National Coffee Day and a Remodel Update

First things first….Happy National Coffee Day, everyone!!!! Woooo!! Ya!!!! Best day ever and, of course, I HAD to get a coffee to celebrate!

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Ok, now that that’s take care of… I realized the other day that I haven’t posted an update on our remodel lately! A lot has changed since my last update. Probably the biggest change being that we have windows now!! And most of the house is covered with house wrap.

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Isn’t the green pretty?? I’m thinking of leaving it like that… Totally kidding…You can see my tiny attempt at fall festiveness on our front door. Brandon also finished the plumbing inside. Currently, he’s working on our awesome 2-story deck!
Brice came over the other day to pick up some apple cider cake donuts that I made for him and wasn’t out of his car 2 seconds before he got put to work.

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Gotta earn them donuts, bro!

The beams for our deck are super tall so, of course, the day we put them up we had a super crazy wind and rain storm. I barely slept that night. I kept worrying that the wind was going to blow the beams over and smash our neighbor’s car. That would seriously suck. Then, when I finally fell asleep, I dreamt that someone snuck in and stole all of Brandon’s tools. Oy! What a night! But when morning came, no beams had fallen over and all the tools were right where Brandon left them. Phew! I’ll be happy when we have doors in and can lock everything up. We’re so close! As a matter of fact, we have our front door, it’s just not installed yet.

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It’s a little dusty, but it’ll be gorgeous once it’s cleaned up and installed! We’re so close to finishing up the outside and turning our attention to the inside work and I can’t wait to see it all come together!

Fit Friday

 

 

 

 

 

 

And by Fit Friday, I’m mean, “Ugh, I’m tired.”

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I taught Cardio30 this morning, then had an appointment for an FMS with a trainer at the fitness club I work at. FMS stands for Functional Movement Screening. The trainer took me through a series of movement patterns (squats, push ups, lunges, etc), and evaluated my strengths and areas that could use improvement. I learned that I have a strong core (thank you, Group Centergy!) and tight hamstrings (thank you(??), cycling). When my sweet trainer asked if I ever roll out or use a lacrosse ball, I sheepishly answered that I think about doing it a lot! Soooo, she gave me a few stretches and tips to relax my hamstrings and glutes (cycling is killer on those puppies too) so they won’t snap like a twig. I promptly went home and did them like a good student, and oh my goodness, they made a difference!! I can walk without feeling like my legs are gonna fall off. 

Once I got all loosey goosey with my lacrosse ball and stretches, I headed back to the gym for workout #2 of the day. A coworker who is trying to become certified to lead Spartan training needed some guinea pigs for a test session. Spartan is a 30 minute, high intensity small group training session. We rotated through a series of exercises, including TRX rows and thrusters, for a half hour with our trainer correcting our form and pushing us to keep going when we felt like quitting. If I wasn’t sore before (which I was), I’m really sore now (which I am). 

What I learned from all my workout experiences today is the importance of recovery. So often, I focus on how many group exercise classes I take a week and working hard in those classes, but I forget that the stretching and recovery portion of a workout is just as important as the work. My goal next week is to try to spend more time giving my body some TLC. My goal is to spend some time rolling out, either with a foam roller or lacrosse ball after each workout. I also decided to do a little research on post-workout recovery…while eating a bowl of recovery popcorn (a stretch? maybe).

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I found an article on the Fitsugar website with tips on how to prevent post-workout soreness. Some of them were awesome (drinking coffee before a workout reduces post-workout muscle pain? Good, cuz I needed another excuse to drink coffee), and others I think I’ll pass on (post-workout ice bath? Brrrr, no thank you!). It also mentioned that itchy legs are normal when exercising, which was a relief because I thought I had Group Centergy-induced dry skin. (Gross…TMI?) Anyhooooo, all that work today has made me extra hungry and my recovery popcorn didn’t fill me up…maybe some recovery donuts will help. (Putting “recovery” in front of a food automatically makes it the perfect post-workout snack.) (I think I get the award for most parenthesis in a blog post.) Geez, I’m getting loopy with hunger. I should sign off before I put something else in parenthesis…kidding (not).

 

Baked Apple Cider Cake Donuts

Fall is official here – leaves are turning beautiful shades of red and yellow, coffee shops are serving pumpkin-flavored drinks, the rain has arrived, and boots and scarves abound! Sunday, I dressed all cute in skinny jeans and flats for church, then promptly went home and changed into a sweatshirt, hat and slippers. There’s just something about rainy, cold, windy days that make you want to curl up on the couch with a cozy sweatshirt and a cup of hot cocoa…or chai…or apple cider – any hot drink will do. 🙂

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(Instagram)

It’s also apparent that fall is here from all the fall decor/craft/recipe pins on Pinterest. I found a delicious-looking recipe for Baked Apple Cider Cake Donuts and I’ve been waiting oh-so-impatiently for apple cider to come out in the stores to make these donuts! I was grocery shopping yesterday and what did I see in the produce section?? Fresh apple cider!! I scooped up a quart and promptly went home to make my donut holes! 

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These donuts were so easy to make! Just mix the batter, drop it in a mini muffin pan, pop it in the oven, then dip in butter and cinnamon and sugar. Mmmmmm!! So good! Here’s the recipe. I was worried that because they weren’t friend like regular donuts that they wouldn’t taste as good, but boy, was I wrong! They were just as good as the apple cider cake donuts from the grocery store. I ate them fresh out of the oven with a hot cup of coffee, though they’d be excellent with a mug of warm apple cider as well.

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(Instagram)

Albany 2 Rivers Run and Columbia River Power Marathon

Yesterday was family run day. Mom, Coby, and I ran a 5k in Albany with my mom’s cousin, Michele, and aunt, Shelley. Meanwhile, Dad ran a half marathon hours away in Umatilla, Oregon. 

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Mom, Michele, Aunt Shelley, and me

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Me and Coby trying to stay warm pre-race. How is he taller than me??

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Me and Mom post-race. We both PRed! 

Dad ran in the Columbia River Power Marathon, a run that starts in Umatilla, Oregon, crosses the McNary Dam into Washington, and comes back into Oregon along the Lewis and Clark Trail. He rocked it, coming in 24th place overall and finishing in 2:02.

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Dad (left), with his work buddies.

The rest of us ran the Albany 2 Rivers Run in Albany, Oregon. Dad and I ran this race last year.

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(Instagram)

My family wanted to represent in this race again this year because it holds a special place in our heart. The Albany 2 Rivers Run is a a run in memory of a friend of my cousin’s, Nate Turner. Nate graduated from Western Mennonite School, the same high school I graduated from and my brother, Coby, goes to now. My cousin went there as well and was friends with Nate. Nate was a firefighter who passed away in a rock climbing accident in 2011. The Albany 2 Rivers Run raises funds for the Nate Turner Memorial Scholarship at a local community college.

Coby runs cross country at Western Mennonite and his coach is a friend who graduated from WMS the same year as me and whose older brother was actually a friend of Nate’s as well. To show the support of WMS, the cross country team ran the 5k run.

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The course was primarily flat (thank the Lord) and it rained a bit for most of it. Overall, it was a great run. It’s fairly small, but since this is only the run’s 3rd year, hopefully it’ll keep growing. Our little group got quite a few awards. Coby and his buddy came in 2nd and 3rd place respectively in their age bracket. Caleb, Coby’s cross country coach, came in 1st place in his age bracket, while Caleb’s mom came in 2nd in her age bracket. Mom also got an award – 1st place in her age bracket! 

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Mom was so surprised by her award that she went to double check the race stats because she was sure they’d made a mistake.

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(Instagram)

Mom and Coby with their race ribbons!

I didn’t win any ribbons, but I did win some hard cider from 2 Towns Cider House. 

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(Instagram)

Ribbon Schmibbon, hard cider is where it’s at!

I haven’t broken these babies open yet, but I won a couple bottles at the Albany 2 Rivers Run last year and they were soooo good!! I also won a super cute v-neck t-shirt from 2 Towns Cider House last year and it’s seriously the comfiest, best fitting t-shirt ever!

Overall, it was a great run! Good food post-race, great prizes, nice course, and great running buddies. I think we’ll make this run a family tradition. It’s for a great cause and I hope it continues to grow.

 

 

 

Homemade Luna Bars…Oh My!!

I love bars…not the drinking kind, the snacking kind. Granola bars, Cliff bars, Luna bars, Kind bars, etc. They’re a quick snack that I can keep in my purse or desk at work to eat when I just need a little pick me up. My favorite favorite favorite bars are Luna bars. I LOVE the Chocolate Peppermint Stick flavor the very best, but in a pinch, I’ll buy the White Chocolate Macadamia or the Nuts Over Chocolate.

Over the weekend, I came across a recipe for homemade Luna bars here. What??? Yes, homemade Luna bars. Chocolate Covered Katie has some amazing looking healthier chocolate recipes…and her blog is called Chocolate Covered Katie – Too Cute! Naturally, I had to make these bars as soon as possible. photo (8)

They were AH-mazing!!! So crunchy and chocolatey!! Now, Katie’s pictures are WAY better than mine, so you should head over to her blog for more appetizing looking photos. Also, you might want to read the full directions before making them. I’m notorious for skimming through a recipe and making things without fully understanding the directions. Then they don’t turn out the way they’re supposed to and I can’t figure out why (duh, Whit, because you didn’t read the directions). The recipe says to mush the rice crispy mixture super super well before freezing it…which I did not. It also says to spread the chocolate on the bars before freezing…which I also did not. Soooooo I put my bars in the freezer for 30 minutes like the recipe says, THEN spread the chocolate and had to wait another 30 minutes to eat my goodies. I recommend following the directions (duh). 

photo (9)I took my “Luna Bars” to a meeting at work and they were a big hit. They’re like rice crispy treats, only WAY better. I would have gladly eaten the whole pan…which is why I had to take them to work to get them out of the house.

 

Forever Friends

One of the best things I got from high school is a group of really close girl friends. There were 4 of us that did everything together – we got dressed up for our school banquets together (our private school didn’t have dances or prom), went to school sports events together, and ate lunch together. Since graduating from high school and going our separate ways, the 4 of us have had an email chain going to keep us updated on each other’s lives. That email chain has kept us connected through moves to Canada, Africa, Virginia and Colorado, through marriages and mission trip, college life and “adult” jobs post-college. Now, 7 years later, that chain is still going. There is nobody else in high school that I have kept as closely in touch with as these 3 girls and I know that if it weren’t for that email chain, we wouldn’t be as close as we are now. How else do you keep so closely in touch when one of you lives in Oregon, one in British Columbia Canada, one in Idaho, and another going off to spend 2 years in South Asia??

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Bre and Celeste on Christmas break our freshman year of college.

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Sarah, our friend Mahlet, me, and Bre at Mahlet’s uncle’s Ethiopian restaurant in Portland, OR.

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Celeste and me on a trip to Sunriver, OR with Bre.

Last week, I had the chance to see 2 of these lovely ladies in person! Celeste is leaving to spend 2 years bringing the Bible to people in South Asia. Bre came down from Canada to see her before she leaves, so the 3 of us got together for lunch to send Celeste off.

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We had lunch at this little tea parlor in downtown Albany, OR, then walked around downtown catching up on life before I had to head back to Salem to go to work. There’s a little toy store downtown that had a bucket of sidewalk chalk set out for people to draw on the sidewalk with. So, of course, we had to stop and contribute our own artwork.

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(Instagram)

I’m so grateful for friendships that stay strong despite distance and time. Every time we get together, it feels like we pick right back up where we left off because we’ve been in touch often through our emails. Celeste has been working towards her dream of overseas missions for awhile now and I’m so happy that she gets to see that dream fulfilled. It was wonderful to see her before she leaves and I’m very thankful that we’ll still be able to keep in touch via email, even though she’s across the globe. If you want to find out more about how Celeste will be bringing God’s Word to people in South Asia, click here to check out the team website. She can always use prayers and, if you feel led, financial support. She’ll also have a blog up once she gets there. As soon as I know what the blog address will be, I’ll post it. 

Unscheduled Love

I’m a firstborn and most definitely a Type A personality. I love organization and and planning, and usually have a schedule of what my day is going to look like in my head before I ever get out of bed in the morning. During the week I wake up, eat breakfast, work out, shower, then do any chores that need to be taken care of around the house before I go to work. 

Brandon and I haven’t had a lot of time together this week due to opposite work schedules and other things we’ve had going on. I woke up this morning with my usual schedule in my head, but Brandon had some time to kill before he had to start working on the plumbing for our house. I had a choice: stick to my schedule (I was all dressed and ready to head to Group Power) or throw the schedule to the wind and take advantage of some unexpected together time with my hubs. I ended up skipping my workout to spend the morning with Brandon. This morning, spending time with my hubby was more important that my “to do” list or my daily workout. I think our time together meant even more to Brandon because he knows how important routine is to me and I was willing to give it up for a day to be with him. He asked why I didn’t go to the gym this morning and I told him, “because I wanted to be with you.” 

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                         “Happily ever after is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice.”  – Fawn Weaver of The Happy Wives Club

It’s those little choices that strengthen relationships. When Brandon said he wanted to spend time with me this morning, I sat at the kitchen table thinking through my options. I had already planned on going to the gym – I was even dressed and ready to go. I could just tell Brandon that and he would understand, then we could spend time together after work tonight. But I knew that I would be tired after work and that our time together would be more meaningful if I made it a priority instead of pushed it off for later. So I decided to forgo the gym and spend the morning cuddling with my hubby. Life falls into a routine and I end up doing things on autopilot without really thinking through them. I hope that I will keep my eyes open more often for opportunities like this to break out of the monotony of routine and take advantage of the chance to show the people around me what they mean to me – not just Brandon, but my friend, family, and coworkers too.