Friday, November 9, 2012

Mo' Money October

Photo Credit: kenteegardin via Photopin CC

If this month is No Sweets November, then last month was Mo' Money October. By that I mean that I spent most of my month learning and talking about financial management. Between marriage mentoring homework, wedding related expenses, and the sermon series at church, it felt like I was being bombarded with messages about how to handle my finances. (Side note: If you're at all offended by religious talk, now's the time to bail. Just a head's up.) You'd think that after all that talk I'd be completely sick of the topic and feeling crushed about my socio-economic status. Quite the opposite, actually. I realized how incredibly blessed and lucky I am!
  • True Treasure (Matthew 6:21): I may not be tangibly wealthy but I am rich in relationship. I have a solid relationship with a wonderful fiance. He's more than I could have expected or imagined. I'm lucky to have parents that support and love me unconditionally. And future in-laws that do the same! I don't have a ton of friends, but the ones I do are quality. My relationship with Christ is something that will never end or be replaced. These are the things that really matter, that have true value in the end.
  • Peace and Provision (Matthew 6:25-33): Fiance and I are probably considered "working class" maybe leaning on the edge of "lower middle class". Reading that still kills me a little, but I know that God will provide whatever we NEED. We may not get all of our wants (new house, truck, recording studio, staying home to raise kids, etc.), but God promises our needs (shelter, food, water, clothing) will be fullfilled. We have quite the abundance already compared to a basic list of necessities, so we can have peace that we will have all that we need to live, and probably much, much more! 
  • Real Responsibility (Psalm 24:1, 1 Corinthians 10:26): We (Sorry for using 'I' and 'we' interchangeably; fiance and I did most of this learning together, have similar conclusions on this topic, and we're just about married financially.) learned that everything is God's so we need to be responsible with it. The house that I worked to buy, the careers that we earned degrees for, any money we make, our very breath is ours only by His grace. That means we give God a measly 10% and live of the 90%, it means sticking to a budget, communicating about financial decisions, and making wise decisions on how to handle our finances. We're so immensely blessed that we don't want to be wasteful even when it's easy or convenient. 
I know this is only the tip of the iceberg, we have a lot more growing and learning to do, but I feel like a burden has lifted knowing these fantastic truths! We are blessed, we are rich, my friends!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Quick Update & Five Healthy Recipes

This will have to be a quick update. Mostly because I'm at work and should be working, not writing. But I can't think of when I'll have time for an update in the next couple days. So here's my 7 day recap:

  • I accidently ordered cinnamon apples for dessert at Chili's.
  • I bought 2 bags of fall candy that were on clearance at Target to put out on Thanksgiving and I haven't been at all tempted to eat them.
  • I started running again!
  • I drank some Diet Coke a little late one night to satisfy a sweet tooth. Never again. I slept horribly and had the weirdest dreams.
  • I've passed up leftover Halloween candy, doughnuts at the office (twice now!), a martini (At a martini bar no less. Bigtime bummer.), and a cupcake.
  • I've been motivated to make healthier, more filling meals like...
  • I had a meltdown and a Bridezilla moment. All due to sugar withdrawal.
  • I've lost 2 pounds!
Overall, so far so good! 23 days left! I think I can... I think I can... I think I can....

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sad Apples

It's day two of my (almost) sugarless adventure and it's already a lot harder than I thought it'd be. Last night, fiance and I went to Chili's for dinner. I didn't realize it until my plate came - I had ordered Cinnamon Apples for dessert! I gave them to fiance and he was too full to eat them. So they were sadly abandoned on our table. Better to waste than to the waist! (I take no credit for that inspiration little saying.) It really opened my eyes to this habit of sweets eating that I've developed. It seemed like an appropriate dessert. It wasn't chocolate, it wasn't baked dough, it wasn't candy, and because it had the word "apple" in it, I was tricked into thinking it might actually be healthy! I'm sure I've chosen to eat deceptively "healthy" foods a lot! A few of the things I thought of... 

  • Dark Chocolate Covered Raisinets: They boast "30% less fat than the other leading brands" and "1/2 serving of fruit in every 1/4 cup". To get 1/2 serving a fruit in your 1/4 cup serving, you'd actually be consuming 26 grams of sugar! (Who ever eats just 1/4 cup of Rasinets anyway?) I'm not sure how many of those are added and how many are naturally occurring in the fruit, but that's well over the daily recommended sugar intake for an adult woman. (20 grams)
  • Junior Mints: These are one of my absolute favorites! The box reads "A low fat candy". It is! Only 3 grams of fat. 16 pieces per serving - pretty generous! 150 calories per serving - excellent! Seems to good to be true right? Well, it is. 32 grams of sugar per serving. That would be 2 grams of sugar in each piece of candy!
  • Chili's Cinnamon Apples: Cinnamon is healthy, apples are healthy, yet this side item has 270 calories and 11 grams of fat. Much to my dismay, Chili's has not released the sugar content to the public. I'm thinking that's bad, very bad.

The moral of the story: Think before you eat! Read the nutritional label, question your restaurant choices, research their menu before you head out. Corporations don't care about your health, they want their food to taste addictively good so you come back for more. 

Anyone else care to share a little research on some of their favorites? I'd love to hear! (Please continue to convince me not to eat this stuff!)

A shameful side note - I almost ate a chocolate chip I found on the floor of my car today. Low point. I stopped myself.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

No Sweets November

It's been a while since I've updated, I hope you can forgive me. In case your forgiveness requires justification, well, I was focusing on other projects like painting and repainting the living room, putting out fun fall decorations, hanging out with my family at the pumpkin patch, attending our first wedding shower, working on marriage mentoring homework, designing wedding invitations, collecting addresses, and mailing out our wedding invites. And then there was a beastly week-long sinus infection that's still working its way out. It's been busy!

While I do promise to write update about our painting projects, wedding showers, and fall/Thanksgiving decorations, I am actually writing today to introduce my newest project:

Yes, I'm really cutting out sweets for the entire month of November! Now that's not to say that I'll be cutting out all sugar. I'll still be eating fruit, honey, and a small amount of sugar substitute. But I am saying buh-bye to full sugar cakes, cookies, and candy. To clarify, here are my rules:

1. Fill up on fruit.
2. Dark chocolate, honey, pure maple syrup, or sugar substitute as little as possible.
3. No processed foods that list an added sugar in the ingredients (sugar, juice concentrate, corn syrup, rice syrup, cane juice, etc.)

So I'm not depriving myself completely. I don't think I can not have chocolate at all. But instead of eating half a bag of chocolate chips for dessert, I may melt them and drizzle them on strawberries. Instead of making chocolate chip cookies using the traditional recipe, I'll use unsweetened applesauce and sugar substitute in place of the normal almost 2 cups of white and brown sugars. I want to be aware of how much sugar I'm eating and avoid eating it just 'cuz.

In addition to my not depriving myself - yes, I realize Thanksgiving is in November. Also in November, is one of my wedding showers. I'm not going to go crazy (I hope not at least), but I am going to allow myself some sweets. For my shower, I'll have a small bit of dessert but only if I'm hungry. Since I host Thanksgiving, I'm going to try to tweak the family favorites with as little sugar as possible (I'll try to post recipes!) and I will be having dessert. And I'll be having leftovers the rest of the weekend. I know, I'm terrible. But it's Thanksgiving!

So as I sit here on Halloween night, eating all of the leftover candy and sweets I have in the house, I encourage you to stick around. I mean you do want to be around when I have a chocolate withdrawal meltdown, right??

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Unlivable Living Room

It's bad. Very bad. Very wrong. I cannot continue to live in this....

Not the mess - the wall color! Here's another view in case you didn't get enough of it the first time around:

Ew! 6 hours of prepping, cutting in, moving dropcloths, climbing ladders, rolling paint with the world's worst roller, and 2 coats of "the sexiest sexy tan", almost all by myself. No offense if you really like buttery yellows, but this color gives me hives. 

When fiance and I painted the kitchen, we spent 3 days arguing deciding on the perfect paint colors. It took us only a half hour while eating pizza and watching Casper (Don't judge!) to pick Sensible Hue by Behr. Fiance insisted on a "sexy tan" and I wanted a warm color since I was so tired of the blue gray that had been on the walls for 3 1/2 years. Sensible Hue had us at hello. 

The morning of, I decided to stop at Sherwin Williams just to make sure that there wasn't another color I liked a little better. Sure enough, there was! I grabbed a swatch of Ivoire and went over to Home Depot to check on Sensible Hue. When I compared the two colors, the Ivoire seemed to have a little more brown in it. So I cheated and had Home Depot color match Ivoire. 

Once I got home, I took a four hour nap, and then got to work. (I ran 7 miles in 35 degree cold at 7am on a Saturday, I earned that nap!) The first coat went on and even though the gray still showed through, I knew it was a miss. Fiance came home from work and helped me finish up the 2nd coat - we wanted to give it the chance to prove itself to us yet. 

Sadly, Ivoire could not redeem itself. I think it actually got worse as it dried. I couldn't believe how yellow it looked, I had purposely changed colors to get something a little more brown - thank goodness we didn't go with Sensible Hue! The next morning, I taped up the swatch of Ivoire to the wall and, sure enough, the color match was way off.

Ivoire is 2nd from the top.
I had planned on going back to Home Depot and asking for a new gallon of paint, but the more I thought about it, even the right color match would still be too yellow. So we're going back to the drawing board. I'm think about Behr's Country Beige or Sherwin Williams' Wool Skein, another color I thought I'd like based on some pictures I saw while Googling was Sherwin Williams Ancient Marble although it may be a little more gray and we really don't want to go back to gray! I'll try to post pictures of the new and improved paint color as soon as the winner is chosen.

Which would you pick? 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dodging the Flying Cat

I am sad and relieved. I am sad because I've decided not to pass out candy for Trick or Treating in my neighborhood. The past three years, I've decorated with spider webs, strobe lights, and played spooky music on my Pandora. Usually Bella dresses up for the occasion and stays outside until it gets busy. 
"Look mom! It's a flying cat!"
Last year, I had to make a big fuss at work to try to get off an hour early to get home in time to pass out candy. I was single, living alone, and my parents didn't get much kid traffic at their house. 

This year, things have changed. I'm engaged, I'm working a salaried position, I'm buying groceries for two, saving up for wedding bands and hair stylists, focusing on running and my eating habits, and trying to find a little balance in life. Fiance will be working, I won't be home on time and don't care to make a fuss at work about it, don't really want to spend $30-$50 on candy (I go through about 7-10 large-ish bags each year!), and I don't want any leftovers to tempt me in the house. I don't care to spend my precious free time decorating my porch, dressing up the cat, and cleaning everything up when it's all over. 

What I've decided to do is head to the rents'. My dad will be working, but Mom will be home by herself. We plan on having a little bonfire and some hot cider on her front patio. This will be their first year doing Halloween in a new house, in a new neighborhood. They live right by a school, but on a dead end street so we're anxious to see how many kids will come by. I won't have to decorate, buy candy, try to convince my boss to let me leave early, dress the cat, sit outside by myself for 2 hours, cleaning up fake spider webs, eat excess amounts of leftover chocolate, or worry about the event in general. 

Plus, I will probably get to see my cute little niece all dressed up for her first Halloween! My sister and her man live just a few minutes away from my parent's house; I know they weren't going to drive 20 minutes to show her off to me, but they will most likely drive 5 minutes to bring her to Mom's. 

All in all, best decision for me this year. What are your Halloween plans?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I am not superwoman as hard as I try. I will never be perfectly fit, have all my bills paid ontime, have my house clean and in order, earn sales person of the month at work, and spend a great deal of quality time with family and friends all at the same time. I am a normal human being, and I can only do so much.

I find that I can usually tackle 2-3 of life's problems at a time on top of my full time job. Right now, my top 3 are:

1. Wedding - Only 3 1/2 months left to go and still so much to do! I need to find a hair stylist, the guys still need to get their suits, we need to order invitations, finalize our guest list, get programs printed, make table centerpieces for the reception, and go to 2 showers that are being thrown for us. On top of our monthly mentoring meetings, homework for those meetings, and planning out the ceremony with our pastor and ceremony coordinator. Yikes!

2. Cleaning House - Fiance will be starting to move in his things in December. Mostly, he needs to set up his home recording studio in my unfinished basement. I recently went through all of my boxes in the basement. I had about 12 bags of garbage, and about 20 boxes that went to a thrift store. I kept my seasonal decorations, and three storage bins of my childhood memories. Not bad! We still need to sweep up, deep clean the laundry room, sand the floors (paint is chipping up), and give the floors and walls a fresh coat of paint. I also cleaned out my office so I'd have a place to work on our finances and just to have a part of the house for myself. I got rid of 8 boxes of stuff I didn't need anymore! That room is basically done, I actually sit in that room for a little while almost every day. Who would have guessed I'd like it so much once it was decluttered. I'll have the full story on that project sometime soon. Anyway, I still need to clean out the bathroom vanity cabinet, linen closet, and reorganize the kitchen so there's room for our shower gifts!

3. Weight Loss - Maybe this is TMI, but since I'm getting married, I had to start taking birth control. I gained about 10 lbs in just a few weeks - while I was training to run a half marathon. So unfair! I'm really trying hard to eat healthy and workout. I'm running 3 or 4 mornings a week for a total of about 15-20 miles per week. Just this week I started to add strength training back in. I plan on 2 days a week of that. I'm trying to stick to 1400 calories a day, mostly fruits and veggies. So far I've lost a pound. In two weeks. Still, a loss is a loss. 

A few other projects that tend to be in frequent rotation are 
  • This blog
  • Painting and decorating around the house
  • Working out my finances
  • Spending more quality time with family and friends
  • Art team for my church
  • Working on an idea for a young adult book I'd like to write
  • Off hours self-training for work
Sadly, this blog is not taking precedence right now, but it'll come back into rotation again, promise! I've learned that 3 is my max number of life projects, otherwise I get burnt out on life and nothing gets done. What are some of your priority projects? What are you currently saying 'no' to?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Thank You! (and) Please Help!

This is probably not actually a big deal in the blogging world, but I'm kinda excited. Today I hit 200 page views! In less than 2 weeks! I suppose that if even one person like my blog enough to view it 200 times, I must not completely suck at this writing thing. 

Now, the blog-naming thing I do totally suck at. So I'm going to ask for your help. I would love to see comments below on what you think I should call this blog. If I pick your name, you win the satisfaction of knowing that you're a winner! Comment away!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Chosen One

We did it! We picked not only a honeymoon destination, but a vacation rental too! To recap, our requirements were:
  • Less than a 4 hour flight away
  • Warm-ish weather. 
  • Lots of fun things to do like museums, nightlife, restaurants, scenic areas.
  • Hot tub required (Seriously, we love us a good hot tub night.)
  • Some comforts of home - TV, internet, cell phones, kitchen, car.
And our top runners were:

  • Mexico
  • San Diego
  • Miami
So which did we pick? Drumroll please!
Photo Credit


I love San Diego, and fiance has never been there. He's actually never even been to California! SO we're excited to share a trip to a great city with tons of things to do. The weather will be fine. It's supposed to get down to about 50 at night and 65-70ish during the day. It's not warm enough to swim, but it should be pleasant. Truth be told, we were never completely comfortable with the idea of spending a week in Mexico just laying by a pool. We like to see and do things! We're really looking forward to SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo, possibly a day at Disneyland, and a day in Tecate, Mexico. Definitely having a nice dinner in LaJolla and watching the seals at Children's Pool. So many options! So exciting!

We also decided on a vacation rental. 2 bedroom condo on a hill 1/2 mile from the beach with an ocean view on 2 sides. A private patio with BBQ, hammock, and again - ocean views. Best part? Our own hot tub on the patio! No sharing with strangers, me, my hubby, the ocean, and the stars. We. Are. So. Excited!

Monday, September 24, 2012


I would say that my fiance and I complement each other pretty well. Where I'm introverted, he's a people person. He's go with the flow and spontaneous, I like a realistic plan. He's good with clocks, I'm good with calendars. He's clean, while I'm messy. (Yes, I think I'm the messy one in the relationship! Yikes!)

We also have a lot of strengths in common. We're both good at communicating with each other. We have similar energy levels. We are both loyal to friends and family. 

Of course we also have weaknesses in common too. Most noticeably, we are both completely indecisive. For example, when we recently repainted the bathroom and kitchen, it took us hours to come to a conclusion on the bathroom color and days to decide on the kitchen color. We literally bought 6 different samples and went through at least 50 paint chips before we finally decided on a color! (More on that story soon...)

The current dilemma is where to take our honeymoon. We're about 3 1/2 months from the big day and still haven't decided. For a while we were convinced we'd go to an all inclusive in Mexico for a week, but the longer we thought about it, we just weren't sure if that option was really "us". 

After discussing it a bit, we have a few criteria for our honeymoon destination: 

  • Less than a 4 hour flight away
  • Warm-ish weather. 
  • Lots of fun things to do like museums, nightlife, restaurants, scenic areas.
  • Hot tub required (Seriously, we love us a good hot tub night.)
  • Some comforts of home - TV, internet, cell phones, kitchen, car.
Based on that criteria, we've added San Diego and Miami to the list of potential vacation spots. 

Here's our current pro's and con's list:

Obviously, San Diego is in the lead right now, I'm just really concerned about the weather. Anyone have any other pro's and con's or destinations to add to our list? Where did you take your honeymoon and what advice do you have for us?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Marathon Bag

Around mile 2 of my marathon this weekend, I mentioned that it'd be nice to see my fans because they had my bag with my sunglasses in it. One of the runners I was with was shocked that I had come prepared with a whole bag full of stuff for the day. "Wait, what? You have a bag!?

Of course I had a bag!

I could be classified as a chronic over packer. When I go away for one night I bring at least 2 shirts to choose from for the next day... and a pair of shoes to match each shirt... and accessories for each outfit. If I'm going away for a weekend, I have at least 4 different outfits, because, who knows what I'll actually feel like wearing? Maybe it's a bit due to the fact that I live in the Midwest where the weather is completely unpredictable? I'm also know for always having tweezers, Q-Tips, cotton balls, floss, mouth wash, band aids, etc. I the one to go to on a trip if you need something, or anything at all. So, yes, I had to have a bag for my big race.

Here's what I packed:

  • Bib Number: Obviously necessary! I also brought a Sharpie marker to fill out the emergency contact info.
  • Flip Flops: Running that long on asphalt makes my feet really hot and I didn't want to be walking around the park barefoot after the race.
  • Face Wash Towelettes: My skin is very sensitive and breaks out easily so I wanted to be sure I could wash my sweaty face.
  • Allergy Medicine and Advil: Breathing is nice when you're running and the Advil was in case I did have any injuries.
  • Phone and Headphones: I use Run Keeper to track my runs and listen to Pandora. Unfortunately, I had no signal for a good portion of the run, but I did get to listen to a few songs and there were DJ's and bands every couple miles on the race course. What a great surprise!
  • Sunglasses: Mostly from the ride there and home and hanging out in the park after the race.
  • Chomps and a Power Bar: These are my energy replenishing foods of choice. I don't really like to eat before I run so when I'm running more than 8 miles, I have a few bites of a Power Bar beforehand. After my first hour of running, and every 30 minutes after that, I chew on a few Chomps. It may just be psychological, but I feel like it gives my legs a little boost when I'm feeling slow.
  • Wallet: There were booths and vendors in the park after the race, but I was way too exhausted to visit any of them. I also missed out out on my free piece of pizza, free massage, and free stretching. There's always next year!
  • Bottle of Water: I knew they'd be giving it out at the race, but I filled up my own water for the ride home so I wouldn't have to remember to grab a couple extras after my run.
All in all, I had most of the things I needed. The one thing I regretted not bringing was hand sanitizer. There wasn't any in the porta potty and I definitely touched something wet in there. (EWWWW!) I ended up dumping half my bottle of water on my hand and made a conscious effort not to let that hand anywhere near my face. I'm still alive almost 2 weeks later, so I guess I'll be alright. Next year though, I'm adding it to my packing list!

Anyone other marathoners have suggestions on what to pack in a race day bag?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Only Half Crazy

All pictures mine
Last weekend I ran my first half marathon. It was only only my second race ever, and the longest distance I've ever ran. I'm was physically exhausted, but it was such a rush! Here's the recap:

5:00: Alarm goes off after a very restless night's sleep.
5:07: Roll out of bed and get ready.
5:23: Fiance realizes he's forgotten his hoodie at home. Fiance goes back home to pick it up.
5:37: Parent show up and we leave to drive to Chicago.
6:02: Stand in world's longest Port-a-Potty line.
6:31: Try to find someone I know to help me get to the starting line.
6:43: Find friends at the starting line. (Winning!)
7:00: Race starts.
7:11: Cross starting line.
7:12: Lose track of time.
Mile 1,2,3,4,5,6,7: Fantastic running pace! Beautiful weather! Beautiful views! Great music!
Mile 8: Cleared gigantic hill at the turn around.
Mile 9: Stop for Gatorade and twist knee.
Mile 9.5: Both knees lock up. Stop to stretch.
Mile 10: Give up and walk.
Mile 10.5: Talk myself into running. (It's only 3 more miles! You can do this!)
Mile 11: Give up and walk.
Mile 12: Friends come up from behind and encourage me to run. I run.
Mile 12.5: Give up and walk.
Mile 12.75: Run. Because it's better to look like I ran the whole thing than have functional limbs this week.
Mile 13: Parents and fiance are cheering! I wave.
Mile 13.1: Finished! Collected water, banana, granola bar, and medal.
10:02: Figure out what time it is. Meet parents and fiance in World Vision tent. They eat pizza. I drink a Diet Coke. We say hello and thank you to friends.
11:15: Lose track of time. Attempt to waddle back to car.
12:15: Get home and realize the cat's been locked on the screened in porch for 6 hours. I guess you can't win 'em all!

(That's me waving at Mile 13!)

I'm so proud of myself for committing to something and seeing it through. I mentioned that I hung out in the World Vision tent after race. I was actually running on Team World Vision and raising money to build wells in Rwanda. I've sponsored a child there for the past 5 years so it's a cause and a ministry that is very near and dear to my heart. I'm still accepting donations on my Team World Vision page through the end of this week. 

A big thank you to my wonderful fiance who put up with my lack of sleep and utter exhaustion during training, and my parents for driving us to Chicago before the sun was up even though they thought I was crazy, and to everyone who prayed for me, encouraged me, or supported my cause financially. I couldn't do this without you!

Fiance stole my shirt, but he'll be wearing his own next year!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Evolution of a Blog

In the beginning, Megan created... a blog! Or two, or three, or four.... This may actually be my fifth blog. Yikes! Let's be honest, I have no follow through. But I love blogging. I've written tried to write about my personal life, weight loss and nutrition, interior design, and an upcoming half marathon I'm about to run. (I actually haven't abandoned that blog yet, but I'll probably only write one or two more posts. Once my half marathon is done, my fundraising page will be unnecessary.) I wish I could remember the links to these sites, I'm sure they'd look awfully pathetic! I feel like this time, I may have it. Not only because I'm older and wiser (ha!), but because I'm taking all of my interests and combining them into one blog. I chose the name Peace Love Home because I feel that it represents the areas of life that I'm passionate about. 

  • Organizing and maintaining my daily life and tasks
  • Meal planning and nutrition
  • Running and working out

  • Date ideas and general thoughts from a soon to be newlywed 
  • And wedding planning ideas, frustrations, and reflections until then (January 11!)

  • Kitchen, bath, and other home design ideas from a professional remodeling retailer (That's me!)
  • Decorating and organizing ideas and tips
  • Lots of DIY projects!
I hope you stick around for all the bloggy goodness!