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We have been in our home for 3 years now.  When we moved in,  the yard, gardens, and trees were a mess.  A complete jungle.  It just sickened me to find trees actually wrapped around other trees, growing in a thistle-infested chaos.  We have worked really hard each spring and summer to try and bring it back.  We are starting to see some of the fruits (literally) of our labor, and the space is becoming more of  our own.  I loved watching it sprout up and bloom this spring.  Here’s a glimpse:appletree3basket2cherries2


My New Trainers

IMG_1390Hey, everyone! Just wanted to share with you a glimpse into what happens at my house when I try to work-out at home.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Miracles, and I fit in a quick work-out in between soccer pick-ups, dinner, and Dan needing to go back to work.  I came home to finish my work-out, and it only lasted a few minutes when I was joined by my dog Jack and my 4-year-old Ryan.  I had a sit-up partner and a trainer at my side!

Of course, it was cute how close they wanted to be to me, but it made me thankful to have a place to work-out and have some time alone.  For me, it is worth the time and effort to take care of myself (physically, emotionally, mentally).  Self-care sometimes has to be selfish.

At least these trainers didn’t make me do mountain climbers.  : )

P.S.  Jack’s also a big help in the kitchen.


Farmers Market

flowers2May greeted me with the usual end-of-school-year craziness and soccer mania that it usually does, but somehow it caught me off guard.  I haven’t had much time to write.

We have managed to make it to the Sagamore West Farmers Market for the last 3 Wednesdays, and I can say I officially have my garden planted and my kids addicted to the LongHouse Farm kettle corn.  Call me sappy or granola or whatever, but I love seeing the local merchants and the community come together and all the veggies and flowers peeking out.  It’s a happenin’ place!

And a nice break from permission slips, missed doctors appointments, living history costumes (at 10:00 pm), and to-do lists.   basil-tom2market2

IMG_1294We have been blessed lately to get fresh, straight-from-the-hen eggs.

I looove the colors of these eggs.  Seriously, I have a problem.  I “ooh” and “ahh” over them way too much (with my husband rolling his eyes in the background).  And then I crack them open and their bright orange yolks spill out, and the ooh-ing and ahh-ing starts all over again! Don’t even get me started on how good they taste.   They are simple and yet so beautiful.  Even my kids notice the difference in the color and taste.  It motivates me to eat cleaner and “fresher” and makes me look forward to strolling through the farmer’s market.

Are you re-thinking the way you buy food?  Do you have any tips?  I’d love for you to share!


blog books2I vowed I would never read Moby Dick.  Too long and too boring.  Who really wanted to read that many pages about a whale?

Well, fast forward 3rd year of college. I was taking a 6-week summer course in 19th century American literature and guess what was on the syllabus.


Moby Dick.  I had 2 days to read it.  Initially, I tried to read it, but I realized that it was not humanly possible for me to do so.  I bought Cliff Notes for the first time in my life.  Honestly, I didn’t mind because I really didn’t want to read it.  Remember it was a vow!

Then in the last 2 months I have had 2 people that I respect recommend it to me.  Just seemed like too much of a coincidence so I thought I would give it a whirl and picked it up at the library.  It’s still long and it’s still about a whale, but I realize now it’s about so much more.  I’m actually glad that I haven’t picked it up until now.  I don’t think I could have appreciated it at another time like I do now. It’s so rich.   Here are a couple of my favorite lines:

Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded forever.

A noble craft, but somehow a most melancholy! All noble things are touched with that.

While most of my reading time has been spent with Ishmael and Captain Ahab, I also have found time for a few new cookbooks, and I seem to always make time for a design book or two.  I haven’t read Readicide yet, but look forward to brushing up with something in my field.  I haven’t had much time to do that in the last 5 years.

What’s on your nightstand this month?  Or your Kindle/Nook?  What books are you rediscovering?

p.s.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about Moby Dick, too!

Click here to see what was On My Nightstand in February.


You can tell that my four-year-old is the youngest of 5 and has 3 older brothers.  One of his favorite words is teleport.  I think it’s an influence from his brothers,  Star Wars. and who knows what else.  If I come into the room, he’ll say, “Mom, did you teleport?  How did you get here?!”

One day I asked him to count to 10 for me and he started:  “One, two, three, ten.  Three teleported to ten!”  Oh, my his poor teachers! But I have to say, I don’t blame him for being a little obsessed with the concept;  he seems to be rubbing off on me.

One morning I was headed out the door to Miracles and didn’t really have a clue what I was going to do.  No plan what-so-ever.  So I texted my friend and former trainer, Ben Clutter, and told him that I wished he could teleport (it would be cool, you have to admit).

If you are familiar with my blog, you know that he had a tremendous impact on me in the beginning.   He taught me some boxing basics, which added some fun to my workouts, but most importantly he built up my confidence with encouragement and persistence.   He pushed me enough, taught me a lot, and made me laugh constantly.  It was exactly what I needed at the time, and since then I have really missed training with him.  Fortunately, Ben has kept in touch with me and Dan, and I can still get encouragement and workout tips via text.

This time was a little different though.  Ben issued a full-on workout challenge.  Ugh. . . why did I text him again?!  I knew it was what I needed though.  I needed a challenge and some accountability.  So after my cardio, the challenge was on:  mini ab work-out, no rest, no feet on the ground.  I only modified the side planks because of my shoulder and did side crunches instead.

After the first time around, I texted Ben and told him I was finished and that I was pretty sure I muttered “I’m gonna kill him” under my breath.  : )  He then instructed me to do another round or some intense cardio so I did another round with 15 second intervals and was wiped.   I felt good, but wiped.  I did some more cardio, stretched, and headed home.  Another workout down.

So it wasn’t teleporting, but it was close.  I am thankful that I still I have a “coach” that can help me and encourage me.  Even if I do feel like smacking him through the phone sometimes.; )

If you want workouts from Ben, check out MidwestFit.com!


Hey, everyone!  Just checking in.  I’m still in the midst of Operation Ralph Lauren Pants.  I weighed this past Saturday and missed my mini-goal by .8 pounds.   I’ll take that!  No worries!

I still am not eating perfectly clean (I’ll leave that to the hard-core trainers), but I am finding ways to eat better while still trying to work-out 5 times per week.  Here are some things that have been in my diet lately:

*  Farm fresh egg omelets (1 egg/1 egg white, a sprinkle of cheddar, mushrooms, peppers, and onion)

*  Clementines – perfect little grab-and-go snack to replace processed bar/crackers

*  Green tea – an everyday staple for me

*  Lean proteins like chicken, ground turkey, tuna, salmon

*  Smoothies– I love these and so do my kids.  Great way to sneak veggies in!

*  Almonds and dark chocolate (still gotta have chocolate!)

*  Oatmeal

*  Whole wheat pasta

*  Whole wheat flour – I’m trying to use 1/3 wheat flour and 2/3 white flour in my bread/pizza crust recipe.

* Fresh fruit – I try to have fruit on the table for 2 out of 3 meals per day.

*  Salads – This is the hard one for me b/c I can really get sick of lettuce (not another salad!), but it helps when I am creative with toppings.  Adding a little feta or spicy chicken can help.

Of course, this isn’t all I am eating, but adding healthier choices is definitely helping me control my weight.  I know that I need to make a conscious effort to get away from processed foods (and get my kids to as well).  I am not aiming for 100% but just a  nice balance.  I find myself picking up items and looking at the ingredients label a lot more lately and skipping some of the grocery aisles that I know aren’t helpful (or healthy).

Well, I’m off for some green tea!  Let me know some of the changes that are helping you this week!




Operation Ralph Lauren Pants

It’s been awhile since I’ve given you an update.  Mainly it’s because I don’t really want to face you.  How many times can I say, “I’m still exercising but I still love to eat”?  But here’s the turn-red-in-the-face honest truth:  I’m 9 lbs. up from my lowest weight after my “aha” moment, and I just can’t seem to get it off.  I have been up by this amount for about a year, and I can’t decide if this is the way I’m just supposed to be or if I am settling.  Or making excuses.  Hmm. . .maybe something like this:

My body’s just settling at its comfortable weight.

It’s that time of a month (sorry, guys).

I weighed at night.

I just ate a big meal.

I’m not really eating that much between meals.

I’ll just buy those chocolate chips just in case, and I won’t open the bag (cough, cough).

I’m just meant to be a big girl.

I only live once  . . .

It’s a special occasion (again and again).

I could go on and on.  But seriously, do I really want to live with growing love handles?  Do I seriously want to let food control me?  Do I want to go into my forties and not be in the best shape possible?  Of course not!  But dealing with the balance between exercise and food and real life is so hard.  We are surrounded by so many choices and a culture that celebrates food.  If you really look in your pantry,  in your fridge, in your town, on your screen, do we honestly surround ourselves with healthy choices?  Even if we do, the temptation is so great.

For me, it’s a combination.  I can do really well eating lots of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and fiber, but I really want chocolate or I take a 2nd helping of lasagna when I know I probably shouldn’t.  Let me make it clear, I do not want to live my life thinking about eating (or not eating) and counting every calorie.  BUT I do want to be disciplined.  I want to have a goal and a plan.  I want to be healthy.

So where do the Ralph Lauren pants come in (Get to the point already, right?)?  I found a cute pair of Ralph Lauren navy blue pants at a 1/2 off Saturday at Goodwill a few months ago.  They are cute, perfect for spring (sorry again, guys).  And guess what?  They’re a little tight.  Like not-ever-going-to-where-these-in-public snug.  Not so cute.

So I’ve set a long-term goal to lose 11 lbs. by May 9.  I have organized short-term goals as well.  So far, I’m down 2 lbs.  After trying the pants on a couple weeks ago, I realized that I needed to do something, and goal-setting definitely helped me lose weight initially.  So I’m off and running (and struggling with the chocolate chips), but I am hopeful.  I’ve done it before; I can do it again.

And maybe now that I’ve told you, Operation Ralph Lauren Pants just might be Mission Accomplished.

Are you dreading turning 40, 50, or 60?  Watch this short, informative video with Dan Ritchie and Shawna Kaminiski, and I think it will relieve many of your fears.  I love how Shawna gives great information and advice and disproves fitness myths.  Watch for her 3 great tips!




On My Nightstand

As long as I can remember I have LOVED to read. I remember sitting in my mom’s lap as she read The Saggy Baggy Elephant and learning how to read Dick and Jane with Mrs. Hubbs in kindergarten.  As soon as I could put words together on a page, I was hooked.  I couldn’t get enough of Laura Ingalls, Ramona Quimby, Fudge, Black Beauty, or Encyclopedia Brown.  As I got older I found Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Twain on my Granny’s bookshelves.

In high school books took a backseat to activities and friends, but they still were a place where I found solace.   In college my marketing major just wasn’t fitting, and in the stacks of Kent Library at Southeast Missouri State, I realized I was supposed to be an English teacher.  Whitman and Wordsworth spoke to me amid those quiet, dark shelves in a way that Microeconomics couldn’t (oh, the pain!!).

So what does this have to do with fitness and this blog?  Well, I believe that I have to be physically fit, but I also think I have to be intellectually fit, and reading is a big part of that for me.  I assume that many of you reading this feel the same way.  I’ll let you in on a little secret:  fitness is not my passion.  Big shock I don’t live and breath it; I know I have to do it.  Exercise has to be a part of my life.  I realize that if I am going to be able to write this blog, I am going to have to include some things I am passionate about so periodically I will be sharing what is “On My Nightstand.”

Pictured are the books I am currently reading or just finished.  I highly recommend Quiet by Susan Cain.  Her definition and discussion of introverts helped me learn about myself and the culture we live in.  I also loved the new book by Nate Berkus.  It is thoughtful and autobiographical.  Not just design, but how to bring meaning to your home.  I pick up Design Sponge every other month it seems because I love its freshness and hipster-ness. : )   My Bible is an important part of my life and is always on my nightstand.  I heard the staff at our church had been reading The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis so I will be taking my time through it to process and let things sink in a bit.  Other books, I just grab for fun and hope I have a minute between kids, laundry, meals, and pick-ups to savor a word or two or gaze upon a few beautiful rooms or views.   Just having these books waiting on my nightstand gives me comfort.  Yes, once a bookworm, always a bookworm (a much easier area to stay fit in for me!).

I know I have some avid readers that follow this blog, and I would love to hear from you.  What are you reading?   Have you read any of the books on my list?  What did you think?


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