Rocky Mountains, Here I Come

In a just a few short hours I will be on a plane headed towards Denver to meet up with Andrew and spend a few days with Jenny!  We traveled there over the summer as well and loved all the opportunities for outdoor adventures.  Here’s some of what we did in July:

DSCN6796  DSCN6783Hiking at Dinosaur Ridge

DSCN6753  DSCN6690Taking cheesy photos around Garden of the Gods 🙂

DSCN6830 IMG_3784Pike’s Peak (+meeting up with our good friend Ashley!)

  IMG_3769  IMG_3708

Seeing Ingrid Michaelson live at Red Rocks


Ah, summer.  This will be a very different trip with all the snow, but I am looking forward to trying some new activities!  (We are skiing on Friday.  I haven’t skied since, oh, 7th grade.  Colorado is a great place to ease back into it, right? 😉

 I have my airport lunch and travel snacks packed and ready to go:

DSCN7458  DSCN7460

-Peanut butter and banana on a whole grain bagel

-Luna Bars




-Trail Mix

-Gummy Cubs(the all natural version of gummy bears, from the bulk bin at Kroger)

That should hold me over until dinner.  🙂

Stay tuned for our Denver adventures…

When Andrew’s Away…

Andrew has been in Denver for work since last week.  I am meeting him there Wednesday, but in the meantime, this is the longest I’ve been home without him!  Here’s a step by step guide to life when he’s gone:

1.  Download instragram and use it only to email myself photos for the blog.

2. Turn the thermostat to a more reasonable temperature.



3. Eat waffles with peanut butter and banana…for dinner.


4. Take a walk at a local park and find Mickey Mouse’s secret hideout.


5. Watch shows on Netflix that he has no desire to see (an entire season, if possible.)


6. Lock the bedroom door at night;  this simple push lock will keep out any bad guys that may already be in the house. (Not pictured: the hammer/weapon beside the bed)


7. Take and send plenty of photos to remind him not to find any Denver honeys 😉


That about covers it for now.  I’m looking forward to seeing him (and Jenny!) in Denver in a few days!

A Week in Workouts

Each week I have a general idea of what and when my workouts will be;  I make a plan, but it’s a very flexible plan.  This is what I typically aim for:

Monday: Run (30-45 minutes)

Tuesday: Weights (30 minutes) + Walk (30 minutes)

Wednesday: Run (30 minutes, speed work)

Thursday: Weights (30 minutes) + Walk (30 minutes)

Friday: Long run

I can usually count on doing something active with Andrew Saturday or Sunday–hiking, taking a walk, biking, tennis, yard work, etc.– so I don’t plan a workout.  If we end up doing nothing, that’s okay too.

What actually ends up happening most weeks?  One of the runs turns into a walk because I’m tired, I hit the snooze button and only have time for weights on Thursday, my “long run” becomes a “not-so-long” run, etc.  And again, that is okay.  I think it’s important to have a plan, but also to allow yourself some grace.  Discipline is great, but rigidity?  Not so much.

I mentioned in my last post that we recently joined a gym.  At first I was hesitant– if you can stay in great shape without paying for a gym membership each month, why would you pay?  About a year ago I remember thinking, “If I never step on another Elliptical, that will be just fine.”  However, so far we have thoroughly enjoyed our gym.  While you certainly don’t need a gym to stay fit, it helps ward off boredom and eliminate the “it’s too cold outside” excuse to not exercise.

The gym has also changed my weekly workout plan.  Here’s what this week looked like for me, in workouts:

Sunday: Elliptical trainer (35 minutes, with Andrew)

Monday: Yard work/hauling wood (youth group service project)

Elder Homes   556043_10151318630033553_998197572_n

Tuesday: Walk (60 minutes, with my friend Kate)

(We walked to Maymont and got to see the goats… I. Love. Goats.  I ask Andrew at least once a month if we can get one.  So far he’s only been opposed to the idea.)


Wednesday: Cycle class (45 minutes, with little bro Ross)

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Treadmill run (40 minutes, intervals + warm-up/cool-down)


Saturday: Weights (I’m planning to, anyway…it’s only 8 a.m.)

Looking back I had lots of social workouts this week, which is rare for me, but I definitely enjoyed it.  I’m also really feeling the group fitness classes at the gym–being surrounded by other people is good motivation not to cut a workout short!

Clearly my weekly exercise plan is changing with our gym membership.  I am looking forward to shaking up my routine and trying new activities… though running is still my first (fitness) love. 🙂

Do you prefer to workout at a gym or at home/outside?

Family, Flowers, and Yoga (Valentine’s Days)

We spread our Valentine’s Day over a few days this year, and every component was awesome.  Here’s what the last few days entailed:

Andrew and I have no problem celebrating events not on the actual day, so our plan was to celebrate V-Day on Wednesday the 13th.  The primary reason?  We just joined a gym, and they offered a yoga class on Wednesday night, and I really wanted to try it!  Andrew agreed to go with me, for Valentine’s Day.  If that’s not love as I described in my last post, I don’t know what is 😉

First, we grabbed a quick dinner at Whole Foods.

Andrew wf           wf

Then we made our way to yoga– Andrew’s first time, and my first time in years (and maybe fourth time ever.)  Despite being the worst in the class, we both enjoyed the experience and will probably do it again.  At the beginning of class the instructor urged us to focus on how we felt as opposed to how we looked because everyone looks different during yoga.  Throughout class I was glad she clarified that because with my eyes closed, this is how I felt:


When I opened my eyes and looked in the wall-to-wall mirrors, this is what I actually looked like:


Minus the nakedness and excess body hair, of course.

On the 14th, we received Valentines from each of our Mamas (thanks, Mama and Donna!)  That night Andrew had a basketball game (he plays in a church league,) but first, he brought home flowers.

DSCN7435   DSCN7439 DSCN7440        DSCN7443

Now, when I say to Andrew, “Don’t get me anything for Valentine’s Day,” I mean it.  I really do.  If he gave me absolutely nothing, he would not be in the proverbial doghouse.  However, I do love flowers, and every year I am thankful when he gives me a bouquet anyway 🙂

photo      photo (1)

Andrew played very well in his basketball game (they won,) and I had some quality time with the other wives and kids in the bleachers.

photo (2)Sinking a free throw.

Later that night, my sister, brother-in-law, and nieces spent the night with us on their way through town.  It was late when they arrived, and Kendall and Lauren were in that funny, tired-but-silly-and-about-to-crash-hard stage.  Exhibits A-D:

photo (3)   photo (4) photo (5)   photo (6)Their hair in all its car seat nap glory 😀

The next morning, we awoke to the sound of children who do not yet know the beauty of sleeping late when possible, and we quickly discovered how child-unfriendly our house is (“Where’s your swing set?”)

Unfortunately, they couldn’t stay long, and they packed up soon after breakfast… But not before squeezing in some quality time with Uncle Ross:

photo (7)(Please note Lauren’s wet, tangled hair in this photo.  When Whitney began brushing it, Lauren frowned, covered her eyes with her hands, and said, “Tell me when it’s over.” :-D)

Family, flowers, and yoga… I could not have asked for a better Valentine’s Day(s!)

Love is a Big Bucket of Fried Chicken

“What comes to mind when you think of Valentine’s Day?”

This is the question I asked the middle school youth group on Sunday as a lead-in to a lesson about love–specifically love as an action word.  I received many of the answers I’d anticipated: chocolate, flowers, hearts, etc.

One girl raised her hand and said, “A big bucket of fried chicken!”  I laughed (who thinks of fried chicken when they think of Valentine’s Day?) and asked if that was a family tradition.  She shook her head, no.  Then I asked, “…or would that just be a good way for someone to show you they cared about you?”  She nodded her head with a big grin and wide “I love fried chicken” eyes.

As a side note, this is a prime example of why I love middle school youth.  You never know what they are going to say.  You think you know, but you don’t.

I laughed to myself and mentally filed that gem away as Reason # 5723 why I love middle schoolers, but as I reflected on it later it occurred to me that what this girl said went deeper than the bottom of the bucket.  In fact, she pointed to the very core of our lesson on love.

Dr. Gary Chapman is a world renowned expert on love and marriage.  In his book The Five Love Languages he describes five general categories, or “languages,” in which we communicate love: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts.  The idea is that every person speaks one or two of these languages stronger than any of the others, and when that person is loved in that particular language, they feel especially loved.

For example, a person whose primary love language is words of affirmation might melt upon receiving a sappy love note for Valentine’s Day, whereas a person whose primary love language is receiving gifts might think, “Are you kidding me? Where are the roses?  Where are the chocolates?”  Someone whose love language is quality time might feel most loved by taking a walk together; a physical touch person would need to hold hands on that walk to feel really loved.  Someone whose love language is acts of service might feel most loved if their spouse watches the kids so they can take a walk by themselves.

I have found this concept to be true, not only in marriage, but in non-romantic relationships as well.  Regardless of a person’s love language, however, I think the underlying truth is this:

Love is a choice.

Love is an action word.  In John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  You see, Christ demonstrated the greatest love by dying on the cross for us.   Love doesn’t get any more true than that.

There’s no question that when God commands us to love our neighbor and love our enemy, He is not suggesting we attempt to conjure up a warm fuzzy feeling toward them, but rather that we choose to love them in an active way.  In the same way that Christ loved us by laying down His life for us, we must love others by choosing to lay down our lives and put them first.

I don’t scrub the toilets because I enjoy doing so;  I do it because… oh, who am I kidding?  I don’t scrub the toilets.  Better example: Andrew doesn’t scrub the toilets because he enjoys doing so;  he does it as an act of love, because doing so means that I don’t have to.  And I hate scrubbing the toilets.

Loving someone could mean taking them on a picnic.  It could mean giving them flowers.  It could mean doing the dishes. Giving them a foot massage.  Cooking dinner.  Writing them a heartfelt note.  Sitting on the couch and talking.  Holding hands.  Telling them you are proud of them.  Buying them an unexpected gift.  Taking out the trash.  Answering the phone when they need to talk.  Giving them a ride when their car is in the shop (even if it requires you to wake up 30 minutes early.)

Loving someone could simply mean putting a big bucket of fried chicken on the table for dinner because you know they’ll love it.


Today–and tomorrow, the next day, and so on–I challenge you to love the people around you.  To lay down your life for theirs.

It’s easier said than done, I know, but what a beautiful example we have in the One who laid down His life for us.

The Ghost of Valentine’s Day Past

Valentine’s Day: Love it or hate it, right?

Eh, I fall somewhere in the middle.  Here’s my take on the day:

If you have a special someone in your life, go ahead and celebrate…but don’t get crazy.


Carrying a giant stuffed bear around school all day like Taylor Swift in Valentine’s Day= crazy…even if Taylor Lautner was the giver

If you are single, enjoy the day, eat some chocolate, but please–please–don’t feel like you are worthless because you are unattached.  That’s simply not true.

VALENTINES DAYYou don’t have to throw an “I Hate Valentine’s Day” party like Jessica Biel’s character in Valentine’s Day.  But you can if you’d like.

Andrew and I had our first Valentine’s Day together three years ago.  As February 14 approached, we discussed plans:

A: What did you have in mind?

C: Oh I don’t know.  A candle-lit dinner, bottle of wine, Frank Sinatra…

(Fast forward a week or so, Andrew teased me for being cheesy.  For the record, I was doing so on purpose, to be funny.)

A: …Candle-lit dinner, wine, Frank Sinatra, flowers…

C: Hey, I didn’t say anything about flowers.

A: Well, I know, but I just thought it would be nice if you got me some.


How did we end up spending the day?  Valentine’s Day was on a Sunday that year, so on Saturday we cooked dinner together, ate it by candlelight in the living room of my small, but awesome apartment, and exchanged gifts.   I gave Andrew flowers, per his request, and he gave me nicer flowers.  He also gave me a homemade squirrel catching kit, but that’s another story for another day.  I have no idea what else I gave him other than a very appropriate card, only to find out later that he hates greeting cards and would rather have the $5.  That’s the last card I ever gave him.

Sunday afternoon, on actual Valentine’s Day, we went to Maymont, a gorgeous historic estate and park in Richmond.view

We spent a few hours walking through the gardens, climbing trees, and feeding the goats.  When we were ready to leave, we were as far as we could possibly be from the car, so we decided to take a shortcut through a snowy field.  Not wanting my shoes to get wet, Andrew offered to carry me on his back.  Picture perfect, right?

Sure, right up until he slipped in the snow and fell backwards.  My head hit the snow, and I was staring up at the sky before I’d even realized what was happening.  Soaking wet from head to toe, we both laughed in a belly-aching kind of way.  I laughed so hard, in fact, that I let out a fart–a very audible fart.  (Thankfully, it was not the first, and it was certainly not the last.)  At that point we laughed even harder.

And it was just perfect.

Anyone have any good, bad, funny, or embarrassing Valentine’s Day stories?  I’d love to hear them 🙂

Ginger-Lime Salmon and Asparagus-Mushroom Risotto

Andrew and I tag-teamed dinner last night.  He handled the protein, and I made a side dish from a recipe found in The Gluten-Free Bible cookbook:  Asparagus-Parmesan Risotto.  As usual, I altered it a bit.

I don’t have the exact recipe for what Andrew made, but I know he cooked the salmon in a skillet with lime slices and ginger, and made a soy sauce based sauce.  It tasted good, but the risotto was the clear winner according to my taste buds.

Asparagus-Mushroom Risotto

4 tbsp butter (we used Smart Balance)

2 c uncooked Arborio rice

2/3 c dry white wine

5 1/2 c low sodium chicken broth

1 bunch of asparagus (cut into 1 inch pieces)

2/3 c frozen peas

12 oz mushrooms

Salt & Pepper

1. Melt 3 tbsp butter in large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in rice; cook 2 minutes or until rice is coated with butter, stirring frequently.  Add wine; cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine is absorbed.

2.  Meanwhile, bring broth to a simmer in medium saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce to heat to low.

3. Add 1 1/2 c hot broth to rice mixture; cook and stir 6-7 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed.  (Mixture should simmer, but not boil.)  Add 2 c broth and asparagus; cook and stir 6-7 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed.  Add remaining 2 c broth, peas, and mushrooms; cook and stir 6-7 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed and rice mixture is creamy.

4. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1 tbsp butter.  Add salt & pepper to taste.


I did sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on mine, as the original recipe suggested–none for the lactose-intolerant guy, unfortunately.  At first glance, 4 tablespoons of butter seemed like a lot to me, but the recipe made so much risotto that there really isn’t that much butter per serving.

And, oh man, it was tasty.  Even without the Parmesan cheese it was creamy and filling.  Andrew and I both went back for seconds.


Starting Seeds Indoors

After our farming adventure Saturday morning, Andrew and I decided to spend the evening starting some seeds for our vegetable garden.  Yes, we are that wild and crazy.  We’ve been looking forward to spring and talking abstractly about our garden since last summer, when our “garden” consisted of a few plants in pots.  (We weren’t ready to commit to a permanent location in the yard yet.)

DSCN6621   DSCN6622Small, but proud 🙂

A few weeks ago I bought more seeds than we will be able to use (I got a little too excited about the possibilities) and we have been eager to plant them.  After working with Shalom Farms on Saturday, we no longer could resist the urge to start some of the seeds indoors. (<–After writing and rewriting that sentence, I’ve determined there is no way to say what I’m trying to say without sounding like a hippie.  It is what it is.)

DSCN7401Definitely not all the seeds…

Let me preface this by saying that we are far from experts when it comes to gardening.  (Exhibit A: We grew our vegetables in pots last summer. See above.)  We are educating ourselves as best we can, but this is very much a learning process for us 🙂

First we brought some organic soil inside to let it warm.


Then we put soil in the individual containers of a seed starting kit (purchased at Lowe’s.)


We planted the seeds (bell peppers, hot peppers, slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and cantaloupe) per the instructions on each package, and admired our work 😀

DSCN7404Dear Future Children, we are sorry about your giant elf ears 😉

Finally, we put the greenhouse lid on the kit, and set up a light nearby to further warm up the soil (we keep our house way too cold to support life.  Plant or human.)


For months I’d been saving that coffee can.  I didn’t know for what, but I had a gut feeling we’d need it for something.  As it turns out, it’s just what we needed to stake the spotlight at the right height/angle to warm the baby plants.  Win.

Now we are keeping the mini greenhouse in our guest bathroom–it has a skylight, so the room is very sunny most of the day–with a space heater that will automatically turn off when it reaches its set temperature.  We put a thermometer in the container to make sure we aren’t frying or freezing the seeds.  We are checking on them at a frequency that is nothing short of obsessive.

If all goes well, we will start some more seeds indoors.

If not, well, as I said: this is a learning experience.  🙂

Community Farming- Shalom Farms

Our philosophy on food is simple:  the closer to the earth we eat– the more whole, real foods like fruits and vegetables we eat– the better we are going to feel.  I believe this is as true for wealthy suburbanites who can afford lots of organic produce as it is for those who fall below the poverty line and don’t know how they’re going to buy their next meal.

Shalom Farms is a nonprofit community farm in the Richmond area with goals of providing quality food to low-income urban neighborhoods, building community, and improving the self-sufficiency of those involved.

Shalom Farms relies heavily on volunteers to help with the farm and ultimately provide food to those in need, and Andrew and I had the pleasure of being part of a team from our church that worked with them this Saturday.  Despite the February chill that’s still in the air, they are hard at work preparing for the growing season.  They’ve begun seeding some early crops (like broccoli, which can grow when it’s a little cooler.)  We were given a tour of their heated greenhouse and had the opportunity to taste test some freshly-picked arugula.  We were also kept company by a bunch of friendly chickens and two crazy cats.  Just another day on the farm.

Our tasks for the day were mulching a few rows of crops and thinning the raspberry and blackberry bushes.

541402_10100749472777898_884413781_nPhoto by/stolen from Evan Taylor…thanks, Evan 😉

Despite my nose running like a faucet from the cold, it was an awesome morning!  We were able to accomplish a lot, and it was cool to know that we were laying some groundwork for what will ultimately provide quality food to those who need it.  What an unexpected way to serve God!

538088_10151311037372675_337716449_nThe team

Again, Shalom Farms relies heavily on volunteers, so if you live in the Richmond area and would like to part of this great organization, I know they would love to hear from you!

Our morning at the farm inspired our evening activities, but more on that later. 🙂

Breakfast and Post Run Fuel

I’m a morning runner.  I enjoy the stillness of life before most people are awake, the sounds, the dim light.  I am a morning runner, but I am not a roll-out-of-bed-put-on-my-running-shoes runner.  I am a hungry person in the morning, and the hunger hits hard and fast.  From the time my eyes open in that blissful, half-awake state, I have approximately eleven minutes until my stomach is snarling (yes, it’s beyond a growl) in a painful way.

Here’s one of my morning favorites that is satisfying, healthy, and delicious (and probably won’t give you “the feeling” in the middle of your run.  You know what I’m talking about.) :

Cocoa Almond Oatmeal with Banana


1/2 c oats (not instant oatmeal)

1 c almond milk (unsweetened)

1 tbsp almond butter

1 tsp cocoa powder (not hot cocoa mix)


1. Bring almond milk to a boil.  2. Add oats. Reduce heat, and cook oats for about 3 minutes, stirring regularly.  3. Add cocoa powder.  Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring well to mix the cocoa and oats.  4.  Remove from heat, add almond butter, and stir well.  5. Top with sliced banana, and enjoy!

You could certainly use regular or soy milk rather than almond milk, and peanut butter rather than almond butter.  Using hot cocoa mix instead of cocoa powder would be extra tasty, but I am trying to keep the added sugar to a minimum 😉  Also, shredded coconut would be excellent in this bowl, but alas, we did not have any.

After running or any type of workout, it’s important to refuel your muscles with a combination of carbohydrates and protein.  My go-to is a smoothie:


Frozen berries + frozen mango + spinach + soy milk

Why frozen fruit?  It gives the smoothie thickness without having to add ice.  Spinach?  It has SO many health benefits, and you can’t taste it, I promise. 🙂  A banana will do wonders for your smoothie as well, but I’ve found my stomach can only handle banana in small doses (weird, I know.)  I had already hit my daily limit with the oatmeal!

DSCN7264Ooh Yeeah.

Just make sure you floss; those berry bits you see have a way of placing themselves between every single one of your teeth 🙂