Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I love leftovers! :) Is that weird? I always think to myself when people say they hate leftovers that they must not be making very good food! It's so nice for your stomach and your wallet when you make something that you actually want to eat it all week! This past week we made our own delicious version of Olive Garden's Zuppa Tuscana potato soup. It has lots of potatoes, Italian sausage, bacon, and spinach, is perfectly spicy, and so good when served with biscuits and salad! Needless to say, we definitely couldn't wait to eat our leftovers! :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Running Update

I'm running almost daily now and I must say I'm addicted! The excitement I feel as I mentally prepare myself for hours before I run, the doubt in my mind when my feet first hit the ground, and then the pride and disbelief I feel when I reach my "finish line" is incredible! There really isn't anything like the high you feel after you've pushed your hardest and once again achieved what you thought was impossible! I'm still a beginner though and have a long way to go before I will think of myself as "a runner".

So far my best distance is 2.15 miles in about 26 minutes, which I'm pretty excited about! Back when I couldn't even run a full mile yet I thought it would take me months to be able to run 2 miles! And best of all I didn't feel like I was dying afterwards, which means I know I can do better!

Although the place Mike and I go to run is very hilly, I do love that it is in a very natural setting. Smelling flowers and hearing birds while you run is wonderful! And just yesterday a baby deer darted out of the woods and came up beside me and ran with me! It was so close I could have touched it! After it realized I was a person and not it's mother it ran back into the woods and I stopped running just long enough to snap a picture of it's white backside sticking out of the trees. :)

The weather has been cold the last couple days, so I'm hoping it warms up so I can try to beat my best distance. It's very hard to run very long when you can't feel your legs! I'll keep you updated!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Grocery Shopping and a Healthy Recipe

Since we were not home during our very busy week (blog post about it coming soon!), most of the produce we bought last time we went grocery shopping went bad and we had to clean out our fridge. We hate wasting money on unused food, so when we made a quick trip to the store tonight we decided to buy only what we need for a few days and what we can take with us to my sister's house since this week will probably see us running around again.

  While we stood in line with our purchases I looked down at our cart and the sight made me very proud! It was filled with a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grain bread and tortillas, yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, and other healthy foods. When we made the decision to eat healthier last year, I had concerns about whether we would be able to actually do it or not. After all, I have never been a big fan of fruits or veggies and Mike wasn't sure he wanted a vegetarian heavy diet, but looking into our cart tonight made me realize that we can eat healthy and I'm so happy we actually do now! All of our breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and even snacks are healthy! We drink lots of water, I've found all kinds of delicious vegetables and fruits to eat, and Mike has embraced our mostly vegetarian diet (in fact, tonight the only meat we bought was ground turkey, which is much healthier than all of the ground beef we used to eat!). And best of all we are happy and we eat well! Very well in my opinion :)

Here is a recipe for one of our favorite meals (and what we ate for dinner tonight!):

Veggie Tacos with Roasted Red Potatoes

  • Whole Grain Tortillas
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Sour Cream
  • Cheese
  • 5 Small Red Potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Parsley
  • Garlic Powder
  • Chilli Powder
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Salt & Pepper
    First you will want to preheat the oven to 400 degrees for the roasted potatoes. Wash them, cut them into bite size pieces, coat them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of garlic powder, and then bake them for around 45 minutes. While those are cooking you can chop the bell pepper and onion. Then you can either roast them in the oven until they just start to brown or sauté them in a bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes like we do. The black beans (or any kind of bean you like!) can be heated up on the stove with a few dashes of chilli powder, garlic powder, paprika, and cumin added to them for flavor. When everything is about ready, put your tortillas in the oven with the potatoes for a few minutes to crisp up and then start assembling your taco. We like sour cream, cheese, and salsa on ours and adding some fresh avocado and cilantro on top makes the tacos taste even more amazing! Of course you can make these your own by adding your favorite veggies. I bet zucchini, squash, and rice with some Feta cheese on top would be great in them instead of pepper and onions! The most important thing for us is that they are fresh, healthy and vegetarian. :)


    Friday, April 13, 2012

    Busy, Busy Week

    Just a short post to let you all know that I haven't forgotten about my blog! This week has been crazy and full of excitement and stress, which I will tell you all about soon, but for now I will just leave you with a picture of Mike and a little friend we made at the zoo! :)


    Friday, April 6, 2012

    Maybe Dreams Really Do Come True?

    As you may or may not know (depending on who is reading this), I will be going back to school this August to finally get my bachelors degree. I've been out of school for a while and am a bit nervous about going back, but also very excited. At the age of nine or ten I began watching Steve and Terri Irwin's television shows and documentaries and I was instantly bitten by the wildlife conservation bug. I couldn't get enough of learning about or being around animals. I still can't. The only really consistent part of my life has been my passion for animals and conservation and I've always wanted to go to school to become a wildlife conservationist. Unfortunately, as usually is the case with childhood dreams, my life took a different route and it didn't look like it was in the cards for me. I was disappointed, but looking back on it I believe it actually worked out for the better because in the mean time I've also developed a passion for environmentalism which pairs perfectly with conservation. I had almost given up on the idea of going back to school, but thankfully things in our life have changed a bit and earlier this year we made the decision for me to finally get my degree. I wasn't sure I was capable of getting a science degree and had several ideas of what I could do instead, but Mike convinced me that nothing was worth going to school for if it wasn't what I really wanted to do. And he was right. I just couldn't be happy knowing I let the opportunity to achieve my dream get away. So I applied, waited an agonizing couple weeks for the "congratulations! you've been accepted" letter, and then finally got to meet with an advisor to sign up for classes. That was a bit of a pain at first (since my associates degree is in English and not Biology there are some required classes I have to take first and a math class I had to test into), but thankfully it is straightened out now and I'm all registered for the fall semester! I will be majoring in Organismal Biology and Public Outreach and minoring in Environmental Studies. I'm so excited about the classes I get to take (animal physiology, ecology, climate change, etc.) and can't wait to start the semester and be even closer to graduating and finally achieving my childhood dream of being a wildlife conservationist! After that I can start making my other childhood dream come true--moving to Australia! lol I'll keep you updated on how things are progressing! :)


    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    To Run or Not to Run?

    The goals I laid out for myself when I decided to get in shape and make fitness a priority in my life were pretty simple: build muscle, become more toned, and, most of all, be healthier. I've really enjoyed discovering all of the challenges and some immediate benefits of exercise over the last few weeks. The biggest benefits being how much better I feel about myself and the more energy I have. It constantly surprises me how excited I get at the idea of getting to exercise everyday. I am genuinely enjoying it!

    The thing I'm most excited about though is running. Mike has been running on and off since high school and I've watched him do it, but I've always been kind of scared of the idea for two reasons: 1. It seemed totally impossible for someone like me to run and 2. I had heard that running was really bad for women. The scariest part being that running could make your uterus fall out! Yikes. Despite those scary possibilities, I had also heard that running was very bad for your knees and joints and could lead to all kinds of health problems. With that in the back of my mind, I took that off the list of possible workouts for me. But then last week Mike started going out and running again. I sat on a bench and watched him run into the distance as I had before and suddenly, with my new found energy and enthusiasm for fitness, I found myself feeling jealous. It looked so satisfying! More so than just lifting weights or taking walks. So, I tried it one day. I only went about 1/4 of a mile or so, but it felt so good! I started thinking about it more seriously during the last week and finally decided to sit down and do some research. Surely it couldn't be that bad for me, could it?

    I was very excited to learn that it wouldn't be that bad for me! In fact, running (if done properly and on a regular basis) can actually be better for you than any other form of exercise and is linked to all kinds of health benefits! Women's Health Magazine has a short list on their website to give you just a taste of some of the good things running can do for you. One study, done by the Medical College of Wisconsin, found that running burns more calories than other workouts. Not only that, but running also makes your heart stronger by forcing it to pump more blood, faster. It also strengthens the muscles and ligaments around your joints, which protects them and helps them bring in more nutrients. Other studies have found that runners also have a lower risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and a better immune system. And to top it all off, it can help you live longer than other healthy adults!

    So, basically, all of those myths I had heard about running being bad for you were just that--myths. But what about the horrifying tale of your uterus falling out you ask? That was just plain bullshit left over from the Victorian era when women's lady parts were considered to "fragile" for such strenuous activity.

    Now that we have that cleared up, I can't wait to start my beginners running routine and challenge myself in a new way! And I plan on tracking and updating my progress on my blog, so keep reading! :)


    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Stormy Weather

    It was raining out earlier and Mike and I sat in the car and watched the storm roll in over the river. We talked about life and worried about things that haven't even happened yet. Sometimes our life constantly feels stormy and I hate it. Worst of all I hate feeling helpless about things out of my control. But just when I feel like giving in to pessimistic thoughts, something happens to makes me realize I'm over reacting and I force myself to look on the bright side again. This time is was a weird dream where I was riding on a crazy train with Terri Irwin to a magical land that everyone told me I could never reach (how did this help me see the silver lining you ask? You had to be there.) The point is that it is important to remember that worrying about things you have no control over is wasted energy and sometimes it's best to just sit back on the crazy train of life, ignore the storms, and keep your eye on the prize. Or something like that.


    Sunday, April 1, 2012

    Challenging Myself

    Mike and I have been working out for a while with weights and a Jillian Michaels video (Alexa's suggestion!) and we've been doing great. At first it was really hard because we are both pretty out of shape, but after sticking with it for a while it suddenly got easier and we have so much more energy (after the first day we had zero energy and had to take a break for several days because we were so sore lol).

    As I mentioned before, we take long walks everyday as well. The walks are nice, but not very challenging. That's why I went out today and decided I was going to challenge myself. I'm not really at the point where I could start running or jogging, so I speed walked. Pretty fast actually. I was walking as fast and hard as I could without actually jogging lol. I went for two miles (listening to some fast paced Tom Petty songs really helped me keep my speed up and made it more fun) and pushed myself harder than I probably ever have before! I was very out of breath and sweaty when I got back home, but I felt great! :) I'm very proud of myself and can't wait to challenge myself tomorrow and see how far I can push myself!

    (The picture is from right after my workout. Can't you tell I felt great? :p)