Wednesday, November 28, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: Iced Pomegranate Green Tea

Day 28:
Today I am thankful that my idea of making iced pomegranate green tea actually worked...

I love love love hot tea, and don't often enjoy iced tea unless it's flavored, like the pomegranate green I happened to have at my desk. 

I brewed 2 bags so it was double strength, then filled my cup to the top with ice and poured in the tea. The ice melts almost instantly, which cools the tea and waters it down (hence the double strength).

I'm not sure why I was afraid it wouldn't work, but it did and it was the perfect afternoon refresher!

What's your tea preference--hot or iced? What's your favorite flavor?

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Monday, November 26, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: A Reminder

Day 26:
I am thankful for having spend 3 days with my family celebrating Thanksgiving, which included this awesome spread:

I'm still full!

I'm also very, very thankful for old friends. I was able to spend time with people I haven't seen in years, and I am probably most grateful for those few hours.

On top of that, I am incredibly thankful for old friends that I haven't seen or spoken to in even longer than the ones I saw this weekend. I started going through some old e-mails, just doing some general housekeeping and came across one in particular that I'd like to share. It was sent to me by a friend who wrote letters (yes, actual pen and paper letters) and emails back and forth throughout my time in college. He always knew what to say and when to say it.

This email came at a particularly rough time when I was feeling particularly down. Rereading it today was refreshing and inspiring, so I wanted to send it along to all of you as well. It's a poem called "The Awakening" by Sonny Carroll. It's long, but so worth the read. Here you go:

There comes a time in your life when you finally get it... When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out- ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes you begin to look at the world from a new prospective. This is your awakening.
You realize that it is time to stop hoping and waiting for something, or someone, to change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that there aren’t always fairytale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you. Then a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.
So you begin making your way through the “reality of today” rather than holding out for the “promise of tomorrow.” You realize that much of who you are, and the way you navigate through life is, in great part, a result of all the social conditioning you’ve received over the course of a lifetime. And you begin to sift through all the nonsense you were taught about:
how you should look and how much you should weigh
what you should wear and where you should shop
where you should live or what type of car your should drive
who you should sleep with and how you should behave
who you should marry and why you should stay
the importance of bearing children or what you owe your family
Slowly you begin to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really believe in. And you begin to discard the doctrines you have outgrown, or should never have practiced to begin with.
You accept the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are... and that’s OK... they are entitled to their own views and opinions. And, you come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a “perfect 10”.... Or a perfect human being for that matter... and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head or agonizing over how you compare. And, you make peace with the woman in the mirror and you learn to give her the same unconditional love and support you give so freely to others. Then a sense of confidence is born of self-approval.
And, you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” hungry for your next fix, a new dress, another pair of shoes or looks of approval and admiration from family, friends or even strangers who pass by. Then you discover that “it is truly in giving that we receive”... and that the joy and abundance you seek grows out of the giving. And you recognize the importance of “creating” & “contributing” rather than “obtaining” & “accumulating.”
And you give thanks for the simple things you’ve been blessed with, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, the freedom of choice and the opportunity to pursue your own dreams.
And you begin to love and to care for yourself. You stop engaging in self-destructive behaviors including participating in dysfunctional relationships. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and exercising. And because you’ve learned that fatigue drains the spirit and creates doubt and fear you give yourself permission to rest. And just as food is fuel for the body, laughter is fuel for the spirit and so you make it a point to create time for play.
Then you learn about love and relationships, how to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to walk away. And you allow only the hands of a lover who truly loves and respects you to glorify you with his touch. You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say, intentionally or unintentionally and that not everyone will always come through and interestingly enough, it’s not always about you. So, you stop lashing out and pointing fingers or looking to place blame for the things that were done to you or weren’t done for you. And you learn to keep your Ego in check and to acknowledge and redirect the destructive emotions it spawns; anger, jealousy and resentment.
You learn how to say I was wrong and to forgive people for their own human frailties. You learn to build bridges instead of walls and about the healing power of love as it is expressed through a kind word, a warm smile or a friendly gesture. And, at the same time, you eliminate any relationships that are hurtful or fail to uplift and edify you. You stop working so hard at smoothing things over and setting your needs aside. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK and that it is your right to want or expect certain things. And you learn the importance of communicating your needs with confidence and grace. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that eventually martyrs are burned at the stake. Then you learn to distinguish between guilt, and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to Say NO. You learn that you don’t know all the answers, it’s not your job to save the world and that sometimes you just need to Let Go.
Moreover, you learn to look at people as they really are and not as you want them to be and you are careful not to project your neediness or insecurities onto a relationship. You learn that you will not be, more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the man on your arm or the child that bears your name. You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love and relationships and that that not everyone can always love you the way you would want them to. And you stop appraising your worth by the measure of love you are given. And suddenly you realize that it’s wrong to demand that someone live their life or sacrifice their dreams just to serve your needs, ease your insecurities, or meet “your” standards and expectations. You learn that the only love worth giving and receiving is the love that is given freely without conditions or limitations. And you learn what it means to love. So you stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn that “alone” does not mean “lonely” and you begin to discover the joy of spending time “with yourself” and “on yourself.” Then you discover the greatest and most fulfilling love you will ever know. Self Love. And so, it comes to pass that through understanding your heart heals; and now all new things are possible.
Moving along, you begin to avoid Toxic people and conversations. And you stop wasting time and energy rehashing your situation with family and friends. You learn that talk doesn’t change things and that unrequited wishes can only serve to keep you trapped in the past. So you stop lamenting over what could or should have been and you make a decision to leave the past behind. Then you begin to invest your time and energy to affect positive change. You take a personal inventory of all your strengths and weaknesses and the areas you need to improve in order to move ahead, you set your goals and map out a plan of action to see things through.
You learn that life isn’t always fair and you don’t always get what you think you deserve and you stop personalizing every loss or disappointment. You learn to accept that sometimes bad things happen to good people and that these things are not an act of God... but merely a random act of fate.
And you stop looking for guarantees because you’ve learned that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected and that whatever happens, you’ll learn to deal with it. And you learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time FEAR itself. So you learn to step right into and through your fears because to give into fear is to give away the right to live life on your terms. You learn that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophesy and you learn to go after what you want and not to squander your life living under a cloud of indecision or feelings of impending doom.
Then, you learn about money... the personal power and independence it brings and the options it creates. And you recognize the necessity to create your own personal wealth. Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never ever settle for less than your heart’s desire. And a sense of power is born of self-reliance. And you live with honor and integrity because you know that these principles are not the outdated ideals of a by-gone era but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build your life. And you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting and to stay open to every wonderful opportunity and exciting possibility. Then you hang a wind chime outside your window to remind yourself what beauty there is in Simplicity.
Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side you take a stand, you FAKE a deep breath and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.
A word about the Power of Prayer: In some of my darkest, most painful and frightening hours, I have prayed not for the answers to my prayers or for material things but for my “God” to help me find the strength, confidence and courage to persevere; to face each day and to do what I must do.
Remember this: “You are an expression of the almighty. The spirit of God resides within you and moves through you. Open your heart, speak to that spirit and it will heal and empower you.”
My “God” has never failed me.

Did you  make it? What do you think? Rereading this today came at the perfect time.
Have you ever had something come back from the past at just the right time to make you feel better?

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Today I am truly thankful for the gathering of family around an amazing meal.

I hope you and yours have a fabulous day!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

30 Days of Thankful Catchup

What I'm most thankful for today is that 24 hours from now, I will be home with my family with a 4 day weekend in front of me :)

This past week has been crazy (as you can probably tell from my lack of posting).

Some of the things I've been thankful for this week are:

1. Friends reruns on Nick at Nite

For some reason, my DVR cleared out all of my scheduled recordings, so I missed an entire week's worth of new stuff (boo-hoo, right? Man, I'm spoiled...). Luckily, I had a bunch (we're talking 80+!) of episodes of Friends recorded and saved to keep me entertained. I so miss this show!

2. Cooler weather. I can finally wear sweaters and layers and boots without roasting after stepping out side for 3 seconds.  The weather has been amazing. Zero clouds and sunshine. And it seems as though the gorgeous weather is here for at least a few more days. Here's what says to expect for my time in San Antonio:

OK, well Friday doesn't look so great, but oh well. I'll either still be in a food coma or will be inside shopping & snatching up all those great Black Friday deals!

3. Multiple cooking endeavors in the last week that have not turned into disasters, and have actually turned out quite yummy! Of course, I forgot to take pictures to prove it. I guess that just means I'll have to make them again :)

4. I have gotten a decent jump start on my Christmas shopping and actually have ideas for everyone on my list.

**Side story!**
While I was knocking out part of my shopping list over the weekend, I found these:

I told you in this post how much I adore owls, and these are just fantastic! They look like they'll hold a large amount just the right amount of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. And the handle? Oh, the handle is the perfect size! I want one so bad! You can find them here, and they're on sale right now! I'm thinking I need a red white silver any color one! (*ahem* hint hint...)

5. I am thankful for dog groomers. My poor baby was looking like a ragamuffin! 
You can't tell so much from these pictures, but she was super shaggy! I took her to the groomer this morning and she came back looking like this:

She is so shiny and so so so soft! She feels like velvet. Plus she looks like she lost 15 lbs. Don't you wish a haircut could do that for humans?

What have you been thankful for this past week?
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: Endomondo

Day 13:
Today I am thankful for handy dandy smart phone apps. You can literally download an app for just about anything you could ever imagine--and then some.

One app in particular that I'm thankful for is Endomondo. It's an app that tracks your workouts, and it's kind of amazing.

Once you download the app, you can log in through various social media outlets or just create an Endomondo-specific account. To start tracking your workouts, simply open the app, select the "sport" you are doing and press the play button. That's it! Endomondo starts tracking your workout.

On Android, you can change the DURATION, DISTANCE and SPEED fields to things like Pace, Average. Speed, Calories, Heart Rate, Goal, etc. I'm sure you can do the same on iPhones, but don't quote me ;)

If you log in through Facebook, the app will automatically upload all of your workouts to your timeline. It will also search all of your friends and see who else you know that may be using it. You can add friends to your Endomondo and see their workouts, what challenges they're participating in and even cheer them on (they can cheer you on too!).

You can go to their website, where all of your workouts are stored. You can see your progress, track how well you're sticking with your plan or your goals and view comments and peptalks people have left for you.

When you click on a workout, it will show your route as well as graphs with various information.

(Notice the gap? I'm just starting my workouts again and wasn't in the habit of starting the app when we started the walk...oops!)

Overall, I really like this app. I'm sure I've barely scratched the surface of what all it can do, but I like what I do know how to do.

Feel like giving it a try? Click for Android or iPhone.

***Note: These are my opinions and mine only, and they were not requested nor been influenced by anyone other than me :)

What apps are you thankful for?

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Monday, November 12, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: Champagne & Chocolate

Day 12:

Today I am thankful for bubbly and chocolate. Chocolate truffles to be exact.

I bought these for today specifically. Remember how I told you the last few months have been crazy and full of changes? Well today was a BIG change, which had the potential to leave me in a cheerful, celebratory mood or in a weepy ball under the covers wanting nothing but sleep.

As I told my best friend when I bought these, if I feel like celebrating, what more could I ask for than bubbly and chocolate? And if I feel not so great, bubbly and chocolate make everything just a little bit better :)

Please don't judge me for drinking bubbly from a wine glass! I don't drink it enough to warrant the purchase. Or do you think everyone should have champagne flutes?

I'd never tried either of these before, but I must say both are absolutely delicious! I would (on my own accord and not at the suggestion or request of anyone else) recommend either. You can buy Cupcake brand wine almost anywhere. Same with the Lindt truffles.

So, how am I feeling? I haven't quite decided. More reflective than anything else, I think. 

What do you want when you celebrate? What about when you just have one of those days and want some kind of comfort?

Want to buy those truffles online?

***Update 11/18/2012: I was doing some Christmas shopping at World Market and discovered they had champagne flutes for $1.99, so I gave in and bought a pair :) I can't find individual glasses online, but you can get various sets here
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: Thank You Veterans!

Day 11:

Today I am thankful for all of our veterans. Everyone that has and is currently serving in our military gets my deep and heartfelt thanks.

The military is something that has surrounded my entire life (well, as much as it could without either of my parents or myself being in the military). I grew up in San Antonio, which is a very military-oriented city. On top of that, both of my grandfathers served in the Air Force.

My dad's dad.

My mom's dad (the little girl in the pictures is her)
Aren't they handsome?

What about you? Do you have any veteran's in your life?

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30 Days of Thankful: Gig 'em Aggies!

I know I'm posting Day 10 on Day 11, but I think these need 2 separate posts.

I am thankful for a Texas A&M win over Alabama! (Whoop!)

For those of you who don't know, A&M moved to the SEC this season from the Big XII. The SEC is widely accepted as the best college football conference in the nation. There were so many people out there who said we would never be able to compete in such a talented conference. I'll admit, even I said it would take a few years for us to be able to hold our own.

Well, my friends, I gladly tell you, I was WRONG! We have stood up to SEC team after SEC team, losing only 2 games this season, by 8 points total. We started off the season unranked, and went into our game yesterday ranked 15th in the nation.

We played against Alabama, who went into yesterday's game ranked #1 and undefeated.

The game started off with an early Aggie lead 20-0 by the end of the first quarter. The second quarter consisted of Alabama quickly dwindling that lead down to 6 points. The rest of the game was back and forth. I swear I had 13 1/2 mini heart attacks in the last 5 minutes of the game. 

Well, all's well that ends well, right? We managed to hang on to our lead and ended the game with a 29-24 final score! 

Next week's rankings won't officially be out until later tonight,  but as of now we are projected to be ranked number 9 and Alabama has been knocked down to 4th. For you college football fans, this is a great article that outlines projections for the rest of the season.

So, in short, I am thankful for being proven wrong last night. I am incredibly proud of my Aggies and proud to be a part of the Aggie family.

How did your teams fare yesterday?

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Friday, November 9, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: Shhh! It's a Secret!

Day 9
Today I am thankful for the new Secret Boards on Pinterest.

What a genius move just in time for the holidays! Now I can create gift idea lists for all of my family and friends with no worries of the surprise being spoiled!

This is also going go come in handy for all you brides-to-be out there. Now you can create boards of dream dresses, wedding ideas, etc. and not have everyone's anyone's input on them except your own (unless you want it!).

Mom-to-be, but not ready to share? Create idea boards for announcements, gender reveal parties, nursery ideas, baby supply wish lists, whatever!

What other uses for these secret boards can you think of?

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: 90's Flashback & New Friends

Day 7: I was thankful that my temperature was not...

...98 degrees and rising. (Cheesy? Sorry. I couldn't resist!)

That's right folks, no fever here! I still don't feel all that great, but no fever so far, which most likely means no flu! I'm tempted to crank some 90's boy band tracks and do a little happy dance. Who's with me?

Day 8: Today I am thankful for my sand volleyball league.

One of my coworkers has been trying to get me to join her kickball and volleyball teams for about 6 months now. This time around, I gave in and decided to join the sand volleyball league.

We play through Houston Sports and Social Club. It's a really fun, no pressure league that promotes meeting people and staying active.

Our team is not the greatest (read: we're last in the league with 5 losses and 0 wins), but it's still a ton of fun to go out and play every Thursday night.

I'm going tonight, despite not feeling 100%. Maybe I can bump, set and spike this cold/flu/general yuckiness right out of my system!

What are you thankful for today?

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: Puppy Cuddles

Yesterday, I told you about my 30 Days of Thankful Challenge.

Today I am thankful for my dog and my quilt.

 A bit of a random combination, yes, but today I am not feeling all that great. Almost every year of the past 6 or so, I've gotten some form of the flu (including swine flu when that epidemic was going around). Each time I've gotten the flu, there have been telltale signs as it starts.

For me, it always begins in my legs. I ache from the inside out, starting in my joints and radiating outward. That lovely feeling then moves into my lower back, into my elbows and eventually into my neck. Within another 24 hours or so, my temperature spikes to 102+. Add coughing, sneezing and a general runny nose to the mix and I am miserable for about a week.

Well my friends, tonight, I am at the neck-aching, runny-nose stage. So far, no signs of a fever, but only time will tell.

That's where my dog and the quilt come in. This is my view this evening:

I think she can tell I don't feel well.

When I'm sick, I love nothing more than curling up in my oversized quilt to rest. And cuddling with my puppy just adds to the feel-better mojo. The only thing that would help more? A giant batch of homemade chicken noodle soup. Maybe tomorrow.

How about you? Do you have any telltale signs when you get sick? And what is your go-to that makes you feel better? Pin It Now!

Monday, November 5, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: A Late Start

OK, so I'm a little behind on this. I have friends all over Facebook updating their statuses daily with what they are thankful for. Even before seeing these posts, I had planned on doing a 30 Days of Thankful challenge.

Of course, sometimes life gets in the way, but I'm retroactively starting today. Better late than never, right?

A lot of people are talking about general things they're thankful for, such as friends and family. I, however, want to focus on something specific each day that I'm thankful for. It gets hard sometimes to stop, take a moment, and truly be thankful for something in the midst of life's messes. That's where the "challenge" comes in.

Day 1: Thankful for a project at work that took me to San Antonio and Austin for the week. Despite going for work, it was nice to get out of Houston for a few days!

Day 2: Thankful for the double rainbow I saw on an otherwise long and stressful drive home at the end of a long week. The colors were so vibrant! It was a nice distraction from the fact that I had been in the car for over 4 hours on a drive that should have taken 2 1/2 max.

Day 3: Thankful for getting to sleep in my own bed. Add to this the fact that my eyes didn't pop open (and stay open) at 8AM and you have one happy girl on your hands!

Day 4: Thankful for Daylight Saving Time. Who doesn't love an extra hour of sleep (or an extra hour to do whatever it is you want!)?

Day 5: Today I am thankful to have people in my life who will hold me accountable in my fitness goals. I'm starting a workout routine today with some good friends of mine. Well, "routine" is a strong word. I'm just starting to get my butt back in the gym after a 6+ month hiatus. It's always easier to follow through with workout plans when you make those plans with someone else.I find it's a lot harder to make excuses when you think about letting someone else down rather than just yourself.

What about you? What are you thankful for so far this month? Please comment and let me know! It's great to be inspired by other people's gratefulness. If only there were more good things that were so contagious!

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