Friday, December 23, 2016

Things I'm Loving Friday L

Happy FRIDAY! Can you believe there are only TWO days until Christmas (if you celebrate Christmas, that is)? And if you celebrate Hanukkah, it's even closer. Time is absolutely flying, and I'll admit that while I don't have all of my Christmas shopping done yet, and I certainly don't have all my wrapping (aka stick the present in a Christmas bag and add some decorative tissue paper) and card-writing done, I'm almost there. And I plan on getting it totally finished today. I did some major gift-giving last week when I was delivering baked goods to all my teacher friends, and baking out the wazoo for my students because that's the deal I have with them -- every semester when final exams roll around, I'll reward their hard work with baked goods. They particularly enjoyed the slutty brownies.

But as much as I enjoyed baking for my students, I have more than enjoyed this break. I am batting 1,000 when it comes to naps, and I have already finished reading four books. I've caught up with friends, I've run quite a few miles, and I have spent some quality time with my precious pup. And now, it's time for another round of Things I'm Loving Friday.

Daring Greatly
I read Brené Brown's Rising Strong this past summer, and I have listened to a few of her TED talks, and I fell in love with her outlook and perspective on how we live our day-to-day lives. I was a little out of order, but I picked up Daring Greatly at Brazos Bookstore while doing some birthday shopping for my dad, and I finished it three days. Embracing vulnerability is what this one is all about, and she talks a lot about the difference between guilt and shame. I found so many points that are applicable in the classroom, and I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to live a wholehearted life.

Chocolate Pretzel Bites
If you're looking for an easy, last-minute, aesthetically pleasing and also tasty treat to bring to your family Christmas, look no further than these chocolate pretzel bites. You'll probably spend more time arranging the pretzels and unwrapping the Hershey's Kisses than you will putting on the M&M finishing touch. All you need are a bag of window pane pretzels, Hershey's Kisses (or Hugs or holiday-themed Kisses), and holiday-themed M&M's. The beauty of this dessert is that it's customizable to any holiday. You unwrap a Hershey's Kiss, place it on top of the pretzel, and stick it in the oven heated to 350 degrees for two to three minutes, or until the Kisses begin to melt. As soon as you take them out of the oven, press down with an M&M so that the chocolate covers the pretzel. And that's it! They make a nice appearance, and you can make a lot of them in a small amount of time. And the best part is, all there is to clean up are the Hershey's Kisses wrappers. I'll take it. 

Anthropologie Golden Monogram Mug
I was (secretly) super bummed last semester when a student reached over my desk and accidentally shattered my golden "K" mug. It wasn't that it was worth a lot of money -- I got it for only $8, but I knew that because it was limited edition, I wouldn't be able to replace it. I don't drink coffee or tea, but I like to use mugs to hold my various pens, pencils, and 
highlighters, which is why it sat on my desk at school. So when I saw the email from Anthropologie that announced the return of these limited editions mugs, I jumped right on it and got myself a new one. TBD if I am going to bring it to school with me.

Josh Groban's 'O Holy Night'
Hands down my favorite Christmas song of all time. There were days when I listened to this song on repeat the entire drive to school. His voice is magical, and it's somewhat fitting that my favorite line of the entire song is "a thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices." I think we can all agree that 2016 has left us a little weary, and we'll take any ounce of hope that we can get going into 2017.

Cherry Glacier Gatorade Frost
I was never a big Gatorade drinker growing up. I really only started drinking it within these last couple of years because I'm the world's saltiest sweater, and I needed something to replenish the electrolytes I was losing while running. And I was always really grateful that yellow Gatorade is what is on the majority of race courses, because I thought that was the only flavor I liked. Rewind to a few months ago when the JV girls gave the freshmen girls a "Beat Lamar" basket, and in it was this Cherry Glacier Gatorade Frost. I put it in my refrigerator, not giving it a second thought until I came home from an exceptionally tough Sunday run and this was the only thing in the fridge. It was love at first gulp, and now it's my go-to flavor when stocking up on Gatorade. It sure has come in handy in these 70-degree December temps.

Define: Bounce
So, my last post saw me mentioning that I was hoping to do something this Christmas break besides just run, and though I have mainly stuck to running and walking my dog, I decided to give the Define studio just a ten-minute walk away a chance. The first class is free, and I wanted something that would be both low-impact - my shins have taken a beating - and fun. I contemplated taking a Body Pump class, but I knew that would leave me feeling so sore that my Thursday tempo run would suffer. I checked the Define website, and saw that there was a bounce class happening Wednesday morning, and for those of you who know me, you know that I love a good trampoline session. I was a little nervous when I got to the studio and I was told that this class was all about staying with the rhythm of the music because I've got very little rhythm. I ended up absolutely loving the class - the 45 minutes absolutely flew by, and my entire body got a workout. It may be low-impact, but it's seriously high in intensity, and FUN!

The Stretch Factor

The only downside I see to this place is that it's a little bit of a drive for me, as it is located in Katy, Texas. It's easy enough for me to hop on the Westpark Tollway all the way there, and it's also an excuse for me to stop by my parents' house, as they live smack dab in the middle. This place, which just recently opened its doors, was introduced to me by a teacher at school. He's the same one who is kicking my butt with this running plan he has me on, but he promised me that this place is the real deal. And after just my introductory session, I was hooked. I practically floated off the table. Seriously. I'm notoriously bad about stretching, and I definitely don't place enough emphasis on it even though I know I should. The Stretch Factor is 30 minutes (or an hour) of personalized stretching that I could absolutely not achieve on my own. They focus on your individual needs as an athlete and a human being, and target areas that will help you to maximize your performance and get the most out of your life. I've chatted with both Ryan S. and Ryan T., and they have been nothing but helpful and knowledgeable. Because I am running with more focus and more intensity, I see this as another step in the run and recovery process. Anyone can benefit from a visit to The Stretch Factor, so take advantage of that free 30-minute consultation!

And on that note, I'm off to get some stuff done around the apartment. It's a wet morning here in Houston, so it's perfect for crossing a few things off the to-do list. Have a great one!

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