Letter to ExerciseTV

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dear ExerciseTV,

Please don't go!

I went to your site yesterday and saw this:

I am in complete denial that this is true, so please tell me that I am seeing things. Is there a petition I can sign or something? This is the biggest travesty to the fitness community that I could ever imagine. Such a shame.

Yours truly,
Avid ExerciseTV user

P.S. to my readers, you can buy a few of their workouts for download for only $1.00. It's like the Dollar Store of workout videos, only the quality of the product is much more savory. Best buck ever spent. And I'm really excited to do this workout tonight. At least there are still some free workout videos out there. If you know of any others out there, please let me know.

Boun-sing Back!

Monday, November 28, 2011

I had a short little hiatus here from work and blogging, but I'm so glad to be back. Just a few weeks more and I'll be taking another one for Christmas. I have encountered a surge of ideas this Monday morning after my little "refresher," which makes every bit of the break sooooo worth it!

This past week I have enjoyed:

1. Making a new Christmas wreath and matching garland (ideas and images coming soon).
2. Thrift shopping for longer than is considered reasonable.
3. Beginning a new exciting project involving old hard covered books, picked up at said thrift store.
4. Staying at a friend's parent's house while my husband hunted deer. After finding three deer, our chest freezer is now fully stocked.
5. Making new friends, adult and tot-sized.
6. Feeling genuinely thankful for our home and family, Thanksgiving or not.
7. Putting lots of thought into Christmas gifts, and checking a few names off.
8. Planning Christmas decorations and traditions (daily readings with hot cocoa, Christmas movies, cutting a tree, etc).
9. Working out extra hard and coming out on the other side of the holiday 1lb lighter.
10. Going to a neat indie craft fair and soaking up the art inspiration and holiday excitement.

How was your week?

Make the World Lovely

Friday, November 18, 2011

I believe in dining room tablecloths
I believe in hair bows and nice socks
I believe in pretty ribbons wrapped around keys on the pegboard
I believe in a feather tucked behind the ear
I believe in doodled love notes tucked inside pockets
I believe in a sparkly swipe of eyeshadow on date night
I believe in caving to that urge to jump in a puddle
I believe in tucking pretty rocks in with the books on the shelf
I believe in tucking extra treats into gift wrapping
I believe in holding hands while watching TV
I believe in spoiling a tiny boy with “campouts” every weekend because we love it too
I believe in one cupcake at midnight
I believe in dancing while you sweep
I believe in coloring inside the letters in work meetings
I believe in keeping an extra picnic blanket in the car
I believe in anything that can make life just a little prettier.

It’s not about materialism or whittling away time on meaningless things, it’s about finding and adding beauty a little here and a little there.

From A Recovering Couch Potato

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I was just thinking the other day about how being the Valedictorian--or even the Salutatorian--was as close as one gym class away for me. I hated gym class. Like so many others, I have stories about wheezing through the one-mile run, being picked last for every sport despite real skill in some, and dreading the mandatory swimming semester. OMG, I have to wear my swimming suit in front of those mean kids?

But as I thought about it, I realized gym class was the very reason that I didn't quite make it to the head of my class. I did graduate #7 out of a class of 366, but #1-4 were the valedictorians and #5-6 were the salutatorians. Yep, I was that close. And gym class (and one *ahem* B in science) was the reason. To guarantee an A for the semester, we had to swim 10 full laps. It took me almost the entire class period, but you can sure as heck bet I eked out those 10 laps. I was retching and dying, but I did it. And somehow I ended up with a B anyway. It was one of those instances where I kick myself for not confronting the teacher about it. But alas, I took my B with my tail between my legs.

Funny thing is, now you would never guess I was that girl. Gym class can "bite me" now. I run at least three days a week, usually around 3 miles each. That one-miler has nothing on my now! I've completed a handful of 5ks and a Half Marathon. Take that mean gym teachers! I get a huge thrill from exercise, I have a huge crush on workout videos, I have a "gym" membership, I inhale every exercise magazine I can lay my hands on, and I secretly sometimes think about being a gym instructor. Take that, gym class!

It's ironic how your body can turn around and do the complete opposite of what you ever thought it could do and that your reason for non-valedictorian-ism is now coughing up the dust you left in your running path.

A Magical 3-Mile Run

Monday, November 14, 2011

I have been dreaming again about the most amazing run I had over the summer as the weather is getting colder. The in-laws were up from Florida for a visit, and they took our family to the Milwaukee Zoo. We stayed overnight nearby so my MIL could spend some time with her closest friend that lives close by. I, of course, packed my runnin' shoes.

Just across the street from the motel was the mouth of a nature path. Around dusk, I laced up and left my two boys to unwind in the room with strict instructions that if I didn't return in 45 minutes to send a search party. I didn't feel like running. True confession: most of the time I don't feel like running. But I know exactly how I'll feel if I do run, so I always do anyway.

The air was perfect for a run. The visual relief of nature was delightful. The departure from the norm was fantastic. Just running in a new place has a way of reviving the spirit of fitness inside me. But it got soooo much better.

I rounded a bend about halfway through my run when I heard some rustling that made my hair stand up. I saw something moving in the brush. Then, a brown neck popped up and I realized I was within feet of a beautiful doe. Right then, I noticed the second one. Those huge eyes, those beautiful bodies standing dead-still waiting to determine if I was a threat. I just smiled at them knowingly as I padded by, trying to send signals with my eyes that I would never hurt them.

Not too far up the path, I reached my halfway point and turned around. Those pretty girls were still there. Those city gals let me get pretty close, so I could snap a shot with my phone as proof. Then, I left them alone again and carried on. Near the end of the run, I saw another flash in the brush. Thinking I'd spied the eyes of a rodent or other little animal, I ran a little faster. But I noticed another flash and another and another until I realized I was completely surrounded by lightning bugs. It was so magical, almost mystical.

I had not seen lightning bugs since I was a kid on a family camping trip. I rode my bike through a small patch of trees and there was a tiny swarm of them. That was another magical moment from another time. I went a little slower for the rest of the run, taking it all in. In fact, I even ran back through one stretch, just so I could run through it again. It was amazing!

Back at the motel, I insisted that the boys retrieve their shoes and follow me back down the path. I got to experience my son's first encounter with lightning bugs and it was so surreal and beautiful.

Nothing beats a run like that.

Fall Reading List

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Books I'm Reading

This is what's on my book list lately. Yep, I'm reading them all at the same time.
I pick up wherever I left off in the tome that matches my mood that day. It's a terrible habit that I have of starting too many books at one time. I'll put books on hold at the library at the same time that an Amazon order arrives at the doorstep and the Bible study starts a new book. Aye!

Thankfully fall is a great time to refresh the bookcases, because there's plenty of dark time to enjoy a few hours of reading.

1. Handmade Marketplace: I've been toying with the idea for awhile of starting an Etsy store. This book is great for goal-setting and branding a craft store.

2. Cannery Row: A friend lent this Steinbeck classic to me. It's great because the chapters are short and they jump around. So, I can pick up where I left off easily. Steinbeck's descriptions are expert!!!

3. God Girl: This is actually meant for the younger lady, but I love it anyway. It's so soft and sweet and makes God feel like your best friend. It's fresh not to be so serious and in-depth once in awhile.

4. Desiring God: I've mentioned this one before. Apparently, it's a Christian classic that's regaining ground again. I love love love the idea of finding or re-living pure joy in God.

5. Power Thoughts: This is the Christian response to the Law of Attraction movement that's shaking the ground right now. It puts thoughts into a Christian perspective. Yes, you can use your thoughts for great things, but you can't "think into being" your favorite house or a million dollars. So helpful for not getting caught up in all those materialistic concepts.

I almost added more to this stack, but I had to stop somewhere. Inevitably, a few will go half-read once the library demands their books back. A book like Desiring God cannot be inhaled in one night. It's meant to be savored and re-visited for a quite some time. Thankfully, some are short enough to be completely read within a few more days. Happy Reading!

De-cluttering Old Schoolwork

Monday, November 7, 2011

I went in the attic to locate a buried research paper example for my husband. He has to write a 10 to 12-pager by the end of the semester and doesn't even know what one looks like. Well, being an English major, I had 10 to 15-pagers aplenty. So I went on a search to find one that I could easily explain to him. A paper deconstructing literature would've been much too difficult to break down for him.

I found the paper I was looking for quite easily and then I tried to pry something...anything...out of the box and into the garbage. After all, I know I will never return to those notes or those posters or any of it really. I paged through one notebook and thought about it in the garbage and immediately returned it to the box. I just.can't.do.it. Short of someone coming in with a pry bar, I cannot let these papers go. The time invested. The real raw blood, sweat and tears. Those four whole gruelling years of full-time school and full-time work to put myself through college. It feels like trying to amputate my own limb.

I marveled at the way I could write. I mean, I know I can write, but sometimes I forget exactly how keen my intellect can be amidst piles of research and analysis. I'll admit, looking through the papers calms my inferiority complex a bit. Especially coming across all the letters and stickers I got for being on the Dean's list almost every semester. I don't mean to boast, because most of the time I'm pretty hard on myself, but sometimes those gentle reminders of our talents and abilities really do give us a boost.

Then, I think about my kids coming across my old papers one day. I came across old papers from my mom's elementary school days and I was completely enamored. Seeing her handwriting and her grades and imagining her in cute red polyester jumpsuits sitting at her Catholic school desk was just too sweet to miss. I wondered if somehow I time-traveled and ended up in her same class, if we would instantly be best friends. Wanting to immerse myself in that sentiment, I even swiped one of her rad retro leftover folders.

Being the writer that I am, the back page of every one of my notebook was littered with my word graffiti. Story ideas were born there. Poems originated in the margins. My favorite words were recorded there. The beauty of being a harried student and full-time worker is that the best ideas are born out of the overwhelming chaos. My muse materializes during bouts of over-scheduling and information overload. I built a lot of my best work off of those scribbled-up "back pages."

A friend and I just had a conversation about decluttering old school papers. She just did it with a shrug of the shoulder and her head turned the other way. I told her that I really tried to channel her in my own purge attempt, but it totally failed. I'm convinced that pieces of my identity are tucked inside the folds in there. It's only one box anyway. It's not like Hoarders territory or anything. I'll think I'll keep them just a little longer.

Is there anything that you still cling to? Your favorite dolly from childhood (oops, I'm guilty of this one too), your collection of Tonka trucks or pen pal letters?

Peanut Picnics #6

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our sixth picnic ended faster than it started. But hey, at least we got to eat before we left.


Those boys no longer cooperate with the camera either. Ha! Nice milk mustache, man.


This was probably one of the most random outings we've had yet. There was a squirrel checking us out.

The boys insisted I take a picture of a floating bottle.

But the water always brings an extra sense of wonder to those playful pups. And the weather was unseasonably warm for an October day in Wisconsin.

See the watch on his arm? I guess this could be considered foreshadowing to what happened, but that is actually a "potty timer." Thanks Pull-Ups!

The boys did get to play for a few minutes though.


We got to play for about 5 minutes. Momma included. They put me on one of those spinny playground chairs. But my feet couldn't even reach the ground. And those things are engineered to keep spinning to infinity. I had to cry out between fits of laughter for them to stop me.

That's when I noticed the wet spot down the legs of the boy who insisted on wearing real underwear to the park. And that was the short end of that. Thank goodness I had an extra Pull-Up in the car.

DIY Baby Milestone Book

Saturday, November 5, 2011



Two of my dearest friends recently brought brand new additions into their homes. For their baby showers, I designed two little books for each of them. One was a baby milestone book and the other was a letter-a-year book. I think it's much too difficult to keep up with baby milestones in a big scrapbook or other complicated way, especially with the culture shock that a new baby adds to daily life. To make it easy for them, I made one page for each month, printed with journal lines for a quick jot. Even the most harried mommies amongst us can handle that, right? That is, if we remember...


The back of the book had a few pages to reminisce about other things, such as "Our Favorite Lullabies" and "Our Family Tree." I also included a little envelope for the first lock of hair.




The second book was designed with one pocket for each of the child's birthdays through age 18. And each pocket was furnished with one sheet of writing paper. The idea is to write a quick note to your child on each birthday about what the past year meant to you and to let your heart out. Then, when they're old enough to appreciate it, you can share the stack of letters with them. I do this every year for my son, and I thought I would share this wonderful tradition with my good friends and blog readers.


For each, I bought a stack of baby-themed cardstock from Hobby Lobby. I punched a hole in the corner of each sheet and strung them through a binder clip. The stamped words throughout were made from a small set of letter stampers. I embellished the pages with a few baby-themed stickers and other ephemera, but I wanted to keep it fairly simple. I just can't wait to see what the ladies do with them!

DIY Envelope System

Friday, November 4, 2011

I needed an envelope system for the cash I regularly carry in my purse that was:
  • Not bulky--a girl's purse is already a shoulder breaker
  • Organized--trying to keep all the money straight isn't easy for a girl on a budget
  • Cute--has to fit the whole aesthetic of the purse, wallet, etc.
  • Easy to grab and go
I was concerned that the prevalent cloth versions on Etsy would get bulky and beat up in a purse. I was thinking, what could I use that has multiple pockets, doesn't bend and is super-slim? Ah-ha, a pocket picture album! Dollar bills fit in 4x6 album pages perfectly. Keeping in line with said budget, the project is also super low-cost. Even a few friends have even adopted this great idea.

Supplies: heavy-duty scissors, contact paper/adhesive drawer liner, a 4x6 picture album, embellishments, 1 standard sheet of 12x12 scrapbook paper cut into six 4x6 sheets.


1. Cut a piece of contact paper slightly smaller than the width/height of the album cover. Fold it in half about three times.

2. Cut the contact paper like those snowflakes you made as a child. You will need the heavy-duty scissors to cut through those thick layers.


3. Apply the resulting paper design to the cover. If you've found a vintage photo album that already has a beautiful cover, feel free to skip these first three steps!


4. Insert the scrapbook paper into six pages of the album. Feel free to use more if you need to.


5. I used some leftover scraps of contact paper and a felt-tip marker to label each envelope: EAT, DUDS, POST, ENTERTAIN, SUNDAY, and SPEND. Be sure to label the outside of the picture sleeve or your greenbacks will cover up the label and you'll waste time trying to figure out which pocket is which.

6. Embellish as desired. I didn't want to add any sort of money symbols to the front cover so I could keep the wallet more "covert." I didn't want to make it very inviting for sticky fingers.

This project is a great way to prepare for all those upcoming New Years' Resolutions or to keep tabs on your Christmas budget. I've heard it said (from financial professionals) that the envelope system is one of the best methods for keeping a budget, so I'm sticking to it. When the "out to eat" money is gone, it's gone. But hey, I feel so excited that we even have an "out to eat" category in our budget now.

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