactly where I wanted to hang it too!  I put it right behind my front door leading up the steps.

I had an amazing time at The Drunk Artist. I highly recommend going to that studio or any studio where you get to paint.  I really can’t wait to go back and try another painting.  There is one right by my house (different name though) and I think I will go to that one also!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Power of a Beanie Baby

You right remember this post from when I completed #30 on my list to send a care package to Iraq. Then, this post of when I got a letter back from one of the troops saying thank you! 
Well, since then a soldier (his name in Kona) from that troop and I have became Facebook friends, have been chatting back and forth and are now FB pen pals J.  He told me an awesome story about one of the items in the care package I sent them.  He said I can share it with you.
In the care package I sent him were mini beanie babies that the website said soldiers loved to get so they can give them to kids in villages that they visit. This is what happened when Kona’s troop went to a village about 10 miles outside of the base.  I have no idea where this was except that it was in Afghanistan somewhere (plus, even if I did know where it was I don’t think I would be allowed to say, lol).

----Kona’s troop went to a village that they had never been before and all the kids were afraid of them.  Kona had some of the beanie babies in his pockets and he pulled them out, a mob of kids came rushing towards him.  So instead of being tackled by children for little toys, he threw them up in the air.
One of the kids that didn’t get a toy literally kicks one of the kids that did get a toy in the chest, snaps the toy out of his hands, and runs to his house (he said qalat-I guess that means house?).----
Now, that story is funny, sad, and encouraging at the same time.  Funny because I can only image the scene of 20+ Afghanistan children fighting and kicking for toys that come in happy meals in the U. S. A. and all the soldiers just watching it all happen.   I really wish they had a video of that!  Sad because those children have to literally fight for a small toy because their parents can’t afford food, much less toys for their children. Unfortunately, violence is an every day occurrence there (everywhere actually) and that child might be taught it’s ok to cheat, steal, and fight their way through life.  The story is also encouraging to hear that soldiers are making a difference in those children’s lives.  A small gift of a beanie baby will bring happy times to that child and he/she will remember that a U.S. soldier gave it to him.  That child will (hopefully) remember the soldier who gave him that toy and when he grows up he will remember that we (U.S. Citizens) aren’t as bad as the Taliban is making us seem. ßOne can dream!
Since that story makes me smile I sent set of beanie babies, matchbox cars, and random Happy Meal toys to Kona’s troop so they can give them to more children.  The box ended up being two packages, one a large flat rate box filled to the brim of toys and one care package + toys.   Originally I had sent out three care packages and only two of them got to the troops (the soldier had come home and it wasn’t delivered).  The 3rd care package is sitting on my couch and I am resending it to Kona’s troop with a few extra goodies and toys. 

If you are interested in sending a care package/toys to a soldier go to and choose a troop today!  It’s super easy and you never know who’s heart you will touch. A small gift can make a world of difference to a child. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

2012 Goals!

Every year you hear of people who are making their New Year’s resolutions and plan on sticking to them no matter what!  Then by Valentine’s Day they have slacked off and often forgotten about them.  I have been known to be one of those said people and this year I have decided that I do not want one goal throughout the year, I want several!

I can have a broad goal of getting more physically fit or paying down my debt, but if I don’t have a plan to get there then I won’t ever get there and I will slack off.  Plus I am a list person so manually checking something off hopefully will work wonders for me.  So I have broken down my ‘big categories’ of goals and will work diligently to complete all of them! 

I have my 30 Under 30 list that I am doing for fun, but these goals will help me with making my life where I want it to be.  I don’t want to be where I am at currently this time next year.  I want to go and do and be.  Oh, and BTW feel free to make your own list and send it to me (or send me the link to your blog) and we can keep each other accountable.

Ready?  Let’s go!

My Goals for 2012:

-Complete a marathon
-Complete a marathon in another state
-Run at least one race each month-and race to compete not just complete
-Place in my age group and get an award
-Run more with friends (and convince more friends/family to start running)
-Make new running friends and have ‘running dates’ with them!
-Complete a triathlon
-Work on speed work workouts at least once every week
-Log every workout and post a weekly/monthly recap
-Run a 28 minute 5K (get fast lady!)
-Beat my PR for the ½ marathon
-Get 5 new race medals (I <3 bling)

-Pay $5k down on my student loans
-Save $5k for a house
-Have a $5k emergency fund
-Go out to eat only once per week-save more money that way
-Choose a realistic budget and stick to it

-Go on dates!  Maybe sign up for eHarmony or
-No settling!  If I wouldn’t marry him, don’t waste time with him.

-Get Jabba down to 20 lbs
-Spend more time with Jabba
-Leash train Jabba for more exercise

-Have daily quiet time

-Cook at least one new recipe each week
-Blog about said recipe each week
-Create a personal cookbook of recipes to have on hand (the ones I like)

-See my family more often.  Go on a trip with them.
-Schedule more time with close friends

Misc Personal
-Finish my 30 Under 30 list-5 months to go!
-Finish one new self improvement book a month
-Blog more!  Be consistent with posting

-See a new state that I have never been to (and not just ‘driving through’-see the state!)
-Run in at least a 5k in that new state
-Travel out of the country (cruises do count if out of the country)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Run, Walk, Crawl, Finish

You only get to run your first ½ marathon once, and this is my experience.  It’s a LONG post, but enjoy!

On Sunday, December 4th, 2011 I finished the La Porte by the Bay Half Marathon over and back the Fred Hartman Bridge in La Porte, TX.  You will remember my first 5k that I ran the entire way (I had always walked before) on my 29th B-Day.  So only 5 months later I completed a ½ marathon. If I can do it, so can you!  One of my friends Krista ran it with me (she also ran my first 5K with me). I completed a ½ marathon and I ran the entire time except at water stations and once on top of the bridge for less than 100 feet. 

Let’s back up to the day before:

I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget anything so I made a checklist.  (Yes, I am O.C.D., how did you know?).  It was filled with the things I needed to bring like my bib, body glide (love that stuff), iPod, fuel, etc.  I am glad I made it because I needed all that stuff to succeed! J

My friend Shannon made me a shirt that said I <3 Sweat and blinged it out for me with my name on the back. I loved it!

My original plan for dinner was to make pasta with tomato sauce and chicken.  I made it for lunch and it didn’t turn out very well so we decided to go to CiCi’s pizza and carbo-load.  I ate lots of pizza!

For breakfast I ate my usual bagel with sunflower seed butter and a banana. 

When Mandy got to my house she made me a glitter sign and I made a sign for Krista and Nicky (who was unable to race do to illness-get well Nicky!)

Krista texted me these signs that she made.  Love them!

Me and Krista before the race.  We look determined to finish! 

Mandy, Brooklyn, Ginger, and Tyler all left to go to mile 3 and Krista and I went to the starting area where it started sprinkling.  They sang the national anthem and counted down.  We were off!

Miles 1- 3-Nothing to spectacular happened in miles 1-2, but each mile I started to chant only 12 miles to go, only 11 miles to go, only 10 miles to go! I saw Mandy, Brooklyn, Tyler, and Ginger at Mile 3 and took a Gu and some of my Nuun from my water bottle.  I loved my signs!  I really need to work on how to take good race photos…I looked horrible and this was only at mile 3! 

Mile 4 and 5-Mile 4 was right before the bridge and guess what?  It started raining!  Yep, rain.  Boo!  Mile 5 began the ascent onto the bridge.  It was a climb!   Yes, I did get out my phone and took a pic. J

Mile 8(ish)-After one side of the bridge you went around a loop and you go back up the bridge. On the loop I ate a pack of sports beans and had some water. At the end of the loop, guess who I saw?  Santa!!!! 

Mile 10-By Mile 10 I was soooo ready to be done.  I saw the sign right after I finished the bridge and told myself it’s only a 5k, you’ve done a ton of those!  At the water station I refilled two of my water bottles with Gatorade and kept going.  I also met someone that looked like she was about to pass out.  I chatted with her a bit and asked if she needed some Gu.  I was planning on taking it myself at around mile 11, but she looked like she needed it more.  I told myself that there were pickles and oranges in my bag at the finish line, in addition to other food, and to just wait.  It started raining again about this time…hard! 

Mile 12-Mile 12 is when it hit me that I was about to finish my first ½ marathon.  Wow!  You make a goal for yourself on a list months ago and you train (and train, and train) for this one goal for months and finally you get to see it happen.  It was emotional (I’m a nerd!) and I kind of got choked up. Makes you wonder what all you can accomplish if you work on it.

Mile 13.1-I turned the corner and could see that big green inflatable finish line and I was so excited.  WOW!  Mile 12 I knew I was going to finish, but I was secretly hoping that I wouldn’t trip or something (which happens a lot), but I knew if I did I would CRAWL to that finish line.  I didn’t have to though because I saw Mandy, Brooklyn, Ginger, and Tyler about 100 feet in front of the finish line holding the signs up for me and cheering me on.  A little bit further I saw Oscar and Erika cheering, and then I saw my Dad and Pie.  I heard the announcer call my name and city as I crossed the finish line and a volunteer placed my medal in my hand.  I earned that sucker!

Immediately after I crossed my legs and knees started hurting and cramping.  Pie kept telling me to keep walking and stretch my legs, but all I wanted was water, food and to see my friends/family.  Erika and Oscar came and said congrats then had to leave pretty much right after so Erika could finish some work stuff ß I am sad that I didn’t get a picture with them. L

Then we met back up with Mandy, Brooklyn, Tyler, Krista and Ginger and found food.  At first the line was too long so I ate one of my pickles (Brooklyn ate the other one!) and Pie got me a sausage on a stick. (Super yummy!).  Then the line got shorter and I had 2 pieces of pizza and another ½ of the sausage on a stick.  I tried to eat the rice and beans but they were not good.

My official time 2:53:29, a 13:08 minute per mile average.

Pie, Dad, Me.

The after…

The medal is now hanging up on my racing bulletin board.  I need more race stuff because it looks bare. 

The Recovery Process-How do you recover from a ½ Marathon?  Take the next day off to have a Massage, eat Mexican food, and drink margaritas of course!

I had bought a Groupon for a massage a few months ago and I used it on Monday.  It felt soooo nice, afterwards I went to a Mexican food restaurant and filed up on carbs Mexican food and a margarita.  Yummy.

Final Thoughts:  I cannot wait to run another one, they are addicting!  Yes, my legs hurt, and sometimes I complained that I didn’t want to do a long run on a Saturday morning, but nothing beats the feeling of finishing a huge race.  I did run the entire way except at water stops where I didn’t wan to choke on the water or get an air bubble in my stomach and once on the bridge for less than 100 feet. 

I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to these people for supporting me at the race:

Krista-OMG girl, you are awesome!  You have completed TWO big 30 under 30 items with me and I cannot be more grateful.  You are a ROCKSTAR my friend.  I loved <3ing Sweat with you and can’t wait to get our FULL marathon’ing on.  I will see you next at your 3rd half marathon next month…you want a GLITTER sign right?

Ginger & Tyler-I know you mainly went support Krista, but it still means a lot to me that you cheered me on as well!  I can’t wait to cheer for YOU at the Houston ½ next month and I know you will do fantastic. 

Mandy and Brooklyn-I am so glad you came to stay with me on Saturday night and helped calm my nerves.  I loved the shopping, pizza eating, talking, and sign making that we got to do!  I know it was raining, but I hope you both had fun.  Next time I will choose one with no rain. J  Jabba says hello and can’t wait for you two to come back and visit with him (he says he promises not to be so crabby next time).

Dad and Pie-I loved seeing you out of the blue on mile 4 and mile 6.  I was expecting to see you on the other side of the bridge so it was a very nice surprise to see you when I did!  I still can’t believe that you got out of the car to cheer for me on TOP of the bridge with cars whizzing by. Lol.  Awesome.  Oh, and I loved the sign too and can’t wait to see the videos that you took.  It means the world to me that you were there!  Start planning a trip to NYC or Philly. 

Erika and Oscar-You are awesome for coming out to my first 5K and my first ½!  You guys are an awesome couple and I can’t wait to hear about your trip!  Dinner next week right?  Oh, and I forgot to order that soap!

Facebook friends-Thank you for all of your encouragement before/during/after the race.  I kept looking at my phone on the way seeking your kind words to give me encouragement before the race.  You all rock!

What’s next? Marathon baby!  That’s right!  I am going to start training for a marathon early next year and I have chosen either the Philadelphia Marathon or the New York City Marathon which are both in November of 2012.  The Philly marathon runs by some really cool landmarks including the Rocky steps (and his statue), but the NYC marathon is an epic marathon that would be awesome to race at.  The Philly marathon is where my heart is set at, but I can’t seem to get away from thinking about doing NYC.  My Aunt Tracy will be able to come to either of them (she lives in the Philly area) and my cousin Steven wants to do one with me also.  Only time will tell which one I get into!  Wish me luck. ;)