Monday, December 31, 2012

#mycommitment :: 12 months of giving.

I've been really excited to reveal my New Year's commitment for 2013.  Later this morning, I'll be running the Commitment Day 5k in Raleigh.  I'll start 2013 off right.  Set my focus for how I want the rest of my year to go.  I already mentioned that my commitment is to be less selfish.  Remember that time I was open and honest about who I am?  I confessed that I am totally selfish.  I've been trying to make small steps already to show D that I appreciate him.  I'll keep that up, but I really want to make a more significant effort to be a little more selfless.  I have a plan.

My commitment is to do something every single month that is dedicated to giving back.  I'm making it easier on myself by setting a specific task for myself every month.  

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out things I have wanted to do for a long time, but I just haven't made them happen.  2013 is time.  2012 was so good to me, and I feel it's time for me to give back.  This is my commitment.

The fun part?  I'd love for you to join me in 12 months of Giving!  I'll be posting at the beginning of each month with my progress & successes from the previous month.  If you're interested in joining me by focusing less on yourself and more on others this year, please join me!  Here's your button, so spread the word!

Want to be a part of the challenge?  Sign-up below!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Food & Beer Friday :: Peanut butter & beer.

While I'm off in Mexico, I thought I'd leave you with a delectable beer to enjoy for your holidays.  I was thrilled when Niki tweeted me about this beer!

You read that right!  This Terrapin Liquid Bliss is a chocolate peanut butter porter!  Whoa!  Terrapin holds a special place in my heart being that we are from Athens, and D has a very special affiliation with the company.  When we were last in Georgia for Thanksgiving, I was able to try this beer for the first time in its freshest form.  On tap at the brewery.

On my initial tasting, this beer was all I ever wanted and more.  The aroma is all about peanut butter.  This delicious aroma definitely adds to the amazing flavors of the beer itself.  The beer is chocolately & not overwhelming.  One important factor: do not get this confused with a stout!  It is not supposed to be thick & creamy.  Porters are much thinner.  Terrapin believes that the porter based better supports the bold peanut butter & chocolate flavors.  I think it makes the beer much more drinkable (read: easy to put down quite a few) whereas stouts can often be too big to drink more than one at a time.

Terrapin's Side Project beers are a line of "experimental" beers that have never been brewed before and in theory are one-time releases.  In reality, a few of the Side Project beers have been put into Terrapin's regular rotation (once upon a time, Gamma Ray, and currently Pumpkinfest, amongst others).  This experimental beer was specially brewed with two types of peanuts: peanut butter and boiled green peanuts (boiled at the brewery!).  Add in cocoa nibs for the chocolate flavor, and it's perfection.

After being able to have Liquid Bliss on draft in a few spots in Raleigh, I'm still in love.  I honestly think this is the beginning of a rivalry between the Bliss & Wake N Bake for my number one favorite beer.  I feel like I detect a bit of a difference in flavors between the bottled version and draft version of this brew.  D says draft is always better, so try it on draft if you are so lucky (not sure how far north kegs are distributed, but I know it's available in some parts of Virginia).  If the best you can do is a bottle, just fucking do it.  I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed.  I plan to drink as much of this beer as I can get my little hands on!



What beers will get you through the holidays?

Have a happy holiday my friends!  D and I will be on the road practically through the 31st, but I have some really awesome things on the horizon.  I can't wait to share my holiday DIYs, Mexico pictures (assuming the world doesn't end ;)), 2012 recaps (what an amazing year for me), and BIG resolutions for 2013.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Weighing-in Wednesday :: Elf4Health & #mycommitment

Remember when I mentioned Elf4Health?  Last week we started round 2, and I was assigned my new elf partner.  She's another Emily, and I just immediately liked her!  She just recently made the commitment to "get skinny" & make a positive change in her life.  Emily posts awesome recipes & eats a lot like I do.

I'm going to breeze right past week two, and focus on last week's challenges.

Monday - Track your water intake and drink your body weight.  If you're a teacher, you know the difficulty in this.  I have very few bathroom breaks throughout the day, and the ones I have can be sporadic (not at specific times each day).

After working out that morning, I started my day with a pint of water to down my vitamins.  I've tried to continue this habit in order to ensure I take my vitamins daily.

At work, I started my day with 32oz. mixed with Emergen-C (I can not afford to get sick before vacation), although I prefer my water sans flavoring normally.  I ended up downing two of these within the work day and finishing getting in my water at home.  The additional water left me feeling much more full, but I definitely had to go to the bathroom way too many times.

Tuesday - Clean out your fridge & pantry.  This was going to be a crazy busy day with a training and event with D after work.  I knew I wouldn't have a lot of time.  I had some extra time after working out to throw away a few old things in the pantry that had been there for way too long.

Wednesday - Eat 3 servings of vegetables by 2pm.  I'm usually really good about this, loading about 2-3 servings in my smoothies for breakfast.  Unfortunately, we started running out of greens & I didn't have much time for a smoothie.  Didn't quite accomplish this...

Thursday - Buy coffee for the person behind you in line.  I'm not a typical coffee buyer.  I make my own at home before work (yay saving money!).  I did hit up Starbucks on my lunch break to surprise my co-teacher with a Gingerbread Latte.  This was really a great feeling!  I'm so happy I did it.

Friday - Work out with a buddy.  Nope.  D and I had to hit the road Friday am for a holiday party in Georgia (um, hello 5.5 hour drive).  I count it as a success that I even worked out at all.  I'm almost done with Ripped in 30.

Weekend - Donate to a charity.  D and I sponsored a child through the angel tree at my school.  I love doing this every year!

It's about time to start thinking about New Year's resolutions.  I briefly mentioned I'm signing up for Commitment Day in Raleigh.  I would definitely encourage you to check out what Commitment Day is all about.  It's a movement that I am really excited to be participating.  I've already determined what #mycommitment for 2013 is going to be.

#mycommitment is to be more selfless.  I think this is going to be a way to make 2013 the year for me.  2012 has been an amazing year of change for me.  Keep an eye out for more on my Commitment Day goal!  I'm really excited about what's to come!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Food & Beer Friday :: Merry Christmas to me.

I have been waiting for so long to taste and debut this beer!  It's no secret that this brewery is one of my favorites from California, so I just had to get my hands on this beauty!

I have the worst memory, but I vaguely remember the tour guide mentioning the Anchor Christmas Ale.  Not only does the label have a cool story but so does the beer!  Anchor's website does a beautiful job of describing everything, and I would encourage you to use the link above to click over and read the story.  Basically, the "secret" to their top secret beer is that they change the Christmas tree on the label every year.  New year, new tree.  They're been brewing this tasty beverage since 1975.

As for taste and flavor, I like it!  The hops are definitely prevalent, but the subtle spices come through at the end for me.  Since the malts and hops are secret, I can't really tell you much about that.  The aroma really just reminds me of Christmas.  As I don't have quite the refined palate, I can't exactly put my finger on what the smells and flavors are.  The color is a dark brown, and you can see the thick creamy head.  I certainly get a bitter aftertaste from the hops.  I wish I got a bit more of a malty end note.  I am dying to try this beer on draft; however I don't know if kegs of it are even sold here in NC.  While the alcohol is only 5.5%, this isn't a beer I just want to down.  I let it mellow out & just sipped on it for a while.  This is a holiday brew that feels like a special treat.

Anchor recommends letting the beer age to really let the flavors mellow.  Lucky for me, D is awesome and scored these bad boys.

While I am scared stoked about the huge bottles, I am most excited that we get to compare last year's Christmas ale to this year's!  Even more lucky for me, D and his advanced palate can help me decipher the different flavors and really analyze both beers.



Have you tried previous years of the Anchor Christmas Ale??
Now that the holidays are approaching, what awesome holiday brews have you tried?!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Being crafty :: Sharpie decorated mugs.

I told you I did a lot of holiday crafting over last weekend.  Since last year, I've gotten to love hand-crafting gifts.  I typically do this for family and for a few reasons.  1) Family can sometimes be the hardest to buy for; 2) Hard work and being handmade means a little more and; 3) It's just plain fun!  I know lots of people have seen these oven baked mugs around Pinterest.  I took this idea and ran with it!

This tutorial is nothing too special, since the entire process is pretty easy.  I don't like to back out on promises of DIY tutorials though!

A few tutorials, such as this one, utilize Porcelaine pens.  I went for the oil-based paint Sharpies.  I read that regular Sharpies didn't hold up with washing, so I went with the oil-based method.  My mugs were picked up at the dollar store for $1/each.

Since I am not very artistic, I really felt the need to sketch my designs prior to going at it with the Sharpie.  I did find that big Sharpie mistakes could easily be scratched off.  Obviously the pencil didn't write great on the ceramic, but it gave me more confidence with my Sharpie tracing than free-hand.  You could also use transfer paper to get designs going, but I wanted to save the money.

This took a LONG time.  It was a meticulous design, but I actually got the inspiration from this Anthropologie mug.  For the second mug, I printed a sketch blog "R" on card stock.  I cut out the letter and traced it onto the mug.  Definitely not as involved as the first.  Also, beware where you hold the mug while drawing.  My fingers wiped off some of the Sharpie a few times before I realized it.  I do love how the design possibilities are endless!

That's it!  I did let the mugs sit overnight before immediately putting them in the oven; however I'm not sure that was necessary.  I totally dropped a mug while getting it out!  It fell on the coils (but didn't break) and left a darker silver line through my "R."  I just touched it up with Sharpie and baked it for another 10 minutes.  Voila!

To be fair, I don't know how these will hold up through washing.  Since they're gifts, I don't want to risk washing and having to completely re-do them.  The mugs alone recommend hand washing, so I think they'll be fine with gentle hand washes.  The Sharpie definitely stays to the touch after baking though.

I also added a sweet little touch to the mugs too :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Life Lately :: Productivity, health, & holidays.

Do those three things really go together in December?  Either way all of those things have been on my mind for the past two weeks.  I was a bit holiday obsessed for my last life lately post, and honestly nothing has changed.  This past weekend especially was insanely productive.  I also caught myself thinking a lot about how different this December is than last.  I'm healthy, and I want to be.  I'm working out most days of the week and making great food decisions.  These things have got me pretty excited about 2013 (and I've got a really fun idea I can't wait to reveal)!  Here's what I have been up to lately!

 [There has been a LOT of {adult} eggnog drinking and holiday movie watching around these parts.  And I'm in heaven.]

[Seriously this weather is fucking with my mind!  Cords, loafers & polo but bundled with a homemade scarf & big coat.  Then 70 degree weather last weekend.  Wtf?]

[I die.  The face on this one.  Love.  I could not stop laughing while holding her.]

 [It's not Christmas until you dress the cat up like Santa]

 [New Gap cords (best believe they were on sale WITH a thank you $70!) with my fav cheap F21 sweater - oh and the booties....with skinnies!  I'm not scared anymore {name that movie!}]

 [Festive socks & beer for cleaning and working]

 [Wrapping presents!  It's one of my favorite things!]

 [Gift DIY that was meticulous and took a LONG time.  I got better at it though.]

 [Perfectly cooked sweet potato & perfectly healthy lunch for my Sunday]

[More DIY!  I can't wait to share my tutorials!]

Friday, December 7, 2012

Food & Beer Friday :: A holiday beer!

I"m switching it up this week with a quick blurb and basic pictures.  December is getting the best of me.  I've got an endless to-do list that I am constantly adding to. Nonetheless, I couldn't disappoint with the winter beers this month!  Hope you find a new beer to try for brightening your holiday spirit!

At 5% alcohol, Shiner Holiday Cheer is definitely an easy drinking beer!  Personally it was my least favorite winter beer so far, although this could be blamed on the fact that it is not necessarily just an "ale."  Shiner characterizes this beer as a Bavarian dark wheat.  Wheat beers are way different than your typical spicy winter brew.  I would have never guessed this dark wheat is brewed with peaches and and roasted pecans.  I had no problem drinking the beer, but it wasn't what I had imagined.  This drink is super light (and definitely not as dark in color as my picture makes it's actually a lighter amber).  I would have preferred to try this beer in the fall when I'm not obsessing over stouts & spiced flavors.


Have you picked up any favorite winter beers so far?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Last week I mentioned I was participating in this awesome Elf4Health challenge.


The low down is that every two weeks (through January 6) I'm paired with an "elf."  There are daily challenges, and my elf is there to keep me motivated and hold me accountable.  I'm really happy to have gotten paired with Emily.  She knows all about teaching & the struggles you face being healthy while teaching.  Emily also just ran her first half marathon which makes me super happy!  Her blog is full of health and fitness tips & info, which I love.

Here is a recap of last week's challenges & how I stacked up.

Monday - Meatless Monday.  This wasn't too hard for me since I eat meatless most days, but I tried extra hard to make it a good one.

I started my morning with a smoothie (which is pretty typical these days).  My smoothies always consist of more veggies than fruit.  Lunch with a Whole Foods salad topped with protein-heavy egg salad & cashews.  I stocked up on WF's Super Food salad & a side dish of butternut squash with almonds & cranberries.  The main was a homemade black bean burger topped with guac & a dippy egg.  Rocked it.

Tuesday - Send a card to a friend.  It was definitely nice to be able to pull out a card and hand write a note.

I chose to send my card to Olivia who is such a style muse for me.  Girl is rocking her running game (and is signed up for her first half marathon this summer) and planning a wedding at the same time!

Wednesday - Try a new workout today.  Failed.  I had grand plans to hit a new spin class at the gym.  I overslept didn't get out of the bed.  BUT after getting home from a long day I had planned to not even do Ripped in 30.  I did end up doing it even if it was at 9pm (and after overindulging on some guac & chips).  So personal win overall.

Thursday -  Get up 15 minutes early to meditate and reflect.  Fail again.  No excuse for that one.  Although I did do yoga on Wednesday am.

Friday - Eat the rainbow.  

This is about as far as my rainbow got.  I hadn't gone grocery shopping & was working with what I already had.  My breakfast was pretty colorful!  My usual am smoothie + black coffee + a boiled egg.  I could have done better but ended up eating lunch at school & out to eat for dinner since we had a friend in town.

Weekend - Fill a bag with clothes to donate.  My preemptive New Years goal for January is to clean out my closet & get rid of stuff that doesn't even fit.  I have so much now that I can't wear that I don't know what I have that I can wear.   I figured I would get a head start on January and tackle one portion of my stuff.

All of my clothes are spread out between our master bedroom & our guest bedroom.  I tackled part of the guest bedroom on Saturday.  From just my tupperware shelves & shit that was thrown in the closet & on the chair, I collected two bags worth (plus a third that I plan to take to my sisters in Georgia).  I'm kind of scared that I had been hoarding this stuff for so long...and not to mention that I still had a lot that I kept!  It feels good having that stuff organized.  I know when January comes, it is going to be the best feeling getting rid of so much stuff.

I feel like this upcoming week is going to be a bit more of a challenge, but I want to one-up myself!  I'm looking forward to being healthy in new ways!


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