Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Directions

Resolutions are cliche... but I think I need to do some anyway. I need some direction for 2011 and posting them here will help me remember them. When thinking about where I want 2011 to take me, I know that I don't want to make arbitrary wishes for the upcoming year that would be lost in shades of gray and forgotten by March. Therefore I came up with some basic ground rules for myself. I want my goals to be attanainable, practical, and more than that- measureable. I want to come back on December 30, 2011 and evaluate myself and how I did, so her we go!

1. Get back into running: Too vague as it is, so the measureable portion of this goal will be to run a 10k and a half-marathon this year. The 10k will most likely be in the spring, then the half will be in the fall. I started training again last night and it took me 20 minutes to run 1.5 miles. EMBARASSING!!! I guess that's what happens when you abandon your $100 running shoes for three months, but I will do this.

2. Eat more vegan meals: I call this the two-thirds rule. I want 2 out of 3 of my daily meals Monday through Friday to be vegan as much as possible. So on "normal" days (meaning I'm not out of town or somewhere it's just not feasible to eat vegan), I will follow this rule as much as possible. Now I will say that I'm mainly talking about dairy here, so if an egg finds its way into my lunch, it's no big deal. I don't think I'll ever become full vegan because I have no moral opposition to consuming ethically harvested eggs and dairy. In fact, if the whole world stopped eating those two items, cows and chickens would go extinct. They cannot survive away from humans. However, I think the extra fat I get from dairy wreaks havoc on my body. I feel like a mostly vegan diet would help me reach my weight loss goals, focus my attention on plant based nutrients, sever my addiction to cheese, and just feel "cleaner."

3. Read my bible cover to cover: I probably have read the entire thing in pieces (I grew up in the church after all), but I've never read it through front to back. I need to spend more time on my spiritual life and my relationship with God, and I think this is a no pressure way to do it. My goal will be to read a little each night, and have the entire book finished by the end of the year. If there are some nights I can read more, great. If there are some nights I read one chapter, that's fine too. I just hope I'm not frantically trying to read all of the New Testament in two weeks next December, ha ha!

4. Reach my goal weight with Weight Watchers and make it through the maintenance period: I haven't been updating much about my WW journey, but I will go ahead and tell you that I gained 7 pounds in 7 days while I've been home. Not cool. But what was cool is how I reacted to it. I sucked it up, tracked it, and moved on. So my graph now shows I'm over my starting weight by 3 pounds? Who cares. Don't cry about it, fix it. And I'm now doing just that. Hopefully goals 1 and 2 will contribute to this, but I really need to buckle down and PLAN AHEAD when it comes to my daily meals!!!

5. Become certified to teach Physics and start a Masters program in Curriculum and Instruction: It's time I pushed myself a bit in my career, and this will be the year for that. I will be re-taking the physics praxis this summer, and I'm fully confident I will pass after having the chance to teach the class. My Masters program will start in the fall, and I'll use this spring and summer to decide where it will take place.

Alrighty then! I think five goals will suffice for now. I'll be sure to keep blogging as my one year blog-iversary is coming up very shortly! Hopefully I wont be so busy this spring that I can't touch base every now and then. I hope you all have a great New Years and enjoy the blank slate that is 2011!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Darling!

After a brief date with an elliptical machine, packing up the car, and getting the animals ready to go, Robert and I will be headed to Virginia to see this... (JOWLS!!!) 
Along with the other five equally adorable, slightly less fat, nieces and nephews, and a few myriad adult friends and family members to boot. I am sorry to say I don't know how much blogging will ensue, but I promise to do a recap on my return after the new year. 

Before we leave though, I'm going to dedicate the last blog post of this year to the one person that has changed my life forever in more ways than I could have dreamed. Robert Ashby- This one's for you. (And I'll keep it light-hearted and wise-cracking for you non-sappy types. No worries.)

According to the national average, men do 1/3 of the housework in domestic situations. My husband blows this out of the water completely by doing approximately 99.6% of the housework, including occasionally driving me to school when my gas light is on so he can fill the tank up once he's dropped me off. Never mind that he could have been stranded in Karns suburbia... He made it ok. (Yes, that would be the gas gauge range in the photo below.)

Or accompanying me to the doctor's office when I'm slowly smothering to death from blocked sinuses, then taking pictures of me on his cell phone without my knowledge or permission. Gah, I am so beautiful here, I tell ya! 

He's not all pranks though. When we go grocery shopping, he likes to write romantic "backward z" graffiti in the frozen foods section. Awww! I love you too honey. :)

For Christmas, instead of diamonds or perfume, I get trips to beautiful bed and breakfasts with down comforters, fireplaces, satellite television, and a jacuzzi tub. This was our present to each other this year! Braeside Inn in Pigeon Forge- we HIGHLY recommend it! We spent Tuesday through Thursday of this week there and had the best time.

Robert found this little gem all on his own and proceeded to thieve my snuggie and read for a large portion of our time there. It's ok... I did the same thing. Finally finished Pride and Predjudice!

 My beloved takes me to Pigeon Forge for barely vegetarian friendly lunch at the Old Mill, 

and buys season tickets to Dollywood with me so that we can come back and laugh at the "I gotta pee!" reindeer all year long.

And best of all... Robert rides roller coasters with me despite the fact that they make him look like this...

A great dramatic re-enactment, but I promise you- the original face was ten times more horrified and hysterical. I love you babe!

Merry Christmas Friends! 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How to Make an Ugly Christmas Sweater

Last night was the Coulter Christmas Party which featured an Ugly Sweater Contest at the request of Robert and myself! Normally we would have raided a closet for a holiday classic or shopped Goodwill, but this year we decided to get a little crazy and make them ourselves. It paid off! Robert won! So here is my Problem Half Solved Step-by-Step guide to the perfect Christmas sweater monstrosity...

Step One: Choose your design. You can either make reindeer or a Christmas tree. I rolled with the reindeer, so let's start with that one. First part of making a Rudolf inspired work of art is to make the reindeer's face, so paint the bottom of your foot brown. 

Step Two: Squish the painted foot onto the front of your sweater of choice. I chose a $6 long sleeved t-shirt I found in the little boy's section of Wal-Mart. It worked perfectly, but please make sure to put cardboard between the shirt layers or the brown paint will go right through! Also have some plan of attack on getting to the tub so you can wash the paint off... And take your wedding ring off before you paint your hands to make the antlers on your reindeer!

Step Three: Once your lady reindeer is complete, have your hubby repeat steps one and two for the man-friend reindeer companion.

Meanwhile... To make your Christmas tree design, make a pyramid of green handprints all over the front of another sweater type garment of choice. Bonus points if it's off-center! 

Step Four: Before the paint dries, sprinkle liberal amounts of gaudy gold glitter all over both designs, concentrating on the reindeer antlers. Prepare to be vacuuming up glitter for the rest of the week and finding that it has spread to the most random locations. As Mary said at the party, "Glitter is most definitely the herpes of craft supplies." It's well worth it though. No ugly Christmas sweater is complete without some sheen. Your carpet will recover eventually. 

Step Five, complete the look with black puffy paint accents, a red pom-pom nose for Rudolf, googly glue-on eyes, coy little reindeer smiles, and a nice purple bow to identify the tiny reindeer as a lady and not just... well... little.

Meticulously glue pom-poms all over the tree to represent ornaments, and use a cookie cutter to trace and color in a beautiful yellow puffy paint star.

Step Six: Let dry overnight and then show off your handiwork. 

If you really want to give your sweater an edge, add a surprise for the back! A chain of random horse pictures seemed to do the trick for Robert. Please take note of the insane horse fighting picture on the left. Hysterical!

Step Seven: Show off your trophy! 

With less than one week before Christmas, I hope your shopping is done and your sweaters are uglier than ever! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Snow Days to Sick Days

So it is very likely by the end of this week that I will have worked only 12 hours out of a normal 40+ work week. How you might ask? Between the two snow days we got at the beginning of the week to the head cold of death that I somehow managed to develop on Monday night, I am not in the mood to do much of anything. I tried very hard to go today, but left mid-day because I couldn't imagine remaining vertical a second longer. After a painful two hours at the doctor's office and a OTC box of pseudoepinephrine so strong Robert had to get a background check to purchase it, I'm still not feeling better in the least. I went ahead and took tomorrow off as a sick day, but it may turn out to be another snow day instead. We shall see...

Lots of tea and lots of time with my snuggie are in order; however, lots of grading will also take place hopefully. I wanted to spread some good news though before I collapse into a coma on the couch. I weighed in this morning, and I am down one pound for week one! I know it may not seem like a lot to those of you who aren't weight watchers, but it's exactly what I'm looking for. Slow and steady means it sticks. :)

Thanks for your encouragement! Prayers for my sickies please! I'm off to lazy around, whimper, and watch Glee. Please... do try to muster some sympathy. A Bientot! :P

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Baby It's Cold!

I really can't stay.... 
Baby it's cold outside!

I've got to go away... 
Baby it's cold outside!

This evening has been.... 
Been hoping that you'd drop in... 
So very nice! 
I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice...

My mother will start to worry... 
Beautiful, what's your hurry?

My father will be pacing the floor... 
Listen to the tea kettle roar!

So really I'd better scurry... 
Beautiful, please don't hurry...

Well maybe just a cup of tea more! 
Put some music on while I pour...

I really can't stay... 
Baby don't hold out!

Ahh, but it's cold outside!!!

Gearing up for what I hope will be the first snow day of the year with lots and lots of hot tea! Stay warm friends! <3

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Going Public

I've been debating about whether to post this or not, because I know most of my friends that read this blog read for the purpose of being updated on my life and don't necessarily want to be subjected to my eating habits. However, I've decided to start talking about this because I need support. I've tried to do this many times in the past, and the only time I was successful was when I attended meetings and had a place to talk about my journey with friends to cheer me on. So if you don't mind, root for me to make it this time. :)

I am a Weight Watcher again.

There. I said it. For those of you who don't know, this is not my first WW rodeo. I actually came very close to goal and was contemplating becoming a leader when I was in college. I went from my peak weight of 172 down to 140ish before I dropped out due to stress and health reasons. I lost all that weight fairly quickly, and I honestly did not do it very healthfully. While I will never claim to have had an eating disorder, I relied on processed foods and did not eat many fruits and veggies. After I stopped going to meetings and tracking, I gained back around 18 pounds before my wedding in May of 2009. On our honeymoon, my wedding ring (that had been sized at my smaller weight) was so tight I couldn't even wear it. I was furious with myself, and took advantage of living away from home to start cooking and eating better. I tried rejoining weight watchers in the fall of 2009, but I discovered that in East Tennessee there is no way to do weight watchers online AND attend meetings like I did in Williamsburg. I couldn't imagine tracking by hand, so I went to the online plan only. I kept quiet about it for the most part, relying on my on will power and support from Robert to accomplish my goal. Since then, I have gained and lost the same 10 pounds it seems, getting down to 144 at my smallest and hovering around 150 the majority of the time.

During this time period I discovered food blogs, racing, became a vegetarian, and adopted an overall healthier lifestyle, so trying to lose the last 10 pounds on the processed food heavy POINTS plan wore me down. I got tired of tracking, and it wasn't fun anymore. However, I knew that I needed to reign in my eating habits. I am not good at balancing, and I still use food as a reward or comfort. Portion size and cheese fries are just two of the food related weaknesses I have developed over a life of misguided munching, so when I got the email about the new PointsPlus program I saw an opportunity. I took it.

The new plan ROCKS. It's so easy for me to follow, because it's based on good for you foods now and my daily points value is much higher (Purely a mental boon, but helpful none-the-less!). I don't feel the need to buy sugar free/fat free junk to stay within my limits, and I love this. My beloved fruit doesn't cost me any points now (Yay bananas!), and instead of feeling boxed in and hungry, I feel liberated and encouraged! I'm so excited to finally be able to fit into my skinny jeans again. I bought them in the winter of 2007, and I desperately want to wear them again. But more than vanity or clothes, I just want to feel in control.

Now I realize I'm not obese by any means, but I can promise you I'm doing this for the right reasons. I have a very small weight goal that is really just the final capstone in a 4 year weight loss journey, and I know what I'm doing.

Why I want to lose 10 pounds-
1. I want to run a half marathon, and at my current weight my knees can't take it. Losing just ten pounds would take enormous pressure off of them.
2. I want to get to a healthy weight and maintain it before I get older. The longer I wait, the harder it will get.
3. I am going to be a parent within the next decade, Lord willing. That's scary to me, and I need to have my head on straight before I attempt raising a child. I want to develop healthy eating habits so that I can encourage my future children to do the same. I would never wish my daughter to have to go through the yo-yo dieting and eating issues I've dealt with, and I don't want to inadvertently teach the wrong mindset by example.
4. I want to take this opportunity to teach myself that I am doing something about the issues that plague me, and I want to stop the fat talk for good. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be 120 pounds, but I can not make myself content knowing that I am not at a healthy weight and can be more fit than I am. I want to prove to myself that I can do it.
5. I WILL learn to be comfortable in my own skin by taking control over disordered eating. And once I do, I want to be able to toss the scale for good.

Ok, so I suppose that's enough rambling for today. Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh Ballz.

What do you do with a container of Earth Balance the size of your head?

Bake Cookies!!!! Or kind of bake them... if you're making Mama Pea's Dough Balls anyway.

 I have a problem with my dough balls. The last time I made them, they did not stay ball shaped... so this time, I used very little liquid and had the great idea to freeze them before baking-

 But when I let them cool on the hot pan my balls turned to discs. Fail. They were still declared delicious at our ACC championship party though, so onto another type of ball...

 Football! Mom gave me this Virginia Tech Pasta, and I decided the perfect time to use it would be during the ACC Championships. We conned Mary and Thomas into letting us come over to watch their ESPN, and in return I bribed them with cookies and mACC and cheese. :D

Cute little VT pastas...

Bathed in cheesy, cheesy goodness...

 Leaves you with pure deliciousness! (at 800 calories a serving, don't expect me to be making this often.)

The game was soooo good! A nice easy victory for us, and not stressful at all! I get so on edge when I think we might lose. Too bad for Florida State that their QB was on the fritz with an elbow injury. It was a good game, just not a nail-biter. But I am ok with that, and my blood pressure is too! Orange Bowl here we come! Bring it Stanford!

 The puppies aren't interested in the sport of football, only the sport of wrestling. 

 And spooning... Awwww! Sweet Girls... (Don't be fooled, Q whipped around and chomped on Abby's face about two seconds after I took this!)

While the wrestling antics are fun to watch, the best part about them is when the girls pass out from exhaustion. In fact, I think Quincy still hasn't recovered yet, but she sure does love her friend Abby*. 

*I love my friend Abby too. And the rest of you who I would name but there are just too many to list. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Kaycie Louise!

Over Thanksgiving, we not only got to eat turkey side dishes with our family, we also got to stuff our face with birthday cake in honor of my niece's first birthday! Her actual birthday was last Friday, the third, but we celebrated a little early since everyone was already in town. 

My sisters and mom did a great job with the party food. They had a selection of soups and ALL of them were vegetarian!!! This made Robert and I so happy! And none of the meat-eaters there seemed to notice a difference. Probably because cheesy potato soups or bean-y taco soups are universal, something I wish more restaurants/establishments would take note of!

 Happy Birthday Baby Kaycie! She got to wear the much beloved "I'm One" party hat. I think every niece of mine has worn that hat at this point, and I'm sure it will continue to be passed on. We even have a blue one for the nephews! :)

 My niece Paisley was all about the toys as usual!

 And I LOVED the vintage owl them that Ang chose for everything. The invitations were especially cute!

 Uncle Lane gives the best "horsey" rides!

 and Eli spent plenty of quality time with Granny! I'm so happy he doesn't give me the stink-eye anymore, lol! He has gotten very particular about who can hold him in the past six months, and Robert and I became "strangers" there for a little while since we live so far away. But eventually he remembered that he knew us. <3

I love my babies! (Brant, Kenleigh, and Liam too even though they eluded my camera!) They make me look forward to Christmas so much!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Recently, I have been absolutely consumed (read: obsessed) with a few specific things. Number one: memories from Thanksgiving. Loved hanging out with my girls, and I really can't wait to see them in just a few more weeks! I have more pics from break, but they are all from my niece's birthday party and will come later.

Virginia Tech Football! Robert and I shivered our way through the game this past Saturday, but it was so worth it to see the Hokies turn UVA into the Boo Hoo's. :) Although, they knew it was coming. ACC Championships this weekend! I'm already planning my party menu. mACC and cheese anyone?

Christmas and Hot Tea: It has been freezing cold here lately, and I drink my weight in hot tea everyday. The tea warms my body. The vintage cherry mug and Christmas tree warm my soul.

And finally, the main attraction: MY NOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been wanting an eReader for a year now, and I finally couldn't stand it anymore. I wanted to get it for Christmas, but I spent three hours researching Kindle vs. Nook on Sunday. Bad idea. By Monday I was so excited about the Nook that I literally felt my insides were quivering. :D  It wasn't even December, and I went out and bought my Christmas present for myself. That's just how I roll I guess, and I'm so glad I did it. It is amazing, and as soon as I wrap this post, I'm going to see what happens to Robert Langdon next in Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol."

Now, along with my obsessions have come some things that... well... confuse me. This morning I went to my car to see this. Snow. Really early snow here in the south I might add. Not to mention that Knoxville does not get proper snow. We get plenty of teaser snow that is just enough to make the roads slick or make it freakishly cold, but not enough to even get us a delay for school. I really hope the snow doesn't torture me this year like it did last year. Go back and read my Jan-Feb 2010 posts for those fun instances of Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

And lastly also speaking of Knoxville, why is our fair town mentioned at the end of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love?" 

And I quote: "After returning from her travels, Elizabeth Gilbert ended up... traveling some more! Over the past several years she's been back and forth between Bali, Brail, Australia, Wyoming, Vietnam, Laos, Philadelphia, Cambodia, Thailand, and KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE." Which one of these is not like the others?!?! Is it like that in all the books or just the ones you buy here in K-ville?

 I'm starting to think it may be one of those publishing tricks that list whatever city you bought the book in so you'll be intrigued and buy the second book. If it is, it worked. Maybe I'll download it onto my Nook... Speaking of the Nook-

EEEEE!!!! Robert Langdon I'm coming!