“I’m so Glad I Live in a World Where There Are Octobers”

What a magical month this has been. Anne from Anne of Green Gables definitely summed up my feelings when she said “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”. This month has been filled with pumpkin sweets, hot tea, crunchy leaves, crisp cool weather, and scary movies, and I have treasured every ounce of the autumn beauty. And while I think that October has been fun, I definitely came up short on my goals and healthy habits I wanted to set.

I started this month feeling bold and confident that I would workout more, eat healthier, and be more productive. I had goals in mind, but never wrote them down on paper. And you know what? I didn’t workout more, I definitely didn’t eat healthier, and I could have been much more productive than I actually was. I’m disappointed with myself for letting this month slip through my fingers, but I am comforted by the fact that a brand new month is just around the corner.

Yesterday Brendan and I spent the better part of the afternoon talking about our goals for the coming month and how we can save money and be healthier. After a lovely walk through the city, we decided to head to Starbucks to sit outside and enjoy the October splendor while we had our monthly budget meeting.

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With Christmas coming up, college loans to pay off, and every day living expenses, it can be very easy to get discouraged as far as money goes. But God has been so good to us and has provided us with all we need to live comfortably right now. In November, we are going to try to cut back on eating out, tighten the grocery budget, and cut back on buying coffee and soda. One thing that I think will be a big help with the grocery budget is meal prepping. I love meal prepping and the fact that it saves time and money, it has just been hard to implement into our routine since we have such different food preferences. But this coming month we are going to make it work.

Starting tomorrow I am going to go vegan for a week as a way to cleanse and restart my eating habits and preferences. While I do eat quite a bit of vegan meals now, I haven’t gone completely vegan for this amount of time in 2 years. The last time I did was the summer of 2014 and it was such an eye opening experience! Not only did going vegan for a week help me to be more mindful of the foods I put into my body and reading ingredient labels, I was also inspired to get more creative in the kitchen. I think this will be a great way for me to kick start the month of November and help motivate me to eat healthier throughout the month.

Here are some of my goals and healthy habits I want to set for the month of November:

  • Drink at least 53 oz. of water a day
  • Drink a Tbsp. of Apple Cider Vinegar everyday
  • Drink a homemade immune boosting ginger shot once a week
  • Workout at least 3 times a week
  • Take supplements everyday
  • Go vegan for a week
  • Search/reach out more for job opportunities
  • Get back into practicing yoga regularly

I’m looking forward to November and the coming holiday seasons! Recently I have seen God at work answering some of my prayers related to job opportunities and areas to serve in and I am eager to see how it all unfolds.

Happy Halloween everyone! Enjoy the candy today and start fresh tomorrow.

 

 

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Welcome Home Cheetah

This past Saturday Brendan and I welcomed a new furry member into our little family! Cheetah is a sweet, playful 3-month old kitten that was born at my parents’ house earlier this summer. Brendan and I had been talking about possibly getting a pet, and since raising and training a puppy would be a lot of work, time, and money we decided to get a kitten to start with.

The thing about cats is that people either seem to love them or hate them. I grew up out in the country on farmland and we always had lots of animals, so from the time I was 5 years-old I’ve loved just about every animal there is. But cats always used to be my very favorite and I had one kitty in particular that will always hold a special place in my heart. Brendan grew up having cats as well, so it seemed fitting that our first pet be a kitten.


At first I was a little hesitant to bring Cheetah home with us – having a cat can sometimes limit your ability to travel, they get into all kinds of mischief, and you have to clean their litter box. But then I thought about the fact that if we took him in he would be getting the love and individual attention he needs and would be safer here in our little apartment than out in the country where my parents have had coyotes attack our animals. So with these thoughts in mind, I gladly took Cheetah in.

Our first week with Cheetah has been fun, exciting, frustrating, and annoying. While I was so excited to shop for him and buy him little treats and toys to play with, I kind of forgot about how much work it would be to train him and get him into a daily routine. Granted, training a cat is nowhere near as difficult as training a dog, but we did have to teach him to use his litter box (not a problem), not claw at the furniture, to stay on the ground while we are eating, and sleep when we are sleeping.


I had a mini anxiety attack the other day when I started looking around at my nice little apartment that was now cluttered with toys, had litter scattered on the floor, and the couch covered in a bed sheet so Cheetah wouldn’t claw at it. And then to add to all of that Cheetah got sick and threw up all over the floor! I thought to myself “well, this might be the end of having a nice clean apartment”, but that’s not true. As Cheetah gets older, he will learn how to behave and I’ll find a place for his toys and learn to clean up the extra little unexpected messes. In the moment it can just be frustrating.

Getting a kitten has taught me one thing: I’m definitely not ready to have kids yet!

Keep an eye out for more updates on my blog about Cheetah and how he’s adjusting to the city kitty life. 😊

Chase the Blues Away

I’m starting my day off with some Norah Jones and a big cup of coffee! I just got her new cd Day Breaks in the mail yesterday and so far I am loving it – I was so excited to hear that she’d be returning to her jazzy roots. Jazz music is good for the soul.

After a somewhat emotionally draining weekend, this week has been refreshing for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Do you ever have those days where you just feel like you’re in a funk and you don’t know why? Well, that was me Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

For starters, last Monday my car Gypsy decided to give me a scare. As I was on my way home from the gym, the check engine light came on and the steering wheel locked up on me. Luckily, I was almost home and was in a good spot for it to happen. Brendan was able to leave work and run over to help me out (so thankful he works close by!). I was so worried that my car was dying and that would be the end of her, which upset me because I love my old car and don’t really want a newer one.

Physically speaking, I haven’t felt the best this past week. I’ve had some obnoxious headaches that just won’t seem to go away. I used to get headaches regularly, but over the past year or so haven’t really had one. I don’t like to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen unless I’m dying, I’d rather use more natural pain relievers (drinking a cup of ginger tea which helps with inflammation, essential oils, etc.) and finding the root of the problem. I think these headaches could be a combination of not getting enough sleep, going three weeks without taking my vitamin d, vitamin e, and evening primrose oil supplements, and watching/reading the news. No joke on that last one. Saturday I was SO stressed out over all of this presidential election crap. I really hate seeing friends and family members arguing back and forth about which candidate they think should be president. It’s frustrating, tiring, and so draining (mentally, emotionally, and spiritually). I have temporarily blocked several people from my Facebook newsfeed until the election is over because I was getting tired of seeing all of the hateful posts about either or both candidates.

So, to get away from the stress and negativity for a while, I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone and Brendan and I went to get my engagement ring and wedding band cleaned. We also went to a puppy shop, Barnes and Noble, and Starbucks – so by the time I had had my fill of puppies, books, and coffee I was feeling better.

Another thing that has had me stressed out recently is the fact that I still haven’t been able to find a job. God has been so good to Brendan and me and has graciously provided for all of our needs since we got married and moved earlier this year. Brendan has a wonderful job in his field that is close to home and he makes enough to comfortably support us and I am so so thankful for that. However, there is this part of me that feels incomplete because I currently don’t have a job. I used to feel this way during my first couple years of college when I wasn’t working. I like working and staying busy and feeling like I’m doing something beneficial with my time. And I know I shouldn’t care what other people think, but I’m always worried that people will look at the fact that I don’t have a job and think that I am lazy and don’t care. But I know that God’s timing is perfect, I just need to keep searching and trust that an opportunity will present itself when it’s meant to be.

In the meantime, I am continuing to blog, journal, and read almost daily so that I can keep in the practice of writing and keeping my mind sharp. I always feel better after writing and/or blogging and reading helps me relax. I have found that if I set aside a certain time every day for reading and writing, regardless of whether I feel like it or not, I am forced to create and get my imagination and creativity flowing.

Vegetarian Awareness Month – My Journey to a Vegetarian Lifestyle 

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for me to share my story about becoming a vegetarian.

This December I will have been a vegetarian for 5 years. I’ve learned a lot about health, wellness, and nutrition since giving up meat. And I’ve also learned a lot about the livestock and meat industry. All of what I have learned has only helped me confirm that I made the right decision to give up meat.

My journey to vegetarianism was a somewhat gradual one. I started eating healthier at the age of 14 and took small steps in the direction of becoming a vegetarian such as giving up red meat. For those of you that don’t know, between the ages of 14-16 I went through what could probably be considered an eating disorder. I severely restricted my calorie and fat intake, ate the same fat free foods every day, and lost a lot of weight. Anyway, it wasn’t until I was 17 going on 18 that I started intentionally eating healthy.

In the summer of 2011, I checked out a book from the library on vegetarianism. It was a short book, and while it was interesting, it certainly wasn’t life changing. But, in a sense it did change my life. After I read that book, I secretly decided that I would give up meat for a while and see how it went. I say “secretly” because I didn’t tell my family that I was giving up meat. And the reason being is that I knew they would kind of freak out, not understand why I was giving up meat, and give me a hard time about it. So, I simply kept it to myself, because I knew that it was something I wanted to do for myself.

It wasn’t always easy, but I ended up going a month without eating meat. I opted for meatless side dishes when my mom cooked dinner, and I actually did get in the kitchen and cook some of my own meals and try new recipes like homemade hummus wraps. For me, this was a crucial turning point in my journey to a healthy lifestyle after going through some dark days with my eating disorder. I was finally trying to eat healthfully for every meal and I wasn’t feeling guilty about eating. I even ate peanut butter for the first time in years, a food I had sworn off of because of its high fat content.

I could have gone longer than a month without meat, but I was starting my freshman year of college and moving into a dorm, which was a big change for me. My dad wanted to take me out to eat at Red Lobster for my first (and only) time the day I moved into my dorm, so we went together and I ordered shrimp scampi. My dad didn’t know that I had been avoiding meat for the last month, so instead of trying to explain it to him, I just ordered the shrimp. And it was here that I kind of fell back into my old ways of eating (meat that is). I went back to eating meat (chicken and turkey) for the next 3 months, because the dining options on campus were new to me and I was always going out to lunch and dinner with friends and other girls on my hall. I just didn’t want to have to worry about always finding something meatless to eat.

When December rolled around and I was finishing up my first semester of college and about to go home for Christmas break, I decided that I had had enough of meat. So on December 14th I ate my very last piece of chicken in a salad from a restaurant on campus and I’ve never looked back.

To be honest, I don’t remember when or how I told my family that I decided to give up meat. But I remember that my brothers gave me a really hard time about it and made fun of me, and my dad went from thinking I was silly, to generally being concerned for my health. I remember one day he walked in the room and was telling me that I couldn’t NOT eat meat, because I would die! He said he knew a lady at work who was a vegetarian, her skin turned green and she got really sick and almost died because she wasn’t getting the nutrients and protein she needed. Another time, dad said he was concerned that I would become anemic because I wasn’t getting iron from red meat. I tried explaining that I had done my research and read up on the foods that were important for me to eat to get the nutrients I needed from dairy products and plant sources, but he didn’t seem convinced. And to be honest, it upset me that nobody seemed to believe me or care that I wanted to be healthier.

Left: Me in 2012, I had been a vegetarian for 6 months. Right: Me in early 2016, vegetarian for a little over 4 years. Since becoming vegetarian I have dropped two jean sizes and gained a lot of confidence. 

I brushed off my family’s negative reactions and continued to educate myself on nutrition and a vegetarian lifestyle. As people found out that I was vegetarian I would get asked questions like “But why did you give meat up?” and “Are you one of those weird vegetarians that does it for the animals?”, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I would always respond with “I gave up meat for health reasons. And no, I didn’t quit eating meat ‘for the animals”. Years went by before I had a better, more educated response than that.

I said I gave up meat for health reasons, not because I was allergic to meat or anything drastic like that, but because I had gone a month without it and I knew that I felt physically healthier without it. And as much as I love animals I didn’t quit eating meat because I felt guilty for eating them. I didn’t get upset that my friends and family still wanted to eat meat, I just knew that I didn’t want to and I didn’t want my family judging me for it.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve learned a lot about health and nutrition, and I’ve slowly been incorporating more vegan foods into my diet and avoiding dairy when I can. I’ve stopped using cow’s milk, I no longer buy yogurt, and I’ve almost given eggs up (about once every two months or so I might buy local organic eggs from the farmer’s market). I would love to go fully vegan someday, but for now I am listening to my body and only eating dairy every now and then. I have thoughts I would like to share about veganism, but I will save that for a separate post.

What started out as something new to try just to see if I could do it, became a lifestyle. As time went on, I realized how easy it really was to be a vegetarian and opt out of eating meat dishes. I have gotten more creative in the kitchen with the ingredients I use and the dishes I make, and have even gotten my husband’s approval on some of my vegetarian meals (which is a huge win). I know becoming a vegetarian isn’t for everyone, but I highly recommend going meatless for at least a couple meals a week. Not only could it save money, but you might just be surprised at how tasty meatless meals can be!

Me at a wedding this past August. Luckily for me, most events have plenty of fruit and veggie options even when the main course is not vegetarian friendly.
If you have any questions about going vegetarian, or would simply like to know some great meatless recipes, feel free to let me know and I’d be happy to share.

Happy Vegetarian Awareness Month to all of my veggie lovers out there!

 

 

October Reads

A new month calls for a new reading list! At the beginning of the year I made it one of my goals to read at least 30 books. It’s currently October and the year is 3/4 of the way through, yet I have read just 16 books (17 if you count a book I re-read). I didn’t write out a list with specific titles that I planned on reading throughout the year, that way I could choose whatever book I felt like reading when the time came. My mood is always changing – if I had planned to read a work of classic literature, then I would more than likely end up reading something like Gossip Girl. Funny how things don’t always go as planned.

Thus far I have read:

  • Carrie by Stephen King
  • Holiday Princess by Meg Cabot
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  • (Re-read) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
  • You Know You Love Me: A Gossip Girl Novel by Cecily von Ziegesar
  • All I Want is Everything: A Gossip Girl Novel by Cecily von Ziegesar
  • Because I’m Worth it: A Gossip Girl Novel by Cecily von Ziegesar
  • The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
  • Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Rigg
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Currently reading:

  • Cooked by Michael Pollan
  • (Re-reading) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

If you can’t tell by my list, I have been reading a lot of children’s literature and teen fiction this year. I didn’t necessarily intend to read so many children/teen books, but they’ve all been so good! I recently picked up my first Roald Dahl book (Matilda) and instantly fell in love with his style of writing and the way he captures the imagination. I picked up a used copy of both The Witches and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl the other day and I am very much looking forward to reading both of them.

For the month of October, I want to read some novels that are both thrilling and, dare I say, creepy. I’ve tried to balance out my October reading list with a mixture of thrilling tales, classic literature, and spiritually edifying books–we’ll see how far I make it through this list though.

October Reads:

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Misery by Stephen King
  • Hollow City by Ransom Rigg
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge

Considering I finished reading The Catcher in the Rye in less than a week and that I just started reading The Graveyard Book last night, I’d say I’m doing pretty well with my reading list so far. I’m trying to plug through one at a time instead of reading all of them at once (like I usually do). This way, I can devote my full attention to one story and really engage in it.

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I wanted to give a quick review on The Catcher in the Rye. This book has been on my “To-Read” list for years now and I just so happened to pick up a copy of it at Goodwill a couple of months ago. I wanted to read at least one classic this month, so I decided that it was time to give this book a try.

My first impression of the book upon reading the first few pages was that the dialogue was chaotic. The writing style was different than anything I had read before and I was wondering if I was going to have to read on without really enjoying the story. I had heard mixed reviews about this book, but I was determined to read it and like it. By the time I was a few chapters in though, I realized I wouldn’t have to force myself to like this book.

Reading The Catcher in the Rye is like reading an angsty teenager’s journal. I can identify with Holden Caulfield and the teenage angst and depression he feels (not quite on his level though). In fact, reading this book reminded me of my journals from when I was 15-16 years old. That feeling of being trapped in between childhood and adulthood, and being misunderstood by just about everyone in your life. I know that some people think that Holden is a whiny little brat, and he is. However, I fond myself feeling so sorry for him. He’s obviously been through a lot in his young life – losing a brother to cancer, continually being kicked out of school only to be forced into another. No wonder he acts and feels the way he does. Holden is such a complex character and through his dialogue and his thoughts that he shares, it’s easy to see that he’s struggling with depression and just really needs his family to come along side him and help him through this difficult time in his life.

Overall, I thought the book was brilliant. It was complex, had deep meaning and hidden messages throughout. I guess I can see why some people don’t like this book, but I think they need to look deeper and then maybe they would appreciate it a bit more. I was lucky and had a wonderful English professor in college who taught me how to look closely at a story and analyze the characters. I already loved literature, but she gave me a deeper appreciation for it and changed the way I read stories. And I am forever grateful for that.

On a side note, this was my first attempt at writing a book review, so please be kind. I hope that as I continue on my reading journey I can write more reviews and hopefully get better with practice.