Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving Break Recap

So I decided to procrastinate a bit more and do my Thanksgiving break recap right now. So here we go!

Wednesday was supposed to be a really productive day for me. Was it? No, it wasn't, because I chose the Friday Night Lights crew over The Monk and Shattering the Stereotypes. I think y'all would probably do the same. I ended up finishing Season One on Thursday night so now I'm on a Friday Night Lights detox until December 12th. All I can say is that I want to be Tami Taylor when I grow up.

Thanksgiving started off bright and early with the 2012 TXU Turkey Trot benefitting Sheltering Arms Services. I was out of the house by about 6:30am, which meant I somehow found myself at the front of the starting line. With all of the people who run something like five-minute miles. I just trotted along and enjoyed the run - finishing at about 51:30. I was satisfied, and didn't feel quite as guilty about the large amount of turkey I consumed later that day.
The starting line
Williams Tower in Houston
Thanksgiving was just a great day all the way around. Some good food, good family time, good (and not-so-good) football games. I really wanted to do a post on all that I am thankful for but that ended up getting really long - which is not something to complain about - and I decided that I'll try to do a post like that as it gets closer to Christmas. All I know is that I'm pretty darn blessed!

Friday was another day full of football. It started at 1:00pm as my parents and I headed down the road to Stratford High School to send off the football boys as their bus took off for Reliant Stadium. They were set to play #1 state ranked Pearland Dawson at 4:00pm, and there was definitely some excitement in the air. The game was so much fun for me in the stands - though it stressed me out because both teams were back and forth the entire game - so I can only imagine how special it must have been to be playing in Reliant. What a cool thing these boys got to do. The boys played extremely well the entire game and though the scoreboard wasn't in their favor when time ran out, they have nothing to hang their heads about. I've mentioned it before, but there is something special about the Stratford community. The boys had so much support from parents, faculty, friends, and neighbors. My brother said that if it had to end, that was a pretty good place to end it. Well said!
His lovely sign, courtesy of Tri-Theta 
Before the game 
Travis, Graham, Daniel, and Ragan
Singing the alma mater after the game
I begged my parents to stop at Hungry's on the way home from the game because I was already tired of eating leftover turkey, and after a tough decision, I opted for the Veggie Black Bean Burger with a side of baked fries. It hit the spot. After all, Hungry's is probably my all-time favorite restaurant, so I couldn't come home to Houston without having it at least once!

Saturday and Sunday provided some time for me to relax, watch more football, and hit up some of my favorite restaurants. And maybe do some of the homework that I neglected all week. I met two of my best friends from high school for lunch at Ruggles Green in City Centre, and we ended up staying there for about three hours just talking, catching up, and planning some fun Christmas break adventures. I opted for the Veggie Nut Burger with a side of sweet potato fries and I ate every last bite. Apparently I just can't get enough of the burger and fry combo. Good food and good company - I am starting to see a trend here!

It was hard to come back to Austin knowing that I have a pretty tough couple of weeks ahead of me, but knowing that the next time I come home I will be free of any school work for a month is getting me through. I have lots of baking, reading, and Friday Night Lights watching to attend to!

4+ Mile Treadmill Workout and All That's Left

Not my most original title, but that's what I have for y'all today. This morning I attempted to wake up early and immediately start being productive. That meant I went and got the book I am using to write one of my remaining papers and promptly fell back asleep until 8am. That's what staying up until 12:30am talking and laughing with your roommate will do to ya. Anyway, I eventually made myself get up and start working before I hit the gym around 11am. I knew that a run needed to happen, but my legs were feeling sluggish. I got on the treadmill anyway and ended up cranking out 4.3 miles in about 36 minutes. Not too shabby! Here's what my run looked like this morning:

After the gym I walked over to HEB to get a jump start on a Secret Santa present, and as I headed to check out, I spotted this beautifully wrapped treat. I'm a sucker for cinnamon covered nuts, so I decided these were worth the splurge.

All That's Left

Yesterday during class - I'm bad about this - I made a list of all of the things that I have left this semester because upon my drive back to Austin after Thanksgiving reality hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized I have nine papers due between now and December 12th. I decided that I needed a tangible reminder of everything so that I didn't miss a due date or flat out forget to do something - not that I'm likely to do that, but you really never know.

Here is the final list, of all the school-related things I have left this semester. I am actually pretty darn proud of myself because I have already managed to cross off five of these things, and I should cross off two more by the end of today. Now that's what I call productivity!

I promise a Thanksgiving recap is coming - I can't promise that there will be much because the majority of what I did was watch football - either pro, college, high school, or fictional, but I ate at my favorite restaurants while I was home, so I have some food pictures to share with you guys, as per usual. I'm glad that taking pictures of my food in a public place no longer bothers me. I am also hoping to try a new recipe in the next couple of days so be on the lookout for that too. Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jumping Fence

Today I got managed to get myself to the gym to complete what I thought was going to be a five-mile run. After about 2.5 miles I was more than ready to quit, so I went and laid in the ab corner did some ab work before getting the strange urge to do some hill training. The MAC is conveniently located right next to my high school, so I made the decision to take the rest of my workout outside. Well, the main parking lot was completely blocked off, and though I saw people using the tennis courts, I couldn't figure out how to get through to the hill, so I decided I would try back later.
Feared it in high school, but now I enjoy taking my workouts here from time to time
Later rolled around and the parking lot was still blocked off, so I drove around for attempt number two at running the hill. Again, I saw a family playing tennis, and they informed me that I was going to have to jump the fence. I laughed as I did this because it reminded me of the time two of my friends and I climbed the fence and snuck into the Nottingham Forest Club, but that's a story for another time. I successfully made it over the fence and was met with this beautiful sight to aid me in my exercise endeavors.

It was the kind of night that made me want to freeze frame time - a colorful sky, a breathtaking sunset, and a slight breeze, what more can you ask for? Anyway, I trekked across the practice field to the dreaded hill and here is what my workout looked like:

I was surprised at how tired I was at the end of this workout. I was huffing and puffing but I loved it. I love workouts that challenge me and put a little variety into my workouts because that's what keeps me coming back for more. I anticipate many more workouts on this hill come Christmas break - suggestions are welcome!

10 Running Questions

Sorry I've been pretty MIA these past few days. I thought I was going to post more frequently since I have had a little break from my crazy schedule, but I have enjoyed resting, spending time with my family, and watching some great football games. I'll try to do a Thanksgiving recap in the next couple of days. Meanwhile, here's your weekly dosage of Survey Sunday, this time in running form. Enjoy!
  • Best Run Ever
My best race ever was the Disney World half marathon, and not necessarily because it was my favorite race - although who wouldn't love running through the castle? - but because I set a PR that morning. Granted, I had only ever run one half before that one, so it's not like I had many times to beat. But, I did run it in under two hours, which was my goal going into the race. I wish I was making the Disney trip again this year, but I have a race scheduled right in my own backyard this January!

I also really love the Blue Bell Fun Run in Brenham, Texas - I am already signed up for the 2013 race - because it is a tough, hilly run through one of my favorite towns in Texas, plus you get all you can eat ice cream at the finish. And I'll let you in on a little secret: I won first place in my age group in the 2011 race. True story!
Blue Bell Fun Run 2012
Murchison ladies
  • Three(ish) Words that Describe My Running
Stress-relieving, introspective, and rejuvenating
  • My Go-To Running Outfit 
A tank-top or drifit t-shirt, Nike Tempo running shorts, Asics padded running socks, Asics or Mizuno running shoes, and a headband of some sort to round out the outfit.
If it's cold outside, I'll throw on some capri pants and maybe some ear warmers because I'm a wimp when it comes to the cold weather.
Pretty typical race day outfit
  • Quirky Habit While Running
I don't know what my quirky habit while running is, though I'm sure there are many. If a good song comes on my iPod I'll start singing out loud, and I can't guarantee that I don't talk to myself while I'm running.
  • Morning, Mid-day, or Evening
Morning or evening. I feel better when I get my runs done in the morning, but when I run in the early evening, I always feel as though I can run forever.
  • I Won’t Run Outside When It’s
Summertime in Texas. The heat and humidity combination is a no-go for this girl. I make it about a mile before I'm walking and gasping for air. Can't run in the extreme cold and can't run in the extreme heat. Diva.
  • Worst Injury – And How I Got Over It
I hurt my back doing the 2012 Color Run (the day before my 20th birthday), and I was forced to sit out a few weeks of running. I was actually signed up to run the Austin half again, and though my back felt good enough to run a little bit at that time, I knew that pushing my body to get back in the game before it was ready was not my best idea. For the first couple weeks, running was not even an option and just walking to class hurt. I did a lot of laying in bed with a heating pad and some low-impact elliptical and bike workouts. I'm stubborn and refused to take any medicine, so my parents had little sympathy when I called them crying about how much my back hurt. Just kidding, they were very sympathetic about it, but they didn't quite understand my thought process on that one!
Color Run 2012 - after 
I'm smiling on the outside, but on the inside I'm praying I can just walk off the pain!
  • I Felt Most Like a Badass Mother Runner When
I dominated the Enfield hill on mile 12 of the Austin half marathon. I remember looking ahead and laughing when I saw that hill, but I conquered it and kept on truckin' to the end!
  • Potential Running Goal for 2013
With the completion of the Houston half in January, I will have completed one half marathon for each year of college. And though I will probably only run the one my junior year, I want to run at least two halves in the 2013 year.
  • Next Race Is
My next official race is the Houston half in January, but I have a few fun 5K's on my mind. 
Warrior Dash 2011 
Emily and I after a fun (and challenging) 5K race

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin in the Air

Happy Wednesday, aka first day of Thanksgiving break for many worn out students. Technically I should be sitting in my Literature of Islamophobia class right now, but my professor told us that if we had somewhere else to be, we could go guilt-free. So, I headed in the direction of home after my 11:00am class, and after a quick pit-stop at Buc-ee's, I was laying on my couch watching Friday Night Lights by 3:30pm. I am thankful that I hit hardly any traffic, and I am not at all ashamed to admit that I have watched six episodes since being home. It's getting really intense and I just can't get enough! My plan is that as soon as I finish season one, I won't watch anymore until Christmas break, so I might as well get as much done as I can while school isn't quite as pressing. Okay, it is pretty pressing but since I'm home, I feel like I can relax a tiny bit.

After one episode, I decided to partake in one of my favorite Houston activities - a walk around my neighborhood. The fact that the sun was setting made it that much sweeter - I absolutely love the time I get to spend at home with my family, and walking around my neighborhood seeing familiar faces is a great feeling.

After a shower, my dad and I headed up to CityCentre for dinner at one of our favorites - Cyclone Anaya's. Fun fact: Cyclone Anaya's was actually the first restaurant my dad ate at when he arrived in Houston however many years ago. We both opted for the fish tacos and they were delicious. Good food and even better company - a great start to what is going to hopefully be a relaxing break filled with great food.

This morning I woke up around 7:15am and, surprise, I watched an episode of Friday Night Lights while eating breakfast and getting ready for my 9am spin class at the MAC. I mentioned in an earlier post that Felipe's spin class is one of my favorite group exercise classes, but let me tell you, I am cursing Felipe every time he says "INCREASE!" Just kidding, I love Felipe and his class, and clearly everyone else does too because people are always fighting for a spot in his class, but I leave each class drenched in sweat. Nothing like a good workout to erase any fears of indulging in some delicious turkey day food.

I hit the grocery store right after the gym to get all the necessary ingredients to turn my kitchen into a Pinterest factory. I had pumpkin on my mind and therefore pumpkin was at the center of my baking endeavors. I started with some pumpkin bread that followed this recipe almost exactly, just with a very ripe banana taking the place of the sugar. I added some raisins and walnuts and obviously I really liked it because one of my mini-loaves is already gone. That quickly turned into lunch!

I then set out to make pumpkin pie spice almonds using this recipe. They smell excellent but I can't decide how I feel about their taste. They were something new, but definitely not one of the best things I've made. At least it smells good, right?
Before going in the oven 
After 18 minutes in the oven
And now I'm off to watch Friday Night Lights tackle the mountain of homework I have this week. Be sure to be thinking of all the things that you are thankful for!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The 11 Question Survey

Happy Sunday! I came home this weekend and surprised my brother at his first playoff game of his senior season. I figured they had a good chance of winning and moving onto the next round over Thanksgiving break, but he came to all of my playoff games my senior year, so I figured I should probably do the same. It was very cold, but a lot of fun! They won 56-14, and the next game is at RELIANT STADIUM the day after Thanksgiving. They are so excited, and even I can't wait! The football team lost a heartbreaker there my freshman year of high school, so I am hoping that this time we will come out victorious. 

I am headed back to Austin today to help my team move closer to winning that coveted intramural champion t-shirt. From Hawks to Horns? Anyway, here is a short survey for you to enjoy!

The 11 Question Survey

1. In baseball, each player gets a “walk up song” that plays on his way up to the plate. What song would you pick?
This is slightly embarrassing to admit, but probably something by One Direction or Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus because apparently I'm a teenage girl at heart. I just can't resist those belt-and-dance type of songs!

2. What’s the best thing that happened to you last weekend?
I surprised my brother by coming home for his first playoff football game - Go Spartans!

3. If you could have a starring role in any film already made, which movie would you pick?
I'd have to say the role of Sebastian Hastings (aka Viola Hastings) from She's the Man, because who could say no to sharing a room with Channing Tatum?
4. What actor/actress would you have play you in a movie of your life?
Either Blake Lively, Emma Watson, or Sandra Bullock. Kind of a smorgasbord of actresses, but I love them in the movies and in real life.

5. What is your favorite quote?
I have so many favorite quotes, but I'll go with the quote that I used in the yearbook my senior year:
"It's kinda fun to do the impossible" - Walt Disney

7. What was your first concert?
Besides the Houston Rodeo, Scream Tour. It's a great story that I'll have to share with you guys sometime.

7. What Internet website do you visit the most?
Yahoo or Twitter.

8. Which of Snow White’s 7 dwarfs describes you the best and why?
Either Happy or Bashful. I'm generally a pretty joyful person, but I am also a pretty shy person who likes to keep other people happy.
9. If you were on death row, what would your last meal be?
Probably the Veggie Nut Burger from Ruggles Green with a frozen yogurt parfait from Berripop for dessert.

10. What is the background of your computer?
My friend Emily and I overlooking Austin from Pennybacker Bridge.

11)  What is your favorite cartoon character and why?
Charlie Brown. Charlie and the rest of the Peanuts gang have stolen my heart! How can you not root for Charlie?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

God Bless America

I mentioned last Sunday that I was attending Young Life formal that night, and I gave a short snippet about it on Monday, but now that I have some more pictures to share with you guys, I'll describe it in more detail.
Natalie, Sarah, me, and Emily 

A lot of my roommates also went to formal, so we made sure to snap a few pictures of the time when we were all dressed up for once, instead of sporting our usual nike shorts and t-shirts. Well, maybe that's just me!

After some quick pictures, I headed out to meet up with my team so we could carpool out to Driftwood, Texas for dinner and the formal. We ate dinner at The Salt Lick, a legendary barbecue joint here in Austin, and it was phenomenal. It was my first time to eat there and I cannot recommend it enough - the food was delicious and the atmosphere was a lot of fun. I opted for the turkey sandwich, and though I started to get full after just half of it, it was too good to not finish. I was left feeling extremely full, but it was definitely worth it. I danced off the extra calories, anyway!
Amazing bread
Loaded turkey sandwich
Once we paid the bill, we headed about five minutes down the road to the Thurman Mansion and hit the dance floor immediately. I had a great time dancing with my team, my roommates, my small group, and other Young Life friends. The music was perfect to dance to - One Direction and Taylor Swift, anyone? It was really a great time and I was once again reminded of how great the Young Life community really is.
Alyssa, Aimee, me, and Kayla
The real us
The team minus Blaze and Wyatt

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bits and Pieces

Happy Monday! It is a beautiful day here in Austin, Texas, and though I will probably be tired of it in about a week, I am just loving the cool weather we have been blessed with today. There's a definite chill in the air, but the sun is still shining, making it very bearable to be outside. If only the weather could stay like this all winter!

Breakfast + Workout + Lunch

Since I went to sleep pretty late last night after formal, I was going to let myself sleep in a little bit before getting up to work on the homework that I neglected all weekend. I ate some almond butter granola for breakfast, worked on some homework while letting my breakfast settle, and finally hit the gym around 10:30am. 

I wasn't sure what I was in the mood for workout-wise this morning, and I eventually decided on my 39-minute hill workout. My speed on the hills varied a little bit from the first time I completed this workout, but for the most part it was pretty similar. I did end up completing a 10-minute cool down this time, bringing my total distance to just over five miles. Lately my runs have been between two and four miles because I have been focusing on increasing my speed, so it felt good to push myself a little bit this morning.

After a quick shower, I fixed myself some lunch before heading off to class. My lunch was pretty basic; I just sauteed some chicken and threw it in a bowl with lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, and salsa. Paired with a side of grapes and veggie chips, I enjoyed a pretty great lunch.

Young Life Formal

As I mentioned yesterday, we had our big Young Life formal last night at the Thurman Mansion in Driftwood, Texas. I will dedicate an entire post to this, but I'll leave you with a few fun pictures for now. One of my teammates has most of the pictures on her camera and she has a crazy week this week, so once I get those pictures, they will be shared with you all. I will say that it was a really great time and I realized just how wonderful it is to be part of this UT Young Life community. They did a great job with it and it was the perfect break from the craziness of school.

4/8 of the Clubhouse before formal
Patrick, me, and Aimee
Aimee and I love selfies
Wyatt, me, and Dylan

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Survey Sunday

Happy Sunday! And a Happy Veteran's Day to all those who serve and fight for this country every day. We salute you and are so thankful for all that you do. I apologize for keeping this survey pretty short, but it has been a crazy weekend!
Yesterday started out with a NCTCE conference in regards to Texas' recently acquired STAAR test. My teacher at Lake Travis thought it would be useful for me to attend, and it was very useful, though one teacher commented that by the time I am an actual teacher, it will probably be something different. The STAAR test is already so different from when I took the TAAS and TAKS test, so I can't even imagine what new thing they will come up with next.
After I returned home, I did a little bit of homework, a lot of baking, and a quick swim that functioned as my workout for the day. I fixed a quick dinner after returning home from the gym before getting ready for the night's festivities. Yesterday was my friend Emily's 21st birthday, and we hosted a surprise party for her at the Clubhouse. Emily and I were RA's together at SRD last year, and though I am not living with her this year, it is still good to get to see her and catch up. She is having a crazy year as a nursing student, so I think she really enjoyed the surprise. It was great to see some of my friends that I hadn't seen in a while - school and other activities can really keep you busy.
Emily and I on her birthday last year 
RA love 
So much love for these beautiful girls!
This Survey Sunday has unfortunately been filled with the homework that I neglected yesterday. I am hoping to get a good chunk of it finished before I head out to our Young Life formal tonight. My team is eating at The Salt Lick, and since I have never been there before, I am very excited. The theme is God Bless America, and it should be a lot of fun. I can't wait to share the pictures with you guys! Anyway, without further ado, here is your weekly dose of Survey Sunday.
 1.  Top Favorite Desserts
  • Frozen yogurt topped with all kinds of fruit
  • Vegan pumpkin bread with carob chips
2.  Top Favorite Spices To Use In The Kitchen
  • Garlic powder
  • Lemon pepper (does that count as a spice?)
  • Oregano
3.  Top Favorite Healthy Snacks
  • Apple and peanut butter
  • Homemade peanut butter and banana oatmeal bars
  • Kettlecorn / popcorn
1.  Top Favorite Treadmill Workouts
2.  Top Favorite Group Fitness Classes
  • BodyPump
  • Spin with Felipe
  • Core, Buns & Abs with Felipe
3.  Top Favorite Muscles To Work Out
  • Abs
  • Quads
  • Triceps
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday - I hope to check back in with a post about formal within the next few days!