Monthly Archives: December 2012

The 213 in 2013 Project

Hey guys — sorry for neglecting this space for the past few weeks. While the lack of posts began due to being swamped at work, it slowly turned in to figuring out a brand new blog concept for the year 2013. One that I’ve been working incredibly hard on, questioning frequently and bugging Mike about. But I’m finally happy with it. And I’m practically salivating for next year to start so I can finally begin.

I’m calling it the 213 in 2013 Project. And before you go on and sigh, “Oh boy — another one of those bucket list blogs,” hear me out.

Check out the tab, read all about it. I hope you’ll consider sticking around and going on this journey with me. It looks like it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday with friends & family. Here’s to 2012… and 2013 being even better.

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friday five: the season of giving

Congratulations – you did it! You made it to Friday and the weekend is so close you can practically taste it.

You know what that means… time for another edition of the Friday Five, featuring five ways you can help make a difference this holiday season.

While Christmas brings great sales and empty wallets, it’s important to remember that there are those who are greatly in need. So give up on going out for lunch one day this week or pass on that happy hour in order to spread some much needed holiday cheer.

1. The Humane Society of the United States. It’s an ambitious goal, but we at The HSUS are trying to raise $1.5 million by Dec. 31 to help support our life-saving efforts to shut down puppy mills, end dogfighting, retire chimpanzees from biomedical testing and reduce the suffering of animals on factory farms. If you haven’t seen the heartwarming story of Billy yet, a breeding dog that was rescued from a puppy mill where he was left to die in a cage that had been rusted shut, please check it out.

What a cutie.

Warning: you should probably have some tissues ready. A donation helps animals like Billy have a second chance at a better life.

Want to meet Billy and Adam? Don’t miss today’s livestream, adorable dubbed “Billy Cam.”

 

2. U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. While you’re out shopping at the mall for hours picking up gifts for your loved ones, consider picking up a gift for children in need. Or, you can make a donation online to support the program’s efforts. This is a great way to help make sure every child has the Christmas they deserve.

Find a Drop-Off Center near you.

3. Feeding America. It can be easy to forget there are others who are going hungry this holiday season while you’re circled around a table with a festive feast. Feeding America gives 2 billion pounds of food to hungry families every year. So while you’re writing up your Christmas grocery shopping list, be sure to pick up a few non-perishable items, ranging from canned fruit and vegetables to coffee and tea, to donate to your local food bank.

4. American Red Cross’ Holiday Mail for Heroes. We often take for granted being home for the holidays, surrounded by all of our loved ones. Sometimes something as simple as a personalized, handmade card can help brighten up the holiday season and Christmas spirit. This program allows you to send a thoughtful card to American service members, veterans and their families.

 

5. Good Morning America’s “Warm Coats & Warm Hearts Drive.” While the December weather may be throwing you for a loop lately, the biting cold of winter will be blowing down the door very soon. If you have new, gently used or homemade coats sitting around, consider giving them to those in need. I guarantee it’ll make your holiday season feel that much warmer.

Happy Friday everyone. Here’s to the season of giving.

’tis the season for a wedding proposal

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Can you believe there are only 20 days left until Christmas? If you haven’t caught on yet – the holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year. And while I’m sure this Christmas will be wonderful, full of the usual overdose on cookies, eggnog and wrapping paper, I know nothing will be able to top last year.

Why, you ask?

Last year, on Christmas day, Mike got down on one knee in his fuzzy moose pajamas and asked me to marry him. It was, and still is, the best day of my life (until I marry him, of course!)

It was probably around last summer that I began pestering Mike about when I could expect a ring on my finger. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty annoying and I by no means made it easy for him. So much so, that my own friends began telling me to cool my jets. I wasn’t a pain in the ass because I wanted a big diamond ring – in fact, I told him multiple times I would happily accept a RingPop if it meant being able to call myself his fiancé. We had been together for nearly six years and we knew we were going to get married… but patience has never been my virtue and I didn’t want to wait anymore.

I finally heeded the advice from family and friends to back off before I ruined my own proposal and I knew that it would come eventually… I just needed to be willing to wait. So I did. The summer turned into fall and the fall turned into winter, and before I knew it, it was Christmas day.

Mike knew that Christmas was my favorite day of the year and how much I loved being with family, wrapped around the Christmas tree with Bing Crosby crooning in the background. As we do every year, we woke up early and shuffled downstairs in our new fuzzy pajamas and slippers from the night before and took our places on the couches, chairs and floor.

One by one, presents were passed around to each person in the room, followed by the sound of ripped wrapping paper and squeals of delight and gratitude. New work clothes, fancy kitchen gadgets, blu ray DVDs, colognes and watches… everyone took pleasure in the looks of excitement on each person’s face as they’d open their gifts. Finally, all of the presents underneath the tree were gone and all that was left were pieces of ribbon, opened boxes and crumpled up paper.

I remember feeling a pang of disappoint in my chest. I really thought that he was going to propose. It had seemed like the perfect opportunity. But as quickly as it came, I pushed it aside and leaned over to give him a big kiss.

He sprang up from the couch and told me he had one more present to give, but that it was too big to fit under the tree. I was confused and sat waiting on the couch as Mike and my brother disappeared into the garage to go get my “mystery gift.”

Too big to fit under the tree? Well clearly it can’t be a ring, I thought. And for the next five minutes I sat there trying to think of what it could possibly be.

I hear the backdoor slide open and my brother and Mike slowly begin walking into the living room with one of the biggest wrapped presents I have ever seen. It was flat and thin – clearly a giant piece of art. They gently set it on the couch and Mike quick grabbed one other present that had been hiding behind the tree.

“Open it!” he said, indicating the giant present on the couch.

I sat down and delicately began ripping away the paper. Underneath was a breathtakingly beautiful black and white framed photograph of the Paris skyline, with the Eiffel Tower illuminating with light in the distance. I had just come back from studying in Paris for five weeks that summer – my favorite city in the entire world. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a love affair with Paris and left my heart there after I came back to the states. It has always been my dream to be proposed to under the Eiffel Tower, but I knew it just wasn’t in the cards for us.

parisBefore I could thank him for such a beautiful gift, he gave me the other present he had been holding in his hands and told me to wait. He quickly ran into the kitchen to grab a bottle of Moscato and told me he wanted  to bring Paris to me, since he knew I missed it so much – all of those lazy sunny afternoons sipping wine in the most incredible city on earth.

I opened the other wrapped present to find six wine glasses with tissue paper stuffed inside each one. He passed glasses around to everyone else in the room and handed me the last one, saying he wanted to make a toast to another great holiday with the family. As I pulled the tissue paper out of my glass, I heard a small “clink” sound.

I looked down and in my glass I saw it.

A diamond ring.

In that moment, everything became a blur. I looked up, tears rolling down my cheeks and in front of me was Mike on one knee, asking me to marry him. Under the Eiffel Tower, just as I had always dreamed, but even better. Because I was surrounded by my family, on my favorite day of the year, being proposed to by the love of my life and my best friend.

Needless to say, it was the absolute best Christmas present I have ever received and the most perfect proposal I could have ever hoped for.

It feels like it was just yesterday, not almost a year ago since I said yes to becoming Mike’s wife.

I’m beyond excited to celebrate our 7th Christmas together this year. I’m even more excited to marry him in 289 days… but who’s counting?

(lack of) veggie tales

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my road to healthiness – and just I’ve been neglecting it on the blog, I’ve been neglecting it in my day-to-day life as well.

Now that doesn’t mean I went out and ate and entire Pizza Hunt pizza with extra cheese by myself (I’d be lying if I didn’t say I kind of wish I had), but my vigor and ferocity from the beginning of October has slowly come to a bit of a crawl. Like today for instance… I’ve been drowning in a mental fog, coupled by a killer headache since 2 because I haven’t eaten a single thing today.

I’ve been doing the whole, “I’ll skip lunch because I’m so busy at work, blah, blah, blah…but it’s okay… I’ll grab dinner when I get home,” routine.

But, but the time I get home I’m so worn out and exhausted that I’d rather set myself on fire and jump off a bridge than cook myself a decent, balanced meal. So naturally, that turns into me snacking on things like chips and salsa, or maybe a few handfuls of goldfish. The ol’ trusted blue box of Kraft macaroni has even made a few reprises these past few weeks and I’m honestly not proud of it. I mean really, if I’m going to eat junk I know I can do better than neon orange cheese powder.

Oh and the three-a-week workouts? Yeah… they’ve become one-a-week workouts thanks to the “ugh, I’d rather rollover and hit snooze a million times than get out of bed to do jumping jacks and lunges across the apartment at 6 AM.”

I’m not discouraged though. Yes, I’ve maybe wandered down some roads that would have been better left untraveled, or cookies left uneaten, on my journey to becoming the best version of myself, but that doesn’t mean I’ve failed and that I can’t pick myself back up.

Here’s where I’m struggling. Big time. And I realize this is totally a Catch 22, so please don’t think the irony is lost on me, because it isn’t.

I’m tired on a constant basis. I yawn far too much and I always find my eyelids a little heavier than I’d like. This turns in to laziness with working out and cooking a good, nutritious meal. It’s easier to sleep in, obviously and it’s easier to reach my hand into the bag of tortilla chips instead of whipping up some nice veggies and chicken.

Yet, I’m fully aware that if I get in the habit of working out and eating better meals, I’ll have more energy and won’t be so tired all the time. Which will allow me to put more time into making healthy meals and working up a sweat.

Here’s where I need your help. I’m a total novice when it comes to healthy cooking. My entire life I’ve been told that the only way to eat anything is to slather carbs with marinara and cheese. And although I’ve spent hours surfing the web for “easy to make healthy meals,” usually they stay on my Pinterest board and rarely make it to stomach.

veggietales

So I’m outsourcing. I’m asking pleading you to send me your favorite healthy recipes that are simple, and easy to make. I’m talking something I can whip up in 30 minutes when I get home at 6:30/7 at night after sitting in an unhealthy and ludicrous amount of traffic. I’m also talking affordable, too. You know those nasty, little things called student loans? Well, they’ve found me and they’re demanding I pay up, which leaves me with little money to grocery shop with. But I want (need) to learn how to put the little money I do have into good use, to make mouth-watering, delicious meals that are chock full of nutrients and vitamins and all that other healthy jazz.

Please send your favorite recipes my way in the comment section below. I’d also love great blog recommendations for places I can find some recipes of my own to try out.

I’ll update this blog with how the different recipes have turned out once I’ve attempted them. Don’t be surprised if I come back with something along the lines of “Ewww” or “Gross.” I have the palate of a toddler whose main food groups are chicken nuggets and spaghetti.

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But… I’m getting there. One yucky green vegetable at a time.

Bon Appetite!