Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Love a Four Day Weekend!

So, color me excited. Starting this week, I go from working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, to 9.5-10 hours a day, four days a week. I've taken Mondays off to be my designated writing day (And Food Prep Day for a New Year's Resolution), so this week, I get regular Saturday/Sunday weekend, plus New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Speaking of New Year's, I always say I'm not going to give a resolution, but I always have one in the back of my mind. Every last year. Right now, since I have nothing standing in my way, schedule wise, I am determined to finish Jamie Eason's LiveFit plan that I started in October. I am determined to RUN the Color Me Rad 5K in Omaha/Council Bluffs on my sister's birthday weekend, and I am determined to finish at least TWO books this year (Writing, not reading. I read at least 36 this year, according to my tracker on Goodreads.com).

To make these determinations become a reality, I'm taking my day off to plan and prepare my meals for the week, workout and write. Not necessarily in that order.

I'm ending the year on the right foot, though. Today, the day before my Giveaway on Goodreads ends, I completed and uploaded the finished product to Createspace. In 5-7 days, it will also be available on Amazon for $8.99. I'm pretty excited about it.

Oh, and expect a little New Year's Surprise coming up tomorrow at 11:59!

Anyone else have any resolutions or determinations for the coming 2013?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Well, friends, we've made it through another year. Christmas has this creepy way of sneaking up on me, and sadly, there was one gift that I was unable to get right now, but the receiver was very accepting of what that gift was (My daddy and a TeraByte External Hard Drive).


We always do our family presents on Christmas Eve, and I am so blessed this year. I loved everything (I got a mini/cupcake/cake carrier! I find it funny that the practical gifts are now my favorite. LOL), and was so happy that my family loved the gifts I got them (though several of them were Bath and Body Works and nothing more).

We went to church last night, too, also tradition. I love going to Christmas Eve services. It's as close to a liturgy that my church would ever get to (I went to a Lutheran church when I was little). I was asked to sing Breath of Heaven, which I enjoyed. Seriously love that song so much.

Before heading to church, I threw ingredients into the bread maker to mix up some cinnamon roll dough. Not just any cinnamon rolls, either. See, I have an addiction to Pinterest, and while perusing awhile back, I found Red Velvet Cinnamon rolls. They looked too delicious to be true, and I had to try them out for myself. I also had leftover cream cheese butter cream from when I made cupcakes awhile back, so that was one thing I didn't have to worry about.


Tada!
The instructions didn't call for a bread maker, but I was short on time, and the basic rules of the bread maker are wet ingredients in the bottom, dry on top, don't let the salt touch the yeast. I was worried that it wouldn't work, but it did! It was so much easier to roll out than it was last year, when I made Angela's Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon rolls (also in the bread maker, I mostly followed the ingredients, and not much else).

My aunt said they were horrible. I should keep practicing and she could be my taste tester. *snickers* Here is the recipe if you want to try it yourself. Let me know what you think!












Note the High Heel Tape Dispenser. One of my presents. LOL

Christmas morning has been otherwise uneventful this morning. Breakfast, coffee, stockings, my sister was working on her stocking stuffers for the extended family (Gingerbread!). She's been baking a lot lately, and even made Star Trek Red Shirt Gingerbread Men (Om nom nom!). We're nothing if not geeky. She got a Tardis Lunch Box and homemade Tardis Ornament (Instructions to follow, and hopefully go viral on Pinterest. LOL). We're nothing if not total geeks.


And now, we're watching "Santa Claus: The Movie." One of my favorites. It's like two movies in one. The history of Santa, followed by Dudley Moore's Shenanigans in 1985 New York with an evil John Lithgow. It's got low ratings on IMDB, but I don't care. I love this movie. Available on Netflix Instant View!

Now, just waiting for the family to arrive for more family fun. I get to see one cousin that I haven't seen in months, which will be great. I love getting together with her.












With all this talk of Santa and Cinnamon Rolls, just need
to stop and take a second to remember the Reason for the Season. I'm so glad Charles Schulz demanded Linus's recitation of Luke 2:9-11 remain anytime they showed it on TV. Pepsi placement, however, got removed. Too funny.

Merry Christmas to All!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Day!

It has been so long since I've gotten a snow day, I almost don't know what to do with myself.

Is there anything prettier than untouched snow?
This morning in celebration, I made pancakes from a Jiffy Mix. Added eggs and coconut oil instead of just milk, which made them extra yummy (I'm falling in love with the many uses of coconut oil).

Yummy!
Plans for the day include working on book 2 and roasting chestnuts (trying them out before I think about making them for the family), and that's pretty much it. Probably wrapping presents. Need to do that ASAP. I'm so behind on present wrapping. Usually, I've got my sister begging me to wrap her presents, which keeps the thoughts right in front of me. Not so much this year. Need to get on it.

I got a really nice note from one of my former classmates about my book yesterday. She and I went to college together, and worked on a Shakespeare project together (Loves Labours Lost). It totally made my day, and I'm glad she enjoyed it.

Mom just suggested making sugar cookies. I am SO there! Have a great day! For those with snow or inclimate weather, be safe!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Decorations Around Town

Smoothies have made a comeback! It's been awhile since I made a smoothie. Not sure why, but I haven't been in the mood. This morning, it was back with a vengeance. Soooo tasty!

This morning's smoothie consisted of the following:

1 Green Apple (Or apple of choice. Granny Smith Apples have the least amount of sugar)
1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk (Or any kind of milk)
1/2 Cup Frozen Spinach
1 Frozen Banana (I totally forgot I had these!)
1 Scoop MRM 100% Whey Rich Vanilla Protein Powder
1 Kelp Capsule
2 Spirulina Tablets
Cinnamon to Taste

I blended the apple and almond milk first, because I find it's the only way to get the apple nice and smooth. Blend the rest of the ingredients for around 2-5 minutes, until desired consistency.

So, Christmas is just a little less than a week away. Did you know that? I only know that because I work at Bath & Body Works, and I've been raking in the hours lately. And they insist on playing Justin Bieber Christmas songs. Lots and Lots of Justin Bieber songs. Heaven Help me.

Luckily, they also play This, which makes all of us start to dance when it comes on. Give it a listen. You won't regret it!


Other than that, and the very few houses with Christmas lights around town, you wouldn't know it was Christmas. We didn't even get snow until today.

For whatever reason, this year, my town has opted not to decorate the main roads like they always do. They always put poinsetta/bell/snowflake lights on the light poles, which always made the town seem festive. This year, absolutely nothing! Makes me so sad!

We've had the house decorated for a few weeks now, and at least it's festive inside, but this year it doesn't seem like it outside. At least inside, with Christmas trees, garlands and candles, it feels like Christmas.

Anyone else's town not decorating for Christmas? Think it's a political thing?

Watching A Christmas Story with my daddy now. Doesn't get more Christmas-y than watching "A Christmas Story!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Giving

It's the time of year when it seems like any extra money you can give a charity, it's especially needed. Don't know what it is about Christmas, but no matter what charity you give to, come Christmas, needs seem to be more prevalent than during any other time of year.

I don't usually give money to charities. Not because I don't want to, but because I can usually never afford it. Christmas is an expensive time of year, and this is only the fourth year I've had steady work, but the third that I haven't had to travel for Christmas. For about three months, I've had funds from the Smashwords sales of Sugar and Spies sitting in my paypal account. Not much, but something that wasn't doing anything.


Today, I was perusing a favorite website, Taysia Blue, a Siberian Husky Rescue Group. I can't get one now (living with my parents, and too many animals, according to my mom), but I like to see what they're up to, and I've considered volunteering with them once things calm down, schedule wise. Instead, I looked at giving money to them. How it worked, where the money went, etc. It seemed like a perfect plan. Groups like Taysia Blue rely on donations to keep things up and running. I got an email after submitting my donation explaining that my donation went to helping one dog, Lindbergh, with his heartworm issues. It seemed fitting to me. Of the dogs they have for adoption, Lindbergh is the only one who gets along with cats. Yes. I would need a dog who got along with Jane Austen.

After giving it some thought, I think I want to start giving a portion of my proceeds to Taysia Blue. I'll probably only give a small percentage, but I will make it a yearly gift. I only hope that next year I can give way more than what I've given today. It just doesn't seem like enough, but I'm optimistic for next year.

I urge everyone, if they can afford it, give to a charity you feel strongly about. If you have some extra change in your pocket as you're going into the grocery store, drop it into the Salvation Army buckets. It adds up, and people really need it this time of year.

Merry Christmas, Lindbergh. Good Luck with your heart worms and finding your Forever Family.

Lindbergh
Click Here to learn more about Siberian Huskies, and if they are the right dog for you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rest in Peace, Little Angels

As most have heard, Sandy Hook Elementary School experienced a tragedy that the majority of the country will never see. When I heard about it on Friday, I was in a state of such shock and disbelief that I stopped listening and tried to block it out. It wasn't until I saw the children's faces and heard their short life stories that it became real and began to sink in. I spent the weekend praying for their friends and families.

I don't have children, but after speaking to my family members who had children, they were all holding their precious babes closer, and thanking God for their own children's safety while simultaneously praying for the families who couldn't kiss their babies good night.

I'm copying this from Lizzy Mae Early's blog, Your Cup of Cake, because I think it's so fitting, and a touching tribute.


God Bless Newtown, Connecticut.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Literary Surprise

Today...was a dull day. A boring day. A day I worked quickly so I could get home early (paycheck be damned this week). Sometimes, you just want to be at home.

Something was waiting for me. Something...wonderful.

Care to take a guess?

Well, a little background, with my giveaway on Goodreads this month, I've been working to get the paperback copy finished. It's been a bit annoying with the cover, but I heard from my cover artist today, who offered to fix it for the paperback tomorrow (Thank you, Lindsay!). Color me relieved. I wasn't a huge fan of what I did for attempting to get the cover to work, so actually knowing someone who knows what they're doing is a big help.

That said, I'd heard some scary things about shipping with Createspace in regards to proofs. Since I needed to get everything done, I ordered it as soon as I possibly could. I had a feeling I really needed to see it before I purchased the final product. So glad I did! There was one faux pas that would've made a big impact if I hadn't removed it. Also, there are a few technical things that need fixing (Headers on all the pages, blank pages at the start and end of the book, a few areas where I needed to fix some spacing issues). Probably more than a few, but definitely fixable. I've fixed most of them, anyway.

Without further ado, from the land of Instagram!

Follow me @martinbeks!
I've decided that the original size I picked, 6" x 9", is too tall, almost like a textbook, so that was another fix. Now it's going to be 5x8, which adds, roughly, 100 pages, and it'll be more like a fiction book (I compared the size to a copy of The Bell Jar By Plath, Sylvia (Google Affiliate Ad) I got when I was in college).

This has been a fantastic learning opportunity for me, and I'm excited to continue. I talked with Lindsay a bit tonight about doing the artwork for book two as, despite my being nowhere near done, I have ideas for the cover, and it would be nice to get it out of the way.

Things are coming together, and I'm cautiously optimistic. So thankful for my supportive friends (Lu and Christina) and artistic partners (Lindsay). You guys are awesome and keep me sane. :-)

Peace Out!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tommy Nightmare (The Paranormals, #2)Tommy Nightmare by J.L. Bryan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved the first book in this series, "Jenny Pox." I was riveted from the first chapter and couldn't put it down. This book, while also interesting and riveting, seemed a lot shorter, and like many middle books in trilogy (though, I see a fourth is out now), it had a cliffhanger.

There are so many unanswered questions that this book left me with. Who is Alexander? Are Jenny and Seth soul mates? Will Esmerelda get her life back from Ashleigh? What about Tommy? Will that semblance of a conscience return in "Alexander Death?"

Suffice it to say, my next payday, I'll be getting book 3. I won't wait so long to get it (I finished "Jenny Pox" last spring).

For what it's worth, I enjoyed this book. It was a really quick read, I loved hearing more about their world, and how insane large crowds of people can get.

I did feel it was too short, and things happened a bit too quickly, but I still enjoyed it. JL Bryan has a way with story telling. He's so good at it. He's painted this world that is vivid (and it might be the cover of "Jenny Pox" talking, but also sepia-toned) and rich. I'll probably start to turn to him when I need to get sucked into a book. This is two books that have sucked me in and not let me go.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My First Giveaway!

So, coming on New Year's Day, "Sugar and Spies" will be available in print! And to get excited and ready for it, I've teamed with Goodreads.com to present a Giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sugar and Spies by Rebekah Martin

Sugar and Spies

by Rebekah Martin

Giveaway ends December 31, 2012.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win
All you have to do is join Goodreads, a social networking site for readers, and you can enter to win one of five copies of "Sugar and Spies." You have until New Year's Eve and the winners will be chosen by Goodreads on New Year's Day! Also, I've included the first chapter of the second book, "The Truth and the Spy," which is coming soon to an eReader near you! Good Luck!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Shopping!

What a short day! Since I started getting up around 5 for work a few months ago, I have a hard time sleeping past seven. This morning, I slept until 9. Didn't see that happening. Especially since I had to work at 10. Eep!

Luckily, work went pretty quickly today. When I walked in when the store opened, we were already packed to the gills, and it didn't really let up, which is fantastic. I love keeping busy.

After work, I met my mom and dad at Walgreens so my mom and I could go to Maurice's. On Thursday, the one pair of work pants I own(ed) that actually fit got a broken zipper. Yeah. I don't shop that often. I have clothes that I've had since high school and college that I still wear. I keep meaning to clean out my closet, but pure laziness prevents me.

Anyway, today after work, my mom and I went to Maurice's and I dropped $100. It would've been more, but I had coupons. I got a pair of jeans, black dress pantsCrinkle Cami (What is up with the Crinkle? I could do that at home for free! LOL), and a really pretty mint green sweater. I'm hoping that they can go with the purple pumps I bought from JustFab a few weeks ago.

It's not that I don't like to shop. In fact, when I find awesome outfits, I feel like a complete rock star after shopping. It's just that I feel like I never have money to shop, even for clothes for work. Sad and pathetic, I know. I'm hoping to get gift cards for Christmas to do more shopping there (and fill up my punch card!), and maybe clean out my closet in the next few weeks. Start off 2013 with a clean closet? I think it's doable.

Peace out!

Anyone else hardly ever go shopping?

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

I've been having an interesting few weeks. Without going into too much detail, things have been stressful at work, and I haven't had time to write. I've done plenty of imagining and dreaming, but no real writing. I'm really behind on NaNo, too.

Today, someone made a comment that was basically belittling those that want to do ore with their lives than what they're doing. Like they should just be content with the mediocre. That's never been my style. I've always had big aspirations and have always been certain said aspirations would come true.

Source
It always bothers me when someone pooh-poohs someone else's dreams. If they aspire to be something bigger and to do something that is more meaningful to them, why belittle it? Maybe it's because I've been around seriously negative people that never understand why I do the things I do, but if someone does something that I consider off-kilter or wonky, I just leave them to their own devices, and figure it'll come to fruition eventually.

If someone wants a change, why act like it's the most terrible thing in the world? People are constantly changing. Even those who are set in their ways do their own changing eventually. It's how the world works.

I don't want to do my job forever. I want to be a writer. I want to be financially independent. If that's a terrible dream, then let me continue to dream anyway.


The world is already ugly enough. Don't take aspirations away from people, even if you think they're dumb. Even if they don't fit into your plans. It's like this person I'm thinking of forgot that people do have lives outside of work. It's insane.

Eleanor Roosevelt had some fantastic quotes about life and dreams, so I'm going to leave you with them, for a positive note.

~“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” 

~“Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn 
his back on life.” 

~“Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.” 

~“What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?” 

~“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” 

~“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.” 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown!

I haven't blogged since Election Day? I swear I wasn't THAT depressed my candidate lost! Wow! I'm gonna go with I've been super busy lately, between two jobs, plus NaNoWriMo (which I'm behind on), and sleeping, I guess I've been too busy to blog. I do have one blog that's been stewing, but I'll probably write it tomorrow. Lots of pics to be had on that one!

I honestly thought this day would never get here. I've had to work so much this week that I'm ready for a break.

I started my Thanksgiving break (of one whole day) off right by meeting my parents at Perkins in Omaha, where we also met up with my cousin, Joey, his wife, Brooke, and their adorable little girl, Abby. It was our first time meeting Abby, who celebrates her first birthday next month, so I was so ready for my workday to be over.

Imagine our surprise (my parents and I) when shortly after Joe and Brooke got there, Joe's parents, Jim and Julie, younger brother, Danny, and Danny's girlfriend Jada showed up! I haven't seen Julie or Jim in about a year, and Danny for even longer. I have tentative plans to hang at the Henry Doorly Zoo with Danny and Jada on Friday, when I'm between jobs.

Right now, I'm relaxing, watching a movie with my daddy, and getting ready to do my pre-Thanksgiving baking. What I always do is bake corn bread. And not just any corn bread. No. This corn bread recipe, I got when I was nine. That year for Christmas, my grandparents got me a set of Little House on the Prairie books, and in the back of one of them, you could send away to join the Little House Book Club. It was free, so I did.

Source
I didn't get much out of that club (which, I don't know if it's still around or not), but I did get a recipe in the mail for Buttermilk Corn Bread. I get rave reviews on this stuff every year. Not to mention, it's super easy. Just remember to put it into a deep pie pan. I didn't last year, and it kind of exploded all over the place. Luckily, it was on a cookie sheet, but still.

Yep. That really happened.
I got the recipe on a postcard, and every year, I would have to dig through all of my stuff to try to find it (You know how it goes when you're nine and have no idea what a recipe binder is). Last year, my parents got a wild hare to put all of our family's recipes into a big cookbook. It was mostly my mom's side of the family, who were hoarding fantastic German dishes they brought over from Europe and passed down at least two generations. This was the perfect solution to my missing post card problem.

 So, here it is. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family always has.

Buttermilk Cornbread
Adapted from My Little House Cookbook, with recipes by Amy Cotler and illustrations by Holly James

6-8 Servings


Ingredients


1 Cup Flour

3/4 Cup Yellow Corn Meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 10 inch pie plate

2. Combine flour, corn meal, baking soda, baking powder, salt and brown sugar in a bowl, breaking up clumps.
3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat (I cheat and use the microwave)
4. Combine eggs, buttermilk and melted butter in a second bowl. Wisk until well combined.
5. Mix wet and dry ingredients until just blended. Pour into pie plate
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cut into wedges and serve warm with plenty of butter.


Ah. MUCH Better. And in a pretty plate, too!
So tasty! I love it. I need to make it more than once a year. Especially because it's so easy!


Source


Wishing you and Yours a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Election Day!

Every four years, the people of America sit up and take notice. Every four years, they turn against their brother, each more convinced than the other that they are right and said brother is wrong. Every four years, we are lied to, promised things, and we pray that something new will come and change the direction we're going.

Source
I believe in hard work and going for what you want. I believe you have to be in charge of your own future and destiny. I believe you should get the choice of where to work, go to school, get your healthcare, purchase your food. Every choice we make, we might not have if not for those who came before us.

When I was a kid, my parents took my sister and I to vote. They used the machines, and my mom let me push the buttons. I grew up in a conservative house, but see myself as more of a conservative Libertarian, we were casting labels. I believe in freedom above all else.

"Atlas Shrugged." Not for the Faint of Heart
So, to make a long story short: I voted.


Happy Election Day!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Hope everyone had a sugar-filled, ghoulish good time today! We had desk trick or treating at my job, so I bought some Paydays for the occasion, and have nommed several today.

I haven't really celebrated Halloween in a couple years (I lie. I went to a party last year. I dressed up as Princess Fiona and won Cutest Costume!).

Was going to paint my skin green, but it wasn't working for me.
The other day, I was at Target with my mom, and we were perusing costumes, and it made me think of the costumes I had growing up. When I was a kid, my mom made my costumes, and spoiled me. She put so much detail into them, and I wish I had pics floating around online to show you, but you'll just have to take my word for it. I've been several Disney Characters: Cinderella, Snow White, Tinkerbell, Princess Jasmine, Pocahontas, the Clopin from Hunchback of Notre Dame.

In high school, my costumes started to get a little less Disney, a little more traditional. I was a cat one year, Titania from A Midsummer Night's Dream another year (And was robbed to another Titania for Best Costume! [Theatre Kids]).
Ever After was big that year, so that's what my sister was from, I think.
When I got to college, I went on a limb and was more Ghoulish. Observe.

Hipster Vampire: Before Twilight~2005
Mary, Winifred and Sarah Sanderson of Hocus Pocus~2006
Fairy and Goddess~2008
My favorite, which I can't seem to find a picture of, was when I was working at Horseshoe Casino back in 2010, and I dressed up as a Twilight Fan. I wore a raglan T-Shirt that said "Vampire Baseball League," straightened my hair, put two multi-colored streaks in my hair, wore my contacts, had my sister put bite marks on my neck and my new nickname from the dealers was "Twilight Barbie." I got great tips that night, though.

Thanks for taking this walk down memory lane with me. This was fun! Hope you have a safe, fun Halloween!

What are your favorite costumes from years past?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cooking Fool

I don't know what it is about fall, but I have been cooking like a maniac lately. Saturday night, I made a full on dinner for my parents, mostly from scratch (Crock Pot Roast Chicken, cheddar biscuits, roasted brussels sprouts, green beans, garlic mashed potatoes). The chicken, beans and brussels sprouts were scratch. The rest was pre-packaged. Still homey and delicious, though.

We had tons of leftovers from the chicken because it was a whole fryer chicken and we're only three people, so I made chicken and dumplings tonight. Added benefit was that we found rainbow carrots at the store, and they excited me so much that I bought them. It was all so tasty. I wish I had pictures.

Not gonna lie. Only reason I wanted to make it was because I think I'm getting sick, but I didn't want to have soup. Chicken and dumplings is way more comforting to me than soup. It was wonderful. That Rachael Ray knows what she's doing.

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So, getting sick. Yeah. Yesterday was my church's "Trunk or Treat," and being on worship team, I was part of the entertainment. It was also freezing, and singing in cold weather is a recipe for a raw throat. I've been drinking tons of tea all day, and got my veggies in today (two whole cups of kale in my smoothie this morning!). I don't know. Ever feel run down and gross, and you know the problem? Eating junk food makes me break out, so I'm praying my skin clears up in the next day or two, and that the tea/water help, too.

Source
I'm thisclose to taking a home remedy from my friend, Denise to knock out a cold. A whole garlic clove, vitamin C and echinacea. Done it before and it works. It's just highly GROSS. She says she has to follow her garlic with a Dr. Pepper chaser. I had to follow it with Diet Coke when I did it.

What are some other home remedies to ready ourselves for Winter?

Friday, October 26, 2012

LiveFit Phase 1: Almost Done. Basically a recap

So, I'd be totally lying if I said I was happy with my results so far. four weeks and eighteen weight training sessions of about 30 minutes each is nothing to sneeze at, but it hasn't been like I thought it would be.

Pros so far: I am definitely stronger. I was able to do ten girly push ups in a row last week. That is AMAZING! You have no idea (or maybe you do), but I've wanted to be able to do a push up for a long time. Maybe by the time this whole thing is over, I can do legit push ups on my toes, not my knees. I also did my workouts first thing on almost all mornings (all but two, I think). That meant getting up around 5:30. I'm really proud of myself for that one.

Cons so far: I haven't lost an OUNCE of weight. Honestly, it's pretty aggravating. I know why, too, so I have no one to blame but myself. I need to eat better. What you put into your body is so much of how it responds. I know that, but I got tired. I got stressed (Election season stressing anyone else out? Why can't it be done already?!), I got lazy. I got something, all right, but as the saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Also, "Nothing worth having is easy." And my personal favorite,


Taking all of that into consideration, when I went grocery shopping with mom this evening, I bought lots of produce that I know I will eat. We also bought a chicken that I am roasting in the crock pot for dinner tomorrow, along with rainbow carrots (how fun!), and possibly roasted brussels sprouts (Don't hate. Roasted's the way to go!). Tomorrow and Sunday, I'll be working on planning my meals for the rest of the week, including egg muffins for take n' go breakfasts before hitting the gym. Probably start making green monsters the night before as another take n' go option for second breakfast (weight training teaches you to eat like a Hobbit: Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevensies, Lunch, Tea, Supper, Dinner).

Because of the way I've been eating this week, my skin's been breaking out. I have this book, You Are What You Eat Cookbook: More Than 150 Healthy and Delicious Recipes (Google Affiliate Ad), and the corresponding book, Gillian McKeith's Food Encyclopedia, which both have instructions on how to treat acne. First things first is change your diet. That is the plan.

Originally, I was going to just do the workout and be happy with that. But I can't be happy with that if I'm not seeing results. I'm not wired that way. If I don't see results, I won't continue, and that's the real issue. I need to see something in order for me to continue. Having not been an active person for a long time, this is taking work and dedication. I am determined. And thank you, blogosphere, for giving me an outlet (despite my blog being more of the movie/book review type-blog). I needed this.

I'll probably be back tomorrow evening with a dual movie review: Atlas Shrugged: Part I and II. Highly recommend if you're interested in business or personal liberty.

So, to end on a happy note, I can do 10 Girly Push Ups and can get up around 5:30 in the morning. Here is to Phase Two, which starts Monday, incorporates Cardio again, so I'll have to get up earlier, but that's okay. Hopefully with this change in diet, I can be more energetic. They really do go hand in hand. We'll see what happens. Until then, just have to keep my eye on the prize(s).


I think that shoe would go with either of those shirts. Don't ya think?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

People don't understand that everything is connected. Everything we do, everything we say, no matter how insignificant or flippant, it can effect someone to the point that their life is altered.

In Jay Asher's novel "13 Reasons Why," Clay Jensen receives a box of tapes recorded by his crush, Hannah Baker, who had recently killed herself. On the tapes, she recounts exactly what happened leading up to her suicide, and pin pointing certain people and events that caused her to think that her life wasn't worth living anymore.

Her design for the tapes was that they were supposed to go, in order, to the people mentioned on the tapes. Everyone who got them had a hand in her decision. Clay, a decent enough chap, had no idea why he would be included on the list. He could have loved Hannah. He certainly had a crush, and they shared a nice kiss. Why would he be included on the list? That's for the reader to find out, because I'm not going to tell what happens.

That being said, I read this book extremely quickly. I was dying to find out what happened. How was Clay involved? Was it all a ruse? Was Hannah really dead? She seemed like such a lively, lovely person that you'd never imagine what kind of inner turmoil was happening. She wasn't a sharer. She was more of a "this is my life, and it's as good as it's gonna get"-type girl, I felt.

The people that she mentioned on the tapes probably had no idea the impact that their actions could have. She'd been labeled a tramp, among other things, because she'd accidentally, or inadvertently insulted someone. Rumors hurt. Maybe if she hadn't been bombarded with the rumors by so many people, she would have moved past it. Maybe there was something bigger at work. Whatever the case, Clay had some answered questions, but I had too many unanswered questions for my liking.

Example, I would have loved to have found out how the few people who received the tapes after Clay reacted. Would it have changed them? Would they have realized what they'd done? Sadly, it's difficult to say, but this was definitely a good read.

Written by Rebekah Martin, author of Sugar and Spies

View all my reviews

Friday, October 19, 2012

Week Three~C'est Finis, and a movie.

So, I did five workouts this week. Two were the same leg work out, but it still added up to five. Let's see that refresher, shall we?


Aside from forgetting to look up today's exercises (Whoops!), I was able to do everything, and figure out the rest. The two exercises that I hadn't done before were definitely the hardest. Not sure if it would've been harder or easier had I looked them up.

Now I get two days rest. Woot!

So, after a longlonglonglong LOOOOOOOOONG day today (I've been up since 5. And I'm getting used to it. Yikes!!!!!), I didn't get off work until 6:15. At least I got time and a half.

This evening, I watched Atlas Shrugged: Part I and it was really good. Politically, I think you need to work for what you want in this world, and if you're in a position to help others, you should. I don't think you should be forced. Be genuine, be kind. Take care of yourself, take care of your friends and family. Work hard. Change your fate. That's what I believe.

Anyway, Atlas Shrugged: Part I is the story of A powerful railroad executive, Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling, The Lucky One), struggles to keep her business alive while society is crumbling around her. Based on the 1957 novel by Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand is someone I agree with, politically, but she was bat-stuff crazy. 

The plan is to see part two next week. The book had three parts, and hopefully they'll do part three next year.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Oh, how wrong I was...

So, I think I mentioned last week that I didn't think the leg workouts were anything to write home about the last two weeks.

This morning, I think I almost hurt myself...

Let's have a looksee, shall we?


For the Calf Raises, we don't have the machines at my gym, so I use barbells, and for the standing, I actually did two sets. One with my toes facing forward, and one with my toes facing outward (like Mary Poppins).

Those weren't the hardest, though. Those were easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy (What do that even mean?).

Lunges KILL me. Add to that, I have a 20 lb barbell across my shoulders. I was trying really hard not to put too much strain on my knees, as bad knees run in my family.

I know I'm going to be feeling it all tomorrow, because I feel it now. Slowly, though out the day. Mostly in my glutes and hamstrings. Ibuprofen is definitely in my future tomorrow. This excites me, though. People told me (well, everyone in their blog posts) have said this workout is totally killer. The whole shebang. The first two weeks, I didn't think so, but after today, I'm a believer. And I feel if I actually do keep this up, my body will change.

Good To Know.


I'm pretty psyched for tomorrow. :-)

Think about it. And remember, lifting weights builds strong bones.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

LiveFit Phase 1: Weeks 1 and 2

C'est finis!

I have finished the first two weeks of Jamie Eason's LiveFit Trainer. Had to switch up some days, but I did it!

Both weeks had the same workouts, which I liked. I liked knowing what I was getting into, but in the coming weeks, things are gonna get crazy. Ah well. One phase at a time. One day at a time.

There's no cardio in this first phase, and each workout took me between 20-30 minutes. One the first week, I felt I didn't get a good weight workout, and I figured I probably wasn't pushing myself enough. Week two, I went from 50 lbs to 90 lbs, and I'm definitely feeling it now. But in a good way. Anytime I felt I wasn't challenging myself (Challenging=Struggling to finish last two reps), I upped my weight.
I did let my diet go a little by the wayside this week. Got super tired for some reason, and my mom was in the hospital for a few days (no worries! She's feeling much better, and has been home since Tuesday!), so things were a bit hectic.

I'm really optimistic about the coming week, though. This week, my church was having a garage sale, and my parents got me a food steamer/rice cooker. I've used it twice today, and will probably prep more food tomorrow, too! I'm kind of digging it.

The first thing I tried was Steaming Eggs. I'd heard about steamed eggs via the Fitnessista as an alternative to  hardboiled, and having tried it, I love it. Eggs seem to be what I crave after working out, and since my gym is right next to a grocery store, I've popped in a couple times for pre-made eggs. This is definitely more cost-effective.

The second thing I'm working on is rice. We're doing Chinese for dinner. Yummy! Hopefully it turns out as well as the eggs did.

So, really not a lot to report on the first two weeks. I've decided that after I've completed the whole 12 weeks, I'm going to go back and do it again, but be more strict about my diet. I think doing both at the same time is too much change too soon. Will probably update again for the next two weeks.

Have a great Saturday!

Another shirt I need to get, eventually

Saturday, October 6, 2012

One Night at the Opera

So, anyone who knows me knows that I love music. I have since I was a kid, having grown up with a mother who sang to me all the time (and not necessarily silly "kiddy" songs, either. When I'm 64 was a very prominent song, as was You're Sixteen by Ringo Starr, though she changed the words)., and a father who played piano and sang. We have a player piano, and TONS of piano rolls.

When you're three years old and the piano plays itself, you can easily imagine that the world will always be magic.
When I got to high school, I actually started singing opera music with choir, and for two years, my choir got to sing with several other area schools, the Omaha Symphony, and Opera Omaha. Those two performances were the highlight of my high school music experience.

In college, when I started voice lessons, I was told that  I might have a future in opera by my voice teacher, the late Harry Morrison (Happy Birthday, Harry!), and I honestly believed that after five years of college, studying to be a writer, I could continue to go back to school at Mizzou to be a singer. I was one math class shy of being admitted (lame!).



My voice is a bit more musical theater now, but that's okay. I still really enjoy opera. I've been seeing at least one show a season at Opera Omaha since I came back from Columbia. After I'd been home about two months, my best friend, Sam, got us tickets to a Broadway review (two rows from the front), the following fall, I went to Opera for the Cure with my mom (a four year breast cancer survivor!) and my aunt, the next year, my aunt and I went to Madama Butterfly, which also featured my former voice teacher, Shelby VanNordstrand (she was also in the Broadway Review, but I didn't know her yet). Last night, my aunt and I went to see La Traviata

Pretty decent seats, if I do say so, myself.
This production starred Inna Dukach as doomed heroine, Violetta Valery. Her voice reminded me of Anna Netrebko's Violetta in her performance of La Traviata. Very beautiful.

Joshua Kohl played her lover, Alfredo, and he honestly reminded me of Rupert Friend in The Young Victoria. He has a beautiful voice, but his performance was almost spot on with the meekness that Friend had when he first met Victoria.

The rest of the performance was wonderful. It was a fun party in Act 1, what looked like a nice life end for the ill Violetta in Act 2.1, another party, not as much fun in Act 2.2, and a freaky, trippy death in Act 3 (What do you expect from an opera? A happy ending? ~Bugs Bunny).

It was a lovely evening, and I'm glad I have someone to go to shows with. My aunt and I have a tentative date to see The Magic Flute in February! It will be my third time seeing it, and I don't think any performance can top the Santa Fe Opera performance back in 2010 (There was heat lightning in the distance and they have a quasi-outdoor theater while the Queen of the Night sang her Aria. Pretty epic).

The Lobby of the Santa Fe Opera House
It was nice to get away and spend an evening in the theater. And it was really packed. It always surprises me how many people go to the opera, since there are so many cliches about it. And I always feel I have to drag people with me. The first time I saw The Magic Flute at Mizzou, I went by myself.

I don't think people understand how taxing opera music is on the performers. It's exhausting, even when done right.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Attempting to be adventurous...

Whenever I start a new project, I go all in. It's probably not the wisest thing in the entire world, since sometimes my passion tends to fizzle before I can finish what I want to do.

What I typically do in situations like this are at least teach myself new things. I learn new recipes, I research new workouts, etc. Health and wellness fascinates me to no end, but I think I get disenchanted after awhile. Not with working out, but just the whole getting burnt out. It's what always happens, but I've also started reading up on a lot of people who I find motivating.

One such person is named Erin, the blogger behind Live Life Active. This past weekend, she participated in her first bikini competition (the last few weeks of prep looked harsh!), but came in third place! That's extremely motivating. I'm not saying I want to enter a bikini competition anytime in the near future (or ever!), but she's just a testament to hard work and determination.

On the main page of her website, she has a recipe for protein peanut butter cups that looked easy peasy.

In the mix: 6 egg whites, 1 scoop vanilla whey, 2 T carob, 2 T natural PB
Her original recipe called for chocolate whey, and cocoa powder, but I've got vanilla protein powder and carob powder up the wazoo (almost done with the bag from the store. Soon I'll move to the bag from Jamesport, Missouri, that my mommy brought me). I doubled up on chocolate flavor, as well as peanut butter, as I needed to finish the jar (why not?).

Hanging in the deep freeze.
It actually made twelve. The other six were on the opposite side of the freezer. Apparently, the serving size is  four of the cups. YIKES! We'll see how I feel after having one, but if I can have a more natural/healthy version of one of my favorite treats.

Last night, I made Cinnamon Rice pudding from You Are What You Eat Cookbook By McKeith, Gillian (Google Affiliate Ad). Brown Rice (used instant from Aldi), HyVee Rice Milk, and about two teaspoons of Cinnamon. It also called for lemon juice/zest, but we didn't have any, so I went without and with was lightly sweet and tasty.

Trying new recipes seems to be what keeps me motivated. I guess I'll just have to keep working at those.

Made it to the gym tonight, though I was feeling a bit rushed, and hardly anyone was there *knock on wood* which is always awesome.

Anyway, let me know if you try out the recipe. I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Starting over.



So, a couple weeks ago, I said that I would keep you updated on my progress with LiveFit. Sadly, life, as it tends to, got in the way. I'm starting again tomorrow. I'm also going to get up early to go to the gym so I can't talk myself out of it. Wise words from my friend, Kaity, an avid runner.

I've got a work out buddy in my friend, Emily, and we're going to text when we've finished a workout. She also suggested a bet, where we don't eat fast food for two weeks. I think that it's actually doable. But, my first order of business it to just finish this week, getting up early to work out. Speaking of. Need to fix my smoothie for energy before my workout.

Also need to make my lunch (which, involves making sure everything is put in a bag, grab n' go). I'll let you know how it goes.

Amazing weekend!

So, sadly, it's been an entire week since I got to see several of my girlfriends from college at our friend, Amanda's wedding. It was also my birthday weekend, so it was fun spending it with people I love and adore, but don't get to see nearly enough.

On Thursday night (9/20), I picked up my best friend, Lauren, from Eppley, carrying a sign that said "Short Twin Sweany" so she'd be sure to recognize me (It had been ten months since our last visit. How else were we supposed to recognize each other?), and then we met my parents at Runza for dinner.


Now, Lauren chose Runza as they don't have them in Denver. Last time she had a Runza, she ordered the kid's meal, which only had half a Runza. Thinking it was the size she would get, she ordered two of them. She said it was okay, though, since she hadn't eaten in almost 24 hours. Two should hold her until her next visit.

Afterward, we drove to Grandview, Mo, where we stayed with my aunt, uncle, cousins and sister for the night. We promptly got lost once we got into Grandview. Insane, considering I've driven there so many times. Granted, they moved, but I've driven there a couple times. I know the exit. I just didn't find it. Thank God for smartphones.

The next morning, after breakfast with my sister at Panera (with a birthday gift card from mommy and daddy), where I got the pecan braid. Sooooo amazing! Love them!


We would be driving through the town where Lauren and I went to college. I hadn't been back since I'd moved away after a terrible experience, so I was really worried about having a panic attack. Thankfully, Lauren was with me, and she's part of the reason that college was so great. I love my friends.

Funny thing while we were driving, we realized that the wedding wasn't at 6, like I'd originally thought. It was at 4:30. We were so convinced we were going to be late. We stopped in Mexico, Missouri, to pick up our friend, Jessica, and hurried to Wentzville, where the wedding was held. We got there at 4 and it didn't actually start until around 5.

Kaity, Lauren, Alicia, Jessica, Me
It was a fun night, and great to see Amanda so happy.


More to come later. It was a busy weekend!

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