Monday, March 17, 2014

Billion Dollar Bracket

Happy Monday! What started off as a cold, cold morning here in Austin turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day. It's still a little bit chilly for my liking, but we are supposed to be in the 80's tomorrow, so I guess I can deal with a few more hours of cold weather.

Today was my first day back from spring break, and I am not going to lie, when my alarm sounded at 5:39am, I was not necessarily feeling like hitting the gym. However, I knew I would feel better once I did, so I sleepily changed into shorts and a t-shirt and completed this 45-minute treadmill workout. I am almost ashamed to admit that I haven't run since last Friday (as in, March 7th), so my legs were falling a little bit behind on those speeds, but I managed to keep up and finish out the 5.4 miles strong.

I went home to shower and get ready for school, and I am also not going to lie and say that I was eager to get back up to Westwood today. That break was just so nice, but once I got there, I was happy to be there. Like I said yesterday, we are starting to read A Midsummer Night's Dream, and I am planning to put the students in some fun costumes to get them into the spirit of the play. I am sure the boys will be so eager to wear glittery fairy wings! And I got to ease myself back into the school schedule as I left a couple of hours early to take something over to the Round Rock Administration Office to finally solidify my substitute teacher status. It's about time!

March Madness

Now I am just relaxing until I leave for YoungLife tonight, but my whole reason for this post is to talk about the excitement that is March Madness. I love March Madness, and I love creating my bracket, though it always ends up getting so busted. This year, however, I'm feeling really good about my picks. I was a little bit heartbroken to see that Texas and Duke would have to duke it out in order to advance, but I don't even have Texas going far enough to meet them. Oops. I consulted a few outside sources before finalizing my picks, but I think I have picked the billion dollar bracket. I'm kidding, of course, but I'm hoping to do a little bit better than I did last year.

I was pretty back and forth on a few of the picks, as UNC and Syracuse are never teams to take lightly, and there were just a few match-ups that could really go either way. I also tried to pick a couple of upsets because they happen every year, but I often just look foolish when the 4 seed tramples the 13 seed that I picked to upset. But no matter what happens, it's sure to be a fun few weeks!

Candy Madness

In addition to the real March Madness bracket, I stumbled upon this parody bracket that asks you to pick the winning candy. I filled it out according to my own preferences, and after a lot of back and forth, I picked Nestle Crunch to be the winner. It just has such a good crunch flavor, you know?

Disclaimer: I filled this out according to my likes and preferences prior to becoming lactose intolerant. I realize that I can no longer eat a lot of these candies, but chocolate will trump regular candy almost every single time in my book (clearly).

I love filling out these fun brackets, so if you come across anymore of them, please send them my way! And have a fabulous rest of your Monday!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Get Your Rear in Gear

Happy Sunday! So, remember that promise I made in my last post? About how I would post every day of the remainder of my spring break? Well, that clearly didn't happen yesterday. I'm turning into an unreliable narrator, but I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me (and to keep reading)!

Anyway, after a lazy Saturday, I am trying to mentally prepare myself for a full week of school and YoungLife craziness. Friday is YoungLife Placement Night, when hundreds of new leaders will say yes to reaching out to middle school and high school kids in the greater Austin area, so this week will not only feature the start of A Midsummer Night's Dream in the high school world, but learning the choreography to a dance that we will perform before we welcome the new leaders to our area. A crazy week is the perfect welcome back from spring break, right?

Placement Night 2012
Placement Night 2013 
Placement Night 2013
Moving on, I have a 5K run/walk to share with all of you Austinites! Ryan Murray, the director for this non-profit cancer charity 5K, reached out to me about spreading the word about this 5K as part of Colon Cancer Awareness Month, which is March, for those of you who might not have known (I sure didn't).

On Sunday, March 30th, 2014, over 500 runners, walkers, and volunteers will gather  to raise awareness about the nation's number 2 cancer killer, and raise funds for colon cancer prevention screening awareness. This all-volunteer events will include opportunities to celebrate survivors, show support for the care givers, and remember loved ones who are no longer with us.

The opening ceremony will kick off the day's events at 8:00am, followed by a speech by a colon cancer survivor, the Kids' Fun Run for children aged 12 and under (make it a family event!), and finally, the 5K run and walk will begin at 8:30am. And not only are you raising awareness and providing support for a great cause, you will also have the chance to win awards, prizes, and giveaways upon completion of the race. For those of you who are looking for a little spring motivation, this fun and awareness-raising 5K is right up your alley. So, get your rear in gear and find a training program that works with your schedule. This is one race you will certainly want to do, as seventy-five percent of the funds raised at this event will stay in the Austin area, helping with awareness, early detection and prevention, and healthy living projects for this disease. More information can be found here, and registration information is available online here.

Grab a friend and add this 5K to your calendar. It's sure to be worth your while. And have a great Sunday evening - I hope to check in with you guys again soon!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Things I'm Loving Friday

You would think that a week of no real commitments, no school, and essentially no work to do would allow me to post regularly on this thing. That is clearly NOT the case, as I have enjoyed just lounging around and really not doing much of anything. I have felt a little bit guilty about neglecting this little blog, so I promise to post every day for the rest of spring break (quite the commitment, I know).

Anyway, to prevent myself from doing a long-winded catch-up post, here is another rendition of "Things I'm Loving Friday."
  • Friends and Fro-Yo
One of the greatest things about being home is getting to see some of my high school friends. It's gotten more and more difficult over the years to see many of them on a regular basis, just due to being in different cities and having different breaks, so when Lindsay, who goes to Rice University, said she was free on Monday night for dessert, I jumped on the opportunity to see her. While I devoured my $8.00 frozen yogurt, she enjoyed two very unique ice cream flavors from The Chocolate Bar. Good food, and even better company.

  • Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz is one of my childhood favorites. I grew up watching the movie, and when my high school did the musical, I fell in love all over again. So when I saw that the Wizard of Oz would be performing at the Hobby Center through Theatre Under the Stars, or TUTS, I knew I was going to have to go. I put on my red heels, and Dylan and I were in our seats just as the lights were going down. Perfect timing! I thought the cast did a great job, and Toto really stole the show.

  • New Restaurants
Before the Wizard of Oz, and because we were all dressed up, we of course had to go to a fancy-ish dinner. We decided to try a new-to-us and a new-to-City Centre restaurant - Season's 52 - and I cannot say enough good things about it. We started off with the (dairy-free) chicken and pesto flatbread and edamame, and we both agreed that the Japanese green tea salt that came with the edamame really stole the show. For our entrees, we both ordered something with salmon (because Dylan is conquering his fear of seafood), and they were both fabulous. Season's 52 gets two thumbs up from this girl!

Lemongrass Salmon Salad
Cedar Plank Salmon
  • Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Round two of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo happened on Wednesday night. For Valentine's Day Dylan got me two tickets to Jake Owen, so we traded in our nice clothes for some western attire, and we battled traffic on the way to Reliant Stadium. We once again timed our arrival pretty perfectly, arriving with just enough time to eat dinner, and make our way up to our seats to watch the barrel racing, chuck wagon races, bull riding, calf scramble, and my favorite, mutton bustin'. Jake Owen put on a great show, and this was the first time I had ever seen a performer just walk out to the stage instead of taking a car.
  • Funnel Cake, Ferris Wheels, and Bumper Cars
We made the most of our time at the rodeo by hitting the carnival after the concert. We made a beeline for the funnel cake, because Dylan had never had one before, and it's been years since I've had one, and ate that before taking it back a couple years and demolishing some kids on the bumper cars. I made us ride the ferris wheel, because I love the aerial view you get of the entire carnival, and we rounded out the night by winning a sock monkey that is easily four feet tall.

  • Hammocks and Sunsets
I had a little bit of time to kill before meeting Lindsay for frozen yogurt, so I took my hammock and a new book and set up shop at Hermann Park. I was afforded this beautiful view, and it made me appreciate where I'm from all the more.

And on that note, I'm off to watch some Texas basketball with my mom. I'm headed back to Austin tomorrow morning, so I'll see you guys from the ATX!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

45-Minute Treadmill Workout

Happy Sunday from my couch in Houston! I got done with school at 4:10pm on Friday, and I was in my car by 4:13pm. I didn't head straight to Houston, as I wanted to wait out some of the traffic (ha!), but I was on the road by 6:15pm, and after some traffic leaving Austin, and a quick stop at Buc-ee's, I was pulling into my driveway by 9:15pm.

I spent most of yesterday in downtown Houston, as Gayle and I went to our 11th straight rodeo performance together. It has been about 9 months since we had spent any sort of extended time together, so it was such a treat to get to catch up on our semesters while continuing one of our favorite traditions.

We even managed to beat the rain home!

Today was kind of a gloomy day in Houston, so I spent most of the day relaxing and reading. One of my students said her goal is to read at least eight books this break, so I am trying to read at least two or three!

I don't have much to share with you guys right now, but I did complete a new treadmill workout before school on Friday morning. I adapted it from, guess who, Peanut Butter Fingers, and it was another good one - alternating walking and running so that you never get bored.

I'll check back in with y'all tomorrow. Enjoy your evening!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday Round Two

Two posts in one day - I'm not sure what has gotten into me! But in an effort to make up for all of the days there hasn't been a post, and to combat the cold and dreary weather that has me wanting to do nothing more than lounge around my house, I present you with two posts in one day. How lucky can y'all get?

I have probably posted some variation of this survey in the past, but it has been a while since I've posted any sort of survey, so when I saw this survey posted by Peanut Butter Fingers, I knew it would have to make a blog appearance this Sunday. So, without further ado, here's a little bit about me.
  • What was your go-to food or snack as a child?
I was the world's pickiest eater as a child, so I pretty much lived on Spaghetti-O's and Apple Juice. And not only did I drink canned Apple Juice, but I would only drink it warm. Appetizing, right?

  • What got you interested in health/fitness?
As someone who has played sports her (I love referring to myself in the third person) entire life, I've always been interested in health and fitness, but I really became interested in it once my volleyball career came to an end. I'll be honest - it grew mostly out of a fear of gaining weight and getting out of shape due to not having a sport to play, but now it's such a huge part of my life that my day doesn't feel complete without some sort of exercise, and I love being able to work towards a new goal.

  • You’re stuck on an island for a month and can only eat three foods. What would they be?
Talk about a tough question! I'd have to say apples, my banana-oatmeal-almond butter muffins, and carrots+hummus (that can count as one food, right?).

  • Favorite and least favorite body part to train?
Favorite = Legs
Least favorite = Triceps
  • Favorite and least favorite health or fitness fads?
I don't think I have a favorite health fad, and as far as fitness fads go, I'm not a huge crossfitter (and I don't have much room to talk because I've only done it once or twice), but I would like to learn how to implement TRX into my workouts.
Least favorite = I'll copy this answer and say the whole low/no carb thing. I'm certainly not about it. I heart bread!

  • What is the hardest workout you have ever done?
Yet another tough question! I honestly don't think I can answer this question, because I've done a bunch of hard workouts, and though I curse them while I'm doing them, I secretly love them. One workout in particular that comes to mind is the Insanity workout at Lifetime Fitness. That one is KILLER, especially when you haven't done those kinds of plyometric movements in a while (four years, give or take).
  • What is the first movie that made you cry?
Wow, I don't even know! I cry in a lot of movies so I really couldn't tell you what the first movie that made me cry was. I will say that I even cried while watching Cheaper by the Dozen, so I'm not entirely sure what that says about me.
  • Your #1 pet peeve?
Tardiness. This answer will likely never change.
  • Your dream job?
Talk about good timing for this question, as I have less than three months until I graduate college and make my grand entrance into the real world. I do want to be a teacher, but I don't think it's what I will do forever. Obviously, I love writing, creating healthy recipes, and fitness, so I would love some sort of job that incorporates all three of those things. And if we're talking dream job, something that allows me to travel would also be ideal.
  • Freckles or Dimples?
I've got one dimple on the left side of my face (which might be why I prefer my left to my right), and I find dimples to be the cutest part of someone's face. And I never had many freckles as a child, despite always wishing I did.

Dimpled pair

And I cannot end this post without a HUGE HUGE HUGE congratulations to my roommate and fellow future English teacher, Sarah, who got ENGAGED yesterday. She and Patrick have been dating since high school, and though I have only met him a few times, I absolutely love the two of them, and I could not be more excited for their future lives together. Froomies!

Mango Shrimp Dish

Happy Sunday! Sorry that it's been a week since I've last posted, because although this week wasn't quite as busy as other weeks have been, I was out of commission for a couple of days due to a lingering cold. My head felt as though it weighed about 100 pounds on Tuesday night, but I have felt significantly better with each passing day, so I'm almost completely back to normal by this point.

And again, I won't bore you with a day-by-day recap of this past week (not that much happened, aside from going to school during the day and lying in bed with my computer open in front of me in the evenings), but instead I will share a newly created recipe with you guys, and I'm anticipating it to be a great one. And if it doesn't taste great, at least it's colorful!

  • Mini peeled shrimp (amount varies)
  • 1 bag brussels sprouts
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 squash
  • 7 thin asparagus spears (or more depending on your preference)
  • 2 top-fulls of peanuts
  • 1 tomato (sliced)
  • 1/4 onion (sliced)
  • 1/4 mango (sliced)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Rosemary
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2. Slice and chop zucchini, squash, brussels sprouts, peanuts, and asparagus, and place in a large bowl
  • PEANUTS NOTE: I simply take the top off of the container of peanuts and pour two rounds of peanuts into it

3. Cover with olive oil, lemon pepper, and rosemary, and stir until everything is well-coated

4. Spread vegetables in a foil-lined baking pan sprayed with cooking spray

5. Slice onion, tomato, and mango and sprinkle over vegetables

6. Spread shrimp evenly on top of the fruit and vegetables

6.5 (Optional) Sprinkle additional lemon pepper on top of shrimp
7. Cook for 28 minutes in the oven
8. Enjoy!

This was such an easy dish to prepare, and it was perfect for using up all of my leftover ingredients before I head home for spring break next week. I can't wait to eat it (topped with salsa, of course)!

Have a great rest of your Sunday. It's cold and rainy here in Austin, though it started out hot and humid, dropping 20 degrees in just 30 minutes. Not the ideal Texas Independence Day weather, but hey, it's still a great day nonetheless. To quote a line from one of my main men right now, John Steinbeck, "Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word." Texas Forever, right?