Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Currently - March 2016

Hey Friends! Welcome to "Currently - March 2016" aka "The Busy Season Edition." Most of my life revolves around work work work from mid-January to mid-April. I know I've been complaining about my busy work schedule lately but it is really hard to focus on anything else. It's not so much the extra hours as the stress of the deadline. 

I kinda want to pick up this t-shirt to Jonathan:


Here's what's been going on lately otherwise:

Listening To: I've been enjoying the "Happy Folk" playlist from Spotify.

Watching: Not much. My free time priorities are 1) exercise, and 2) reading. Sometimes I'll watch a random freebie movie from Amazon Prime when I'm feeling really burnt out... Mostly recently: The Cutting Edge - A classic! I'd really like to see the new Beauty and the Beast though.

Reading: I picked up a few library holds but I'm not sure I'm going to get to them all before they're due back in two weeks. I started with My (Not So) Perfect Life. I'm also making slow progress through The Danish Way of Parenting.


Feeling: Stressed.

Trying: To focus on the kids when I'm with the kids rather than thinking about all the work I need to do after they go to bed.

Craving: A night off.

Wearing: My most comforting item of clothing = An old North Face hooded sweatshirt. What I wish I was wearing? All the bright new summertime clothes I have saved in my Boden online shopping cart... Pretty sure I'm not going to make it the whole six months of my no-shopping ban.

Loving: Nice weather! Have I been this happy in the past when it finally starts to feel like spring? I don't remember. But this year I am thrilled to be spending more time outside. I foresee many trips to the playground this summer.


Not Loving: Busy season.

Praying: To not lose sight of my bigger priorities amidst the hustle bustle of this stressful time.

Looking Forward To: The end of busy season.

Eating: I am deeply obsessed with buttered toast. I know my go-to breakfast lately of a vanilla latte and buttered toast isn't the healthiest... But it's so good! Lately we've been picking up a couple loaves of fresh bread from a local bakery on Sunday - The cheddar jalapeno is amazing.

Planning: Summertime fun!

What are you up to lately?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Weekend [March 18-19, 2017]

This weekend went by too quickly and I'm not feeling ready for another Monday tomorrow. You've probably noticed I haven't been as with it on the blog lately and it's because work has gotten the best of me these past two weeks. But I was glad to take a break, other than some quick email checks, to enjoy a nice weekend with my favorite people.

Saturday started out with a great 9-mile run that restored some of my lost confidence from a difficult tempo run on Thursday. 

Swede and I baked Easter M&M cookies while Abel napped.



And then Abel and I played outside while Swede napped. We've been having really nice weather the past couple weeks - Just it time for spring! I think Abel and Gumball are the happiest to spend time outside.


We went to the library after nap time. The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend is the current favorite. Our babysitter came over in the evening while Jonathan and I went out to dinner at Steamworks. This was unfortunately the one disappointment of the weekend as we finished the night with an argument about politics over dessert. Date night fail.

At least there was spinach-artichoke dip.

On Sunday morning we went to church and then visited with my mom. After lunch the kids both napped and I started My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. Being busy and stressed at work makes me crave light and fun books. 

After nap time we had a fun trip to the playground then stopped by the fancy grocery store before heading home for veggie sandwiches (cream cheese, avocado, tomato, cucumber, sprouts) and chips for dinner.



Upcoming this week:

Meals

Mon: Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken & Swiss Sandwiches from Bev Cooks
Tue: Butternut Squash Carbonara from How Sweet Eats
Wed: Crock-Pot Red Beans & Rice from Gimme Some Oven
Thu: Sheet Pan Sausage and Vegetables from Averie Cooks
Fri: Chicken Parmesan French Breads from Bev Cooks

Exercise

Last week I managed to do my three scheduled runs but I skipped all cross-training in order to sleep in due to Daylight Savings. After a week without any strength & stretching though I felt like a slug, so this week I'm determined to get back in the habit of waking up early to get it done.

Other

My mom's birthday is on Thursday (Happy Birthday Mom!) but otherwise it's a quiet week.

That's all! Did you have a nice weekend? Anything fun coming up this week?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Reading Roundup - February 2017

Book Day! It seems like a really long time since I read these books. As I was looking over my GoodReads I couldn't believe some of these were February books because they seem so long ago. And every month I say that I'm going to update this throughout the month as I finish books so that my impressions are fresh but yet again I have failed to do so... Ah well - You do the best you can!

As usual I'm linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books!


1) Faithful by Alice Hoffman. 3.5/5 stars. The first chapter of this book was so grim I didn't think I'd make it through, but things picked up and I liked it quite a bit overall. After a tragic accident in high school that destroys her best friend's future, Shelby is overcome by deep survivor's guilt that threatens to ruin her own life as well. This is the story of Shelby's search for redemption and meaning as she follows a wavering path back to herself.


2) The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood. 4.5/5 stars. I really liked this book. It is really sad but also funny at times and heartwarming. It's about a the friendships between a 104-year-old woman, an 11-year-old boy, and the boy's father. While I'm not sure it's entirely believable that anyone could be quite so spry and sharp at age 104 as Ona... Her character, along with that of the boy, are delightful.


3) The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking. 4/5 stars. See HERE for more comments about this book and hygge in general. Overall this is a nice introduction to the Danish concept of hygge.


4) I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. 3/5 stars. I have many thoughts about this book but I don't want to spoil it for anyone else so... Please comment or email me to discuss! This genre of book - the thriller with a surprise twist - isn't my favorite at all but sometimes I just have to read the book everyone is talking about so that I'm not left out. I definitely recommend this book if you like the genre. The first big twist at the halfway point is very well done - I didn't see it coming at all! The second half... It's more gripping and fast-paced than the beginning, but I did guess the final whodunit, and I did not enjoy the chapters from the perspective of the husband at all.


5) Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein. 3.5 stars. As Swede gets older I've started to become more aware and more careful about the various potential pitfalls and difficulties inherent in growing up female in this day and age. I feel like the world is so different than when I was a child. This book is alternately fascinating and terrifying as the author explores Disney princesses, American Girl dolls, beauty pageants, the effect of various marketing schemes, and social media.


6) The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. 4/5 stars. I love a good rom-com now and then! This one is about the dueling personal assistants to the co-CEOs of a publishing company. Josh and Lucy hate each other, except... Maybe they don't. Yes - It's predictable and silly. But it's also cute and fun.

That's all! Please let me know what you think if you've read any of these books, and I am always open to suggestions!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Simple Pleasures

OK, So - You all know what "hygge" is, Right? When did this become a thing? I'm always a late adopter of the latest trend so I'm sure all the cool kids have been hygge-ing for a while, but I've just become aware of it recently. In February I read The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Weiking, so I thought I'd share some of the ways I'm trying to make my life more hygge lately.

In case you don't know - Hygge is a Danish term that is usually translated as "cozy." Although after learning more about it I realized that there is another important element which is community and togetherness. Hygge can be reading a book in your favorite chair with a cup of tea and your dog while it's raining outside. Hygge can also be having a casual get-together with friends, especially when there's no pressure to have a spotless house or Pinterest-perfect snacks.

Here is the Hygge Manifesto:


In terms of cozy... Did you see my new "hyggekrog" (aka cozy reading nook) last week? I've also added more blankets, more scarves, and a perhaps not-entirely-healthy love affair with buttered toast to my life.

In terms of community... Jonathan and I have a date night out every other Saturday night, but on the off week I've decided to plan a get-together with friends or family for dinner or game night.

I also really like the focus on simplicity, comfort, and gratitude. In that vein here are some of my favorite random little things that bring joy to life (when I can manage to slow down enough to appreciate them):

- I have a vanilla latte every single morning and yet it never fails to be special and delicious. Breakfast lately looks like this: Latte for me. Oatmeal for Swede and Abel. Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go <--Never gets old! We sit together and I pretend like we have all the time in the world and there's never any rush ever to get on with the day.


- One of my favorite things to do is browse through bookstores. I don't even have to buy any books! Just looking at them makes me happy.

- Happy Hour wine with friends is something I'd like more of in my life...

- Book and Tea Time on the weekend when the kids are taking naps and/or doing quiet time is the best way to recharge my batteries. Bonus points if there are also snugs from Gumball. And a cookie. [Might be making these Chai Snickerdoodles again this weekend!]


- Bath & Body Works (or Dr Teal's) Spearmint Eucalyptus bubble bath/lotion/candle - Basically anything this scent is so calming to me.

- Greeting cards make me happy. My favorites are either Papyrus (so pretty!) or anything that involves a pun.

- When you park at a meter that has some time left.. This happened to me today and was such an unexpected surprise. Maybe I should get in the habit of adding another quarter to the meter when I'm leaving! Pay it forward.

- This one goes without saying but hugs and kisses and giggles and smiles from the kids are all pretty wonderful.


Your turn! Do you "hygge?" What are some of your favorite simple pleasures?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Weekend [March 4-5, 2017]

Greetings! Did you have a nice weekend? A quick recap of the weekend here - 

Saturday: Seven-mile run with a new playlist = Fun! Weekend baking project with Swede #1: Chai Snickerdoodle Cookies. Date night out with Jonathan at Carvers Brewing Company - They have the best steak sandwich. "I'll have a steak sandwich, and a steak sandwich." <--Name that movie!

Sunday: Church. Weekend baking project with Swede #2: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cookies. A trip to the "fancy" grocery store, which - I'm a little embarrassed to admit - is our current Sunday afternoon family outing until the weather is nice enough to do fun things outside. Finally watched Pitch Perfect 2 which was not nearly as fun as the original.

Photos:






Upcoming this week:

Workouts:
I've been enjoying some new-to-me YouTube workouts from BodyFit by Amy for cross-training along with Week #3 of half marathon training.

Mon: Run 5 miles

Tue: BodyFit by Amy - Total Body Challenge #2
Wed: Run 5 miles with 8x.25 mile hills
Thu: BodyFit by Amy - Total Body Challenge #3
Fri: Yoga
Sat: Run 9 miles
Sun: Rest

Meals
I'll be the first to admit my meal planning has slipped somewhat lately in favor of quick, easy, and/or comforting food.

Mon: Skillet Chicken Cordon Bleu from SkinnyTaste

Tue: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Wed: Falafal (from a box) with Greek salad
Thu: Chicken Fajita Pasta from Budget Bytes
Fri: Baked potatoes with chili (from a can - Amy's)
Sat: Dinner & Game Night with my parents - Haven't decided what I'm making yet.

That's all! I'm really busy at work right now so I'm trying to keep my calendar light otherwise. Do you have anything fun happening this week?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Coffee Date #8

Hey Friends! Let's have a coffee date. I'm linking up with Kristen and Gretchen for What's New With You, although I have to admit that there isn't all that much new going on with me right now. If you saw my February Check-in earlier this week you'll know that I'm starting to feel a little frayed around the edges as I get deeper into my busy season at work, but I'm trying to stay the course.

So far I am only "a little frazzled."

Today is my 10-year anniversary of living in Colorado! This is approaching the longest that I've lived in one state. [Currently the spot is held by California where I lived until age 12.] While I don't have the right the put the infamous "Native" bumper sticker on my car (although the kids are 5th generation Colorado natives on Jonathan's side!) I do feel very much that this is my home state and I am very happy to have ended up here. I think I might pick up this t-shirt once my six-month shopping ban is over in May.


Something I've been thinking about more and more as Swede's gotten older is how toys and clothes are becoming even more obviously BOY and GIRL. I know there are plenty of gender-specific baby items, but plenty of toys and clothes and books are suitable for everyone. As the kids get older, however, there seems to be less middle ground between princesses and monster trucks. 

It's not that I'm vehemently anti-pink - It's my favorite color too if you couldn't tell by looking at this blog! - But I don't want Swede to feel pigeon-holed into only doing/being/having "girly" things at a young age. Or any age! I am planning to bookmark and re-read this post by Brittany on raising a girl to have a healthy body image every week for the next 20 years

And as Abel grows up I think I'm going to feel the same way about him. I don't want either of them to be limited by stereotypes about what is acceptable for a girl or a boy to do.

Tea parties with Peppa Pig for all!

OH! One more thing - Look! I have an official "reading nook" now and it's fabulous. This chair is a hand-me-down from friends who didn't have enough room for it in their new house, and Jonathan framed and hung this poster he gave me for Christmas, and now... Voila! A cozy little place for me to read and drink tea, dogs and blankets included.


That's all! What's new with you?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

2017: February Check-in

Friends, I tell you - February and March are the hardest months of the year for me. It's my busy season at work plus this is when winter starts to feel really long and dreary. It seems like we should be heading into spring but there is still a long way to go.

Given that caveat you might be expecting me to report that February was a complete disaster! But that's not the case. It's just that I can tell things are starting to fray around the edges. I'm not eating quite as well or getting quite enough sleep. I missed a couple workouts. I'm not quite a patient or mindful or budget-conscious as I'd like to be.

This is my ninth busy season so none of this is unexpected. My strategy is: HOLD ON. Don't panic. Do the best you can. Realize that things will slide but don't give up entirely.

Moving on the February report - The four categories I'm planning to check in monthly on are: Exercise, Mood, Books, & Budget.

But first... Just because I love this sweet face so much!


Exercise

The Goal: My official goal for 2017 is to PR the half marathon, but aside from that I like to exercise most days to be healthy and feel like my best self. I try to run 3x/week and do 21 Day Fix workouts 3x/week.


The Reality: I ran 59 miles in February (up from 53 miles in January) and I started my official training for the Shiprock Half Marathon on May 13th. I realized that the 21DF workouts have become a little rote after six months so I poked around on YouTube and found some similar but different (and free!) workouts by FitnessBlender (Thanks Leigh!) and BodyFit by Amy. I did 10 total cross-training workouts in February.

Mood

The Goal: My goal is to be more mindful, to be more present, to single-task, and to spend less time on my phone. The word of the year is REST.


The Reality: It'll probably come as no surprise that this is the area that has suffered the most as I've gotten busier at work. I'm still trying to present, especially when I'm with the kids, and single-tasking has become even more important as I try to be as efficient as possible, but I've definitely been more anxious and tense. I have been successful at decreasing my phone use to <30 minutes per day though!


Books

The Goal: I decided to try to read one non-fiction book per month this year.


The Reality: Yes! I read two non-fiction books this month - I'll tell you more about them in the next Show Us Your Books link-up on March 14th. Here's my TBR for March:


I'm half-way through The Hating Game and it's super cute.

Budget

The Goal: My goals here are a) Don't buy any clothes for myself until May, and b) Be more careful with random discretionary spending.


The Reality: I have been successful at (a) for FOUR months now, which is probably a record, although I did buy new running shoes. For (b) - I kept track of things I bought that we didn't exactly need, all of which are for Swede this month: 1) a couple new puzzles as I mentioned in my February Favorites, 2) Boden gave me $10 for my half-birthday so I bought two short-sleeve t-shirts for summer, and 3) I decided to try a three month subscription to Lillypost to get some fun new books.

Swede picked out this dog t-shirt herself and it's a new favorite.


Also! I have been keeping the Food page updated with new recipes we've been trying for dinner and weekend baking projects, and the first month of the Pen Pal Project was really fun! [Anyone who is interested in that should message Steph the Bookworm on Facebook and she can get your hooked up!]

That's all! Are you still holding strong to your goals for 2017?