A very Happy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Happy Inauguration Day to you all!  If you have today off, I hope you are enjoying it!  This morning’s gym crowd wasn’t a good indicator of how many businesses (non-government & non-education) are closed today.  I found this on Pinterest today and this is the exact “formula” I’ve always been taught and has always driven me in my profession and in my work to inspire students to serve:


How true.  Everyone’s special talents can be meant to help others.  It doesn’t have to be your stereotypical community service “helping” that we’re all familiar with (that are all much-needed and much-appreciated, of course!) – food pantries, yard work for senior citizens, rebuilding homes after a natural disaster. For instance, a very dear friend of mine and her mom are brilliant with words, understanding, and empathy.  Since my dad passed away, they have never failed to let my mom and me know we are in their thoughts.  Cards, text messages, and a simple G-chat just to say “Thinking of you today!” can bring people so much peace.

Your purpose does not necessarily mean “your profession”.  Your purpose is the piece of you that inspires others while making yourself feel complete.  There are even moments when I’m running along and cars pass me by when I think to myself that I hope the actions they are seeing me take inspire them to live a healthy lifestyle.  Maybe they see me running and think “Ugh, I really should go to the gym today” or “I’m going to start eating healthier”.  Ok, maybe it’s a stretch, but I do hope SOMEONE that has seen me running (or riding my bike) has decided to do something healthy that day.

Have you discovered your purpose(s) in life?  Sometimes I feel that we may not realize what our purpose is until someone else points out to else what we shine in.


Celebration Food, Part III

This post isn’t in chronological order since the dining experience occurred before the previous post…sorry 🙂

My 2nd birthday dinner took place at Gentelin’s on Broadway in Alton.  I’ve been here before (and loved it), but my mom hadn’t, so I thought it’d be a nice place for her to try.  Here’s their menu.

My mom had the Horseradish Encrusted Salmon.  She let me try a bite (obviously!) and it was delicious!  I’m not a fan of horseradish, but by baking it, the tartness of horseradish disappeared and made for a fancy addition to the salmon.

I chose the Porkloin with truffle whipped sweet potatoes, asparagus, and bacon w/stone ground mustard veloutte sauce.  I think the truffle whipped sweet potatoes sold me when I read the menu, and they certainly stood up to their reputation.  YUM-O!  It was a perfect entree, not too heavy, and plenty of leftovers!

My sweetie had the Black Bean Cakes…they were very tasty and had the perfect amount of spice!  I plan to attempt a recreation!

Dessert was a no-brainer.  My mom had the Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee and I had the Raspberry Sorbet (their only dairy-free option).  Naturally I sampled the creme brulee and it was amazing.  It’s so decadent and I love the crunchy, sugary topping. The sorbet reminded me of my childhood.  My mom bought raspberry sorbet every once in a while from the grocery store…it’s not something I had a lot of, but just one of those things that sticks with ya!

I was more than full after this birthday dinner.  Good thing I’ve been workin’ my butt off at the gym.  As much as I love trying new restaurants and splurging on yummy food, I’ll be glad to get back into my diet & routine!

Celebration Food, Part II

Post-birthday weekend ended with my last birthday dinner.  Since my birthday landed on Tuesday (my least favorite day of the week), we celebrated last night with a delicious dinner at Andria’s in Edwardsville.  It has a reputation for delicious food, particularly steaks.  The menu prices are well above our normal “dining out allotment” and, frankly, I felt guilty for spending that much on food, even if it was for my birthday.  BUT, rest assured, the food was worth the price.  We’d never been to Andria’s so we used my birthday as an excuse.  We’re the type of people that can get out of Fazoli’s, Qdoba, Crazy Bowls & Wraps, or Culver’s for less than $5 (with the help of coupons, of course).

We’re not really red meat people (we always gravitate toward chicken) so we decided to split 2 entrees: Filet Mignon w/Kristine Sauce (prosciutto & 3-cheese blend w/Sherry shallot demi-glace & shallot cream sauce) and the Chicken Supreme (pan seared served w/mushrooms in a tarragon & Sherry cream sauce).  If you glance at their menu you’ll notice their sauces have “people names”.  Interesting.  We each had a side of asparagus…you know, to get SOME kind of healthiness into our meal 😉

The food was phenomenal.  I haven’t had steak in nearly 8 years.  It’s not that I don’t like steak or red meat, but I just don’t prefer it.  I’m pretty sure as my half of the steak was digesting, my body was saying, “What is this?! IRON?! YAY!”  Granted, I’ve eaten red meat in the occasional ground beef or burger now and again, but not in the pure form of steak.

We opted out of dessert and headed home and I took a much needed “pre-bedtime” nap.  I guess that’s what happens when you turn 27…you need a nap before you go to bed. HA!

Before dinner, my mom dropped off some cupcakes from The Cup.  I can cross 2 more off my list!

Raspberry Beret


(Image source) 

I am a sure thing for raspberry desserts.  This particular cupcake was surely delicious, although I was hoping for a bit more “tang” from the raspberry filling.  Regardless, the french vanilla cake was refreshing against the raspberry buttercream and filling.  So yummy!  I can’t wait for the raspberry cupcake they bring out in May (topped with chocolate ganash).  Heaven.

Strawberries ‘n Cream


(Image source)

This one didn’t make my original list.  I’m not usually a fan of strawberry cakes, pies, or other desserts unless real strawberries are the star of the show, like with strawberry shortcake.  But my mom loves this one and wanted me to try it.  It did not disappoint.  It made up in tangy-ness that the Raspberry Beret missed.  Strawberry cake and strawberry buttercream, topped with and adorable strawberry accent…I hate to describe it as “precious”, but it was!  Very moist, sweet, but tangy.  Perfect with a cup of coffee!

Celebration Food

Happy weekend to YOU!  PHEW!  This past week was INSANE!  I don’t know how yours shaped up, but I was lucky to eat lunch (i.e. a walk-and-eat-snack) before 3pm.  It was the first week of the Spring semester…and as a student affairs professional, that meant our office was FULL of energy, students, needs, & wants.  A friend of mine asked me “what is it that makes you so busy during this time of year”…It took me a while to think about it.  It’s one of those jobs you have to experience…I couldn’t just list off things I’ve been consumed by.  My response, “I really have no idea half of the time…”  *sigh*

In other news, this weekend is my “pre-birthday weekend”.  I don’t ever celebrate “Birthday Week” or “Birthday Weekend” or “Birthday Month”.  I’m not 5. But  I won’t say no to friends that want to go out and use my birthday as an excuse! 😉  I met up with a friend for some delicious and much needed Mexican & margaritas!  Chips! Salsa! Beans! Rice! Corn cake! Cheese (I’m paying for this one…)!  It really hit the spot.

And for dessert…?

Salted Caramel Crunch

Image source: http://www.cravethecup.com

Um, yes.  Have you ever seen anything MORE delicious?  Oh. My. Goodness.  This Salted Caramel Crunch cupcake was DECADENT, delicious!, moist, sweet, salty, creamy…EVERYTHING you could ever dream of with a dessert.  Perfect.  Just perfect.  I could only eat half – I was so stuffed from supper.  It was a rich cupcake so I saved the other half for a nice treat with my hot cup of coffee this morning.  The salty burnt caramel sauce was fabulous.  It sent my tastebuds for a ride!  Yum, yum!

All that food was “erased” (I wish!) with a HARD Insanity workout this morning.  Max Circuit Training?  Loved it!  My body? Not so much, but it will be thanking me later.  Whew!

Goals, Hopes, Dreams, Wishes, etc.

‘Tis the season for…resolutions.  Ack.  I never make them.  Well, I do a quick reflection on what I’ve “let go” during the craziness of the year and what I need to “get back on the wagon” with.  I never make resolutions to lose weight, be healthier, go to the gym more, or run more.  I’m a firm believer that those are horrible resolutions.  You should make a commitment to be healthy every day, regardless of resolutions.  So you ate a cookie (or two) after lunch that your mean coworker brought in from their weekend holiday party.  Who cares!  Just go lighter on after-dinner snacks.  You missed a workout and hit the snooze button?  Sleep falls under the “health” category!  Seriously, I hate to hear about people completely giving up their favorite foods or killing themselves at the gym in an attempt to be healthy.  I don’t know about y’all, but if I gave up chocolate, my mental health would seriously decline.  Think about it…

In another world, and not on my soap box, I have a few goals I’m shooting for this year.  They are, in no particular order:

  1. Buy a new car.  Mine is 7+ years old, has well over 100,000 miles on it, and sounds SO tired and worn out when I turn her on.  Poor thing…I will be excited for the day when I don’t worry myself sick if I’ll make it to my destination without breaking down.
  2. Re-organize my finances.  I recently started investing for the purpose of retirement, emergency-only funds, and “in case I need a little extra for a vacation I just can’t turn down”.  I used to stick to my monthly budget to the cent!  Every month I’d add in my grocery, gas, and other receipts to see where all my money went and what I need to cut back on.  Last year’s unending craziness caused me to “let that one go”…getting back on it.  I’m pretty tight with my money, so this is just more of a control-freak thing of mine…
  3. Also related to finances…get back to my couponing/sale shopping.  I am not a coupon lady (gosh, those people are so annoying) and, to be honest, I can’t use many coupons because the products I purchase never have coupons.  P&G doesn’t exactly have a coupon for 5 lbs of carrots or 2 bags of spinach 🙂  But occasionally, I’ll be able to match up a good deal on TP, cleaning supplies, or random “treats” that I won’t buy without a coupon (or coupon-sale match-up!).  Do I save THAT much more money?  Probably not, since I usually end up going out of my way/going to the store more often to get the deal.  Oh well…I’m a sucker for the Placebo Effect!
  4. Continue the Great Cupcake Challenge.  Obviously.
  5. RUN!  Ok, I’m cheating on this one.  I’d do this anyway.
  6. Marathon: Currently choosing between 3 (in the fall)…and would appreciate your feedback on ANY of them.  They are listed in the Upcoming Races section.
  7. Read more.  Seriously.  I haven’t read a book since June.  I try, I really do.  I pick up the book and climb into bed.  And the next thing I know, I wake up to turn the lights off and brush my teeth.  I’ve been told I’m a “high functioning” adult…which in mental health “speak” means I don’t know how to relax without falling asleep…or I don’t find time to relax until I’m so exhausted I pass out and begin drooling.  Ok, I don’t drool, but I have been known to pass out mid-sentence (whether I’m telling the story or listening to the story).
  8. Watch more movies.  I’m a sucker for TV.  Really.  My TV shows in my calendar and my colleagues & I bond over TV reviews.  My DVR & I are best friends.  But movies and I don’t get along.  Reference #7.  I get bored.  I fall asleep.  I can’t JUST watch a movie.  My laptop has to be on my lap.  100% attention will NEVER be given to a movie.  I’m a movie narcoleptic – my personal record is 10 minutes into the movie.  Lately I’ve been making it to the last 15-20 minutes of the movie.  Progress.
  9. Avoid the scale.  Yup. I haven’t weighed myself since before November.  And I am loving it.  I was beginning to have an unhealthy relationship with numbers.  Even though I know 1 lb of muscle weighs more than 1 lb of fat.  I kept going back to the thought of “I was my happiest when I weighed 1xx lbs”.  But my body was so different then.  I’m learning to trust myself and trust my body.  I get in 5-6 solid rock-star workouts per week and consider real yogurt (dairy-free!) a treat.  So yeah…I’m pretty sure my scale is not a good evaluation of my health.
  10. Communicate/reach out to friends.  I really let this one slip last year.  I’m giving myself a “get out of jail free” card since I feel I had every right given the circumstances.  But I feel better when I maintain relationships (so long as they are not one-sided).  It helps my life-satisfaction level…even if I do prefer my dog’s company to a majority of the population.
  11. Get strong!  I’ve already noticed an increase in ability during my workouts from a year ago.  I can lift heavier weights (even if it is only 3 more lbs!) and I feel sturdier and more stable.  It’s a good feeling.

What are YOUR goals for the year?  Are any of mine the same as yours?

Catching Up

Hey y’all..Please excuse my blog absence (again, and again, and again…).  I’ve been having trouble getting my thoughts down lately.  I have a lot to say (trust me!) and a lot on my mind and a lot of things I want to write about…but when the little cursor is staring at me and blinking incessantly, I retreat to mind numbing activities like Facebook, reading others’ blogs, Pinterest, Gmail, and staring at my Google calendar so that it will be burnt into my brain.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and I hope your New Year is off to a smooth start!

My holiday season was a little lackluster (dealing with the year of “firsts” after my dad’s death) and sad.  It’s always when I have an emotional “lapse” that I realize I’m not as fine as I tell myself.  The question I still struggle with is “How much longer until Christmas doesn’t suck?”.  Intelligent & educated thought, right? HA!  I haven’t decided if our culture’s way of dealing with death and grief is helpful or a hindrance – returning to work after 1 week of bereavement leave and plugging along as best as possible until you get to run home, put on comfy jammies, and surround yourself with comforts that either 1.) make you feel better, or 2.) make you forget your sadness.  At times I feel that plugging along with daily routines and my job keeps my mind busy.  Other times I feel like it’s only a quick-fix…a “Tylenol”, if you will, that’s just covering it up.  Any psychologists out there know the answer to this?  Of course, I know there IS no right answer…it’s a balance of ebbs & flows.  But still…something to ponder.
In happier thoughts, I can cross another cupcake off my Challenge list.

Peppermint Stick

Image source: http://www.cravethecup.com

A red velvet & peppermint swirled cake (YUM) with vanilla mint buttercream frosting topped with mini white chocolate chips, pearl sprinkles (I need these), and a mini candy cane.  It was so beautiful I felt bad digging in to it.  But, far be it from me to let a sweet treat go to waste!  It was perfect.  I need to get my hands on some pearl sprinkles/chocolate chips.  Absolutely divine!  A big thank you to my coworker for bringing it in to work on our last day of work for 2012.  I was #1 on her 26 Acts of Kindness that she did in honor of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Also related to food…Lots of recipes were tackled over my “university holiday closure” break…here are a few of my favorite:

Holiday Confetti Cake Batter Cookies!

Confetti Cake Batter Cookies

Candy Cane Snowballs...these cookies are awesome

Candy Cane Snowballs

My FAVORITE cookie this year.  I added Andes white chocolate peppermint bits instead of the crushed candy canes inside the dough…winner!

Slutty Brownies (seriously…amazing)

And...Trisha Yearwood’s Strawberry Spinach Salad

Sorry for no picture with the salad…who wants to look at a salad when I posted food porn…I mean…pictures of yummy sweets instead! 🙂

Up next: 2013 goals. WOO!