Saturday, June 29, 2013

Time Flies When You're Married

Today is mine and Wes' one year wedding anniversary.

Had you asked me a year ago about marriage, I would have been like, "no big deal." But a year later, I'm less naive. It IS a big deal. And it's frustrating, challenging, sometimes mean and angry and all around a pain in the a**. But I'm glad that we are each other's pain in the a**.


The love, connection and personal growth I have experienced this year, just by being able to call someone my "husband" is powerful. This one year of marriage has made me more passionate than ever about championing for the right for EVERYONE to legally call someone else "husband" or "wife."

Words themselves are symbols for other things. By calling someone "boyfriend/girlfriend", "husband/wife", we empower that relationship--legitimize it within "reality." The word "marriage" has become a power symbol. And some have been so quick to try to define that abstract concept, which defies definition.

When we talk about language in my COM103 class, I always ask my students to define the word "love." What is the difference between "I love those shoes" and "I love my mom?" Is love always romantic love? What is the sensory experience of being "in love"? Is the word "love" universal? Is it just a human feeling? How do you KNOW you love someone? What do you MEAN when you say "I love you" to someone else? How much love is required to apply a label to the relationship?

Love is abstract. There is no singular definition you can place on it to encompass the range of experiences and emotions that are associated with it. "Marriage" is similar--how can you define that which is so complex and evolving?

Labels are important, powerful. Like the word "love," everyone deserves to use the word "married."




Today I also want to share my wedding vows. (Here's a link to the story of how we met in case you were curious) Wes and I wrote our own vows. As a speech teacher, I'm pretty damn proud of the fact that I wrote the whole ceremony myself :) Here goes:


Wesley, today, I have to marry you. I have to marry you because we are tied together by things that that are way too complicated to explain to someone new. I have to marry you because there’s not too many people in this world who can simultaneously make me laugh and also want to shank them. I have to marry you because you are the only person I can imagine growing old, senile and cranky with. I have to marry you, because when I met you, my soul leaped up in my chest and said, “Oh there you are—I’ve been looking for you!” I have to marry you because I love you and I can’t even begin to fathom living without you.

Me, 19. Wes, 22. We were babies!

We balance each other. You are the pepper to my salt, the Eve to my Wall-E, the bake to my shake, the bumble to my “B,” and the beat to my heart, the flip to my flop, and the love of my life. Being the first-class space cadet that I am, you are the anchor that keeps my feet on the ground. I love you because have a heart of gold and you always see the best in people—and you always give second chances. I love you because you paint life a little larger and funnier than it actually is. And of course, I love you simply because you are you, no pretending or pretenses.

He must love me if he agreed to be the dalmatian to my Cruella DeVille!

I don’t come to you today with promises to serve, honor, and obey. We both know that’s not my style. But do promise to trust, love and respect you. I promise to be honest and, even sometimes put you in your place (it’s good for you!). I will try my hardest to listen and not talk over you, though we both know that it’s not my strongest suit. Things will not be perfect or easy, but I promise to let the small things go.

I promise to laugh at your jokes—no matter how many times you tell them. I promise to build a life, a family and traditions with you. I will try to be the best possible human being, wife, and sidekick you could ever want in this lifetime, or the next.

Today, Bobby Wesley Carter II, I give you my heart forever.






Happy Saturday, Friends! Happy Anniversary, Wesley--I love you forever.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Fun Friday: Whatever I Feel Like Edition

It's FRIIIIIDAY!

And the first official FUN FRIDAY since I've been back to blogging. What is Fun Friday you may ask?

Whatever I feel like okay GOSH!



Like, if I feel like posting about going out for ice cream on a Wednesday night and bringing the pups:

They got baby bowls of fro-yo
Daisy pausing to lick her face
Carl's...so good.


Or, like if I want to share this HILARIOUS parody of Prancercise: SO YOU THINK YOU CAN PRANCE!


I don't care how much they make fun of Prancercise and Joanna Rohrback--she prances to the beat of her own drummer. And I kinda like that about her! You go on girl with yo prance self!

Speaking of hilarious...

I have a free subscription to Women's Health Mag. I got this issue in the mail yesterday and had to do a double-take:


"How to Friend Someone in Real Life"? I hope that is a joke because I laughed my a** off. I'll admit, it is harder to form friendships as a post-college adult, but really, does it require a magazine how-to? Step One: Say "hello"....

Moving right along.

I know it's going to be a good Friday because this pic showed up in my bookface newsfeed:


That's my stone fox of a congressional representative, Aaron Schock, with the also hunky creator of Insanity, Sean T. They were working out together this morning! I'M JELLY! Good to see that Mr. Schock is still sticking to his campaign exercise promises though.


You know what...I like you. YES YOU! So here some fresh jams just for your iPod. Cuz, as I just said, you're my fav!

1. Royals by Lorde
(Good beat! I'm impressed with this 16-year-old from Auckland!)

2. Inner Ninja by Classified
(The other guy in this video, who's singing the chorus, reminds me of Bill Nye. Hi-YAH!)

3. Love/Hate Thing by Wale
(Love. Just love.)

4. Beware by Big Sean
(I almost can't listen to any songs with Lil Wayne in them anymore because his voice is so obnoxious. But I like this one. Because he's barely in it)

5. Chainsaw by Family Force 5
(I don't know what Soulja Boy was cranking, but it wasn't as bada** as a chainsaw! :) I've seen these Atlanta guys perform before. They are seriously coordinated! This video is hilarious! If Gangnam Style hit #1, there is hope for this song too)


Have a flippin' sweet Friday!

Q: What are your weekend plans? Have a current favorite song? Share!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Get to Steppin'

Happy Wednesday! How is your week going, peeps?

Mine started on a high note--I got to sub a Step and Tone class on Monday! "Step Aerobics" was the first format that I taught when I started teaching fitness, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

If you've never tried it, give step a chance! It takes about three classes to pick up on the moves, but once you've got the hang of it, it's a good brain and leg workout.

(SOURCE)

According to Peterson et al. (Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, 1993), the typical step routine produces between 6-11 METs (metabolic equivalents--which measures how hard your body is working. Like a level system). Other exercises that produce 6-11 METs:

-Running at 10 minutes/mile
-Cycling at 10mph
-Zumba or dance fitness

So, Step is as effective as running!

My super sweet step combos!

This past weekend one of my best friends (and former bridesmaid), Pam, came to visit. She is pretty flippin' awesome and always brings food and games, which is why she is welcome at our house anytime :)

Me and Pam at my wedding a year ago. Can't believe it's been a year already!?!?

This weekend, she introduced me to this game, Carcassonne. Really fun and easy strategy game where you "build" a town and you get points for your castles and roads. Anyone ever played it? I LOVE board games, but I always forget the rules! THIS is pretty much how games go down in our house (love Adventure Time like I love me some board games).



I also got to harvest our first hydrangeas of the season this week! Totally one of my favorite flowers.


Despite the sunny start to the week, today it stormed--thunder and lightning. No fear though, my thunder buddies snuggled close by under my desk. Beaufort hates thunder and lightning. and fireworks. and baths. and pretty much anything that is not sleep, love and food.

Hiding under my desk

Today, I also bring you a quick, easy peasy, vegetarian, healthy ONE POT PASTA!

I saw this recipe on a friend's wall on Facebook and copy/pasted post haste. The picture looked like this:



But this is how mine turned out:

I think you could use fresh tomatoes with this, but I tried canned as the recipe suggests. I made good use of all of that basil in my herb garden! Even my hubs liked this pasta--and he is not a fan of tomatoes! Next time, I think I'll try adding veggies or mushrooms--seems versatile. Throw some parm on that bowl and you have yourself a damn good meal in 20 mins.


One Pot Pasta
12 ounces pasta (I used Linguine)
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with liquid ( I used zesty red pepper flavor)
1 large sweet onion, cut in julienne strips
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 large sprigs fresh basil, chopped
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (regular broth and NOT low sodium)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions:

1. Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, in a large stock pot. Pour in vegetable broth. Sprinkle on top the pepper flakes and oregano. Drizzle top with oil.

2. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated – I left about an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot – but you can reduce as desired. Takes about 5-10 minutes of additional cooking. Just keep checking and stirring every two mins.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stirring pasta several times to distribute the liquid in the bottom of the pot. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese.

4. Nommmmmmmm!


Question of the day: What's your favorite board game? Have you ever tried Step? What did you think?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

DIY Sunday: How To Make a Floral Crown

Ahhhhh, it's Sunday. In our house, it's relaxation day. Or, "catch up on yardwork you didn't do this week" day.

We HAVE to finish laying mulch but it is HOT HOT HOT! (love that Dish Hopper Commercial!)

That's 50 bags of mulch in that truck bed!

Train up, Wes!

We are running the Spartan Race in Marseilles, IL in less than a month. This will be Wes' first obstacle race. I told him to train up with those bags of mulch since there is one obstacle where you run (well, by that point, walk) with sandbags. Practice makes perfect :)

I also finished hanging our new dining room vinyl wall decal. It was a process because all of the white flower petals had to be individually placed! Can we say time consuming?



We've already discussed my love/fail relationship with Pinterest. Today I bring you another DIY craft that I saw and could not resist making--a floral crown. The Inspiration: Bleubird's tutorial (her blog is beautifully designed, so check it out!).

Part hipster, part Ren-Faire, all awesomeness. I wish I could wear one all day every day. Here's my tutorial. I changed it up a bit from the Pinterest inspiration, using materials that I thought would make the crown look more natural and less "wirey." You can get all of these materials in the floral section at Hobby Lobby or Michael's craft stores.



Materials:
Vine Wire
Assorted Flowers (*smaller flowers with thin stems work best)
Brown Floral Stem Tape
Wire cutters (for the vine wire)
Scissors (for the flowers)
Hot Glue (optional)


Here's The Process Step by Step:

Let's Do It:

1. Make a circle with the vine wire and fit it to your head. Cut to fit and wrap the ends together. Keep the ends loosely entwined for a more "rustic" wreath look

2. Cut your flowers and leaves of choice from the bunch of flowers. Be sure to leave about 1/2 - 1" of stem on each flower.

3. Place the flower or leaves against the vine wire crown and secure by wrapping it with the brown stem tape. Repeat this process until you have the crown full of flowers to your liking. I kept my crown sparsely flowered.

4. Depending on the type of flowers you use, you may want to cut the flower stems down to the flower and hot glue the flowers directly to the crown to make them sit at a different angle. Then, once dried, wrap the hot glued area with the brown stem tape to cover the glue.





Now go get creative!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

F.A.(F.)Q's: Frequently Asked Fitness Questions

Happy Thursday! We are over the hump! Let's all take a minute to break dance to this:



See, now don't you feel better? :)

After my last flavored water experiment, I tried making lemon-lime water this week. My husband was a bigger fan of this one than the cucumber mint.


Also, just this morning, I noticed that our neighbors FINALLY cut down the hay in the pasture behind our house. It's been fun watching them bale it over the course of the day!

Step 1: Mow it down

Step 2: Roll it up

Speaking of FINALLY, Wes and I finally got rolling on our plan to landscape the front walkway. When we moved in, we noticed that we had an overgrowth of this stuff:


Myrtle spurge. Heh. Funny name, not so hilarious INVASIVE species. They should call it Zombie Spurge because not only is this stuff impossible to kill but it spreads its INFECTION everywhere! I'm pulling up little sprouts of this stuff constantly. Fun fact: this plant is (ironically) illegal in Colorado.

Basically the spurge took over and murdered everything in our front walkway. So we had to go in and do some recon.

Dug everything up!

Landscaping plans. Love my mad drawing skills? :)


I think we can do it. Ugh, landscaping/gardening is one of those things I'm just not very good at. With home ownership, I'm learning. It just takes me a while to get the hang of it. And a lot of Googling for answers!

Yes, on to the answers to today's FA(F)Q's!

I started this blog back in 2010 as a way to connect with group fitness participants and fitness friends. I also wanted to use this blog as a place to answer frequently asked questions from fitness peeps. Here's a round-up of favorite posts that answer the most common fitness queries! Mind you, some of these posts are two years old, so I plan to write updated versions soon.


ONWARD......

Q: Laura, how do I work [insert body part here]?

A: Best Moves For Your "Pooch"

"Magic 12" Workout

Best Moves for Muffin Tops, Love Handles (Obliques)

(Pssst...also coming at ya in a post soon: Best moves for "ham hocks" (outer/inner thighs) and the "Scientific 7-Minute Workout")


Q: What do you think about [insert diet plan here]?

A: Magic, Diets, and Magic Diets

My thoughts on Dr. Oz's diet advice/plan


Q: Let's talk more food. Should I only eat organic foods? Are they better?

A: Eating Organic? Eating Local?


Q: I'm going on vacation! So sad to miss my workouts but so happy to eat me some McDonald's!

A: Staying Fit While Traveling



Q: Laura, you're so totally cool! How do I become a group fitness instructor like you?

A: How to become a group fitness instructor


Q: What kind of shoes should I get for [insert activity here]?

A: Sole Mates Pt. 1

Sole Mates Pt. 2

Sole Mates Pt. 3

(Super sneaky peek of what's to come next week: I'm gonna be talking about the best shoes to wear for dance fitness and weight training)


Q: What about protein? Should I stick to bro-tein shakes?

A: Walk This Whey


Q: I love your Strong class, but I don't want to get "bulky." What should I do?

A: Pump it: 7 Myths about women and weights


Q: Okay, tell me a secret about fitness. Spill it sista!

A: Five Personal Trainer Secrets


Q: What is the meaning of life?

A: Love yourself and love others and eat some damn cake once in a while! :)



Now I have a question for YOU: What is your theory of the "meaning of life"?

If you EVER have any fitness questions I haven't answered on here, send them my way or post them as a comment!

Friday, June 14, 2013

B Reviews: Viewsport Sweat Activated Shirts

As a public speaking instructor, I am obsessed with the show Shark Tank. I love seeing the creativity in both product invention and pitch. It's all dramatized for TV, but I still use it occasionally in my COM classs of what TO do and what NOT to do in persuasive presentation.

One product on the show was Viewsport "Sweat-Activated" shirts. Invented by Ben Wood, the shirt's "sweat activated technology" reveals a message as you sweat. I couldn't find the original Shark Tank clip, but I found this local news story. You'll get the idea. Mr. Wood got eat alive by the sharks and his message didn't appear when sprayed the shirt during the demo. Presentation nightmare!



Still, positive reviews of the shirts started popping up on the internets recently (read: blogs), so I thought, "hmmm kinda cool." I'm a sucker for gimmicks and new technology. And I sweat a lot :)

So, I headed on over to Viewsport's website to check it out. Kudos to their graphic designer(s) because these shirts are baller!



But since I am not an actual big time fitness blog baller (and consequently do not get free stuff), I shelled out $26 for my "Beast Mode" tank. I also bought a shirt for my husband since he's the one who told me about the product.



Now, I teach some intense classes. And as stated above, I produce a superhuman amount of sweat.

I wore the shirt to my Saturday morning Strong class (weight training). I got nothing. No message appeared on my back. I thought, "Can it be? Did I not beast mode enough to activate this shirt? This shirt thinks I am a wimp."

I wore the shirt to teach my Tuesday night RIPPED class. I was dripping sweat off my face during those burpees and push ups. I even told my class to look for the message! Nada.

Sad that perhaps I should have listened to the Sharks, but determined to make that damn message pop up, I had my husband splash some water on my back. Wal-LA! Message appeared! I AM A BEAST.



So there you have it--these shirts have to be substantially drenched to show. I mean, it has to be SOAKED. Both nights I was wearing a tank underneath (because these shirts are kind of sheer), so that may have affected the sweat-to-message ratio. Overall, an okay product.  Cute design, and it still kinda of makes sweating look cute and bada** at the same time. BEAST MODE! WATCH OUT!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Damn You, Pinterest! The Flavored Water Experiments


How are ya?

This morning, after blow-drying my hair, I noticed that it's faded to a nice lavender! I've got to hand it to Pravana--I'm impressed by this hair color! THIS IS the Pravana color that my stylist Nicole (at Fringe Salon) used. It has faded so nicely that I don't even mind that it's fading!



Maybe it's the colored hair, but I've had intense creative energy lately. I always know when I'm in "creative mode" because my dreams get more elaborate and detailed!

My creativity works kind of like a faucet. When I'm very relaxed and de-stressed, my creativity comes naturally--it's just a steady stream of energy and ideas. When I'm stressed or busy (especially during the school year), it drys up and I lose motivation to create. So I try to work like a crazy person when my creativity is "on."

For example, today I decided to "re-purpose" this old Woodwick Candle container. I burned the candle down to nothing, but I LOVE the container. So I decided to DIY it up to hold some plastic succulents. I settled on plastic rather than real because with the tragic passing of my most recent and long-term house plant, I think I should take a break from "gardening" (I really suck at it).

Materials

I cut the floral foam to the container size, stuck in the fake succulents, and added some stones. Please don't mind the scratched up table. That's the next major project on my to-do list! :)

The elephants dig it.

My bookshelf, once empty, is coming together! Please note the dog bone hiding spot on the bottom left. hehe.


While riding on a creative high, I took to THE PINTEREST. Pinterest projects usually go one of two ways for me--SUCCESS or FAIL. I've had my fair share of both. Like when I made THESE pretty-pretty mini canvas postcards (that's the link to where I got the idea). SUCCESS!

HERE'S my post on these and how I made them. 

But then there are FAILURES. Like my gold branches "Christmas decor." Supposed to look something like this:

Source

Or something like this:

Source

But it turned out like THIS:

More Charlie Brown than X-mas chic :) hehe, I tried! The Pinterest failures are just as awesome as the successes, which is why there are whole BLOGS dedicated to Pinterest and craft failures!

Anyway, in my quest to decrease my caffeine and artificial sweetener consumption this summer, I pinned THIS article about creating flavored water. I'm down to one cup of coffee in the morning, but I still need to trim my beloved Diet Coke obsession. I've heard too many student speeches this year about the dangers of aspartame and artificial sweeteners. Enter flavored water--a fresh and flavorful alternative.

Source

Since my mint is thriving, I decided to try cucumber-mint first.

LOTS of mint!


Made a big ol' pitcher of Cucumber-Mint.


I just want to dunk my face in this freshness.


Feeling gutsy, I also made a batch of watermelon-mint.




The key with the flavored water is to let it sit for a while and then drink it ice cold. I also muddled the mint and fruit a bit to release the flavor. It should last up to three days in the fridge. Some other flavor combos that would be Funky Frrrrresh...

Lemon-mint

Strawberry-basil

Lime-cilantro

Raspberry-lime

Strawberry-lemon

Watermelon-rosemary

Orange-Lemon-Lime

Give it a try! Be creative! And follow my DIY board on Pinterest so we can get crafty together!

Question(s) of the Day: What do you do when you are in a creative rut? When does your creativity really kick in? Have you ever had a Pinterest success or fail? What happened?