Monday, July 30, 2012

My Love Filled Weekend

This weekend was relatively blah with spurts of random happiness. I kicked off Friday the right way, with an early morning workout at Crossfit followed by a delicious egg & turkey sausage omelet (my current obsession). Later that afternoon Braden and I headed to his grandparents 50th Anniversary.

Can you imagine?! A marriage that has lasted half of a century and is still just as full of love and life. Since Braden and I started dating, the Nichols family has always made me feel welcome, but these two have taken me in as one of their own. I cannot say how thankful I am enough, I have been so blessed by them and their relationship with one another. I grew up without a father, however, my mom did a wonderful job raising me on her own, I am so blessed to have her (gotta give her major props). Having such a solid model of what true love is has been so encouraging, and I pray every day that I will be blessed with a marriage just as wonderful as theirs.

Saturday turned into quite the random assortment of activities. Braden and I went to Elliotts in hopes of an adventurous day, which turned into a bro day with me thrown into the mix.. awkward! I ended up staying in the house and crafting with Elliott's sweet mama (who is the mother of 6 boys may I add), we crafted and made some clay magnets. I loved getting to chat and hear her story, I love hearing what others have been through and what makes them who they are. Her sweet parents were in town, and they are also such a testament to true love. They have been married for 52 years, and you can still see that sweet spark in their eyes towards one another. My heart has been so happy this weekend, and I have been so encouraged about love, lasting love at that.

Sunday, hmm well to put it simply, Sunday was spent in a car! We went to church and then went to the "Discovery" class, which is basically the first step of becoming a member. The church staff explained their mission, why they got started, how they've expanded, and future plans. I loved getting to hear their vision and their hearts for this church, I'm excited to become a member! Right after Discover Bray and I hit the road and headed to Atlanta. Our good friends Chase and Ed were making their way back home from KENYA! We were the lucky chosen ones to pick up Chase and bring him back to Clemson! Needless to say his deliriousness was quite entertaining on the way home.

Today was my first "two a day" - woohoo feeling beastly! Haha, but really, cycling at 8am then Crossfit at 4 is no joke! I could probably sit right here on my couch and watch Cake Boss the remainder of the night and be perfectly content. But, my wonderful friend from Auburn is coming into town, and she'll be staying the night with me!! I'm so excited to see her for the first time in months!

Whelp it's about that time, she'll be here in about 20 minutes! I hope all of you have had a wonderful kickoff to your week! I encourage you to make an adventure out of one of your days this week, who knows, you may end up having the best day of your summer!

This is real love - not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. {1 John 4:10}

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Peanut Butter Rendition

I saw this post on Alex and Emily's blog and just had to share, because Alex captured the essence of our fail flawlessly.. not to mention it literally made me laugh out loud!

The Peanut Butter  & Company's Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

I'm a huge fan of the Peanut Butter & Co's delicious flavored peanut butters, so when I saw this at the store I was dying to try to out:

I ended up bringing it over to Emily's apartment for a girls night and our sweet friend Jessi came to test it out too:

Issues began to arise immediately. 

First of all, the batter came out too thick, even after double checking that we had measured everything correctly. We decided we could look past this though, and moved on to the brownie-batter-taste-test. Usually a crowd pleaser, we were a little worried-there was next to no sweetness to these!

Less than ideal.

Even after adding the measly amount of peanut butter for the "peanut butter swirl" the flavor hadn't changed much. Not to mention the "swirl" turned out to be more of a tiny little peanut butter patch in one spot of the brownies. 

We tried to have faith in these brownies, we really did. We went ahead and baked them according to the directions. They came out looking and tasting almost no different than the batter. Disappointment was only curbed when we discovered some buttercream frosting in Emily's fridge, which we spread over the brownies to make them relatively edible. Filing this find under baking FAIL. At least we had fun!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Banana Bread & Beauty

Bray and I made some banana nut bread muffins, which turned out to be delicious! We had a few variations in the recipe, but I honestly think that's what made them awesome :)

Side note: we doubled this recipe because we were making 30 muffins, but the recipe posted only makes 14-15!


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 bananas
1/4 cup walnuts
1 tsp baking soda

Mix all of the ingredients together, then bake at 350° for about 30 minutes!

Voila! Yummy little muffins perfect for breakfast or a snack!

I decided to go for a walk on campus yesterday afternoon because I could tell that the sunset was going to be beautiful. God never ceases to amaze me! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Counting Game

Happy Friday! Today is a pretty chill day over here, I'm about to get a work out in with Bray and then we're going to make some banana nut muffins for this weekend. Someone donated a bunch of bananas to us at work, so I have about 12 bananas that I don't want to waste!

On a different note, I just read a post written by Katie, the wonderful owner of Her post "To count calories or not.. that is the question" was incredible, she had some great insight and I loved reading her understanding of this questionable matter. In high school, my love of fitness & food went too far, and I was constantly counting every single sliver of food I ate - I limited myself to no more than 1200 calories a day, sometimes only about 1000. This grew into an obsession that lasted for about 5 years. I wasn't taking in nearly enough calories for how much I was working out, and it hurt me more than it helped me. I felt more insecure, had less energy, and my body held on to every bit of food I allowed myself to eat rather than turn it into energy.

Last year, I started to be more lenient on how many calories I took in, but I still kept track due to the mental obsession I had. It gets so exhausting trying to keep track of everything you eat, food seriously ruled my day and would sometimes determine my mood if I ate well or "cheated." So many girls struggle with this, something as simple as counting calories. Up until this summer, I still tracked my calories on a daily basis. Katie summed up why keeping a running total of calories isn't healthy, and can really do the reverse of what you're wanting to accomplish. Now, don't get me wrong, but counting calories in the beginning of a weight loss / fitness journey is a different story. People embarking on a new health lifestyle should get comfortable with reading labels and being conscious of how many calories they are in-taking, but after a month or two of doing so it's time to listen to your body.

Here's Katie's reasoning:

So, although I am aware of what I am eating, I don’t keep a running total of calories for the day on paper, or in general. Here are a few reasons why I don’t count calories:
1. Eating with friends and family can get tricky if you are always counting calories. In general, if you don’t know what was put in the food, this can lead to anxiety… Or even a ‘bingeing’ mentality, when you throw all ‘care’ out the window because you don’t know what to write down. Instead, when I am at a get-together, I try to pick the healthiest choices that I see and make it my goal to focus more on enjoying the people I’m with rather than on the food…(after all that is really what life is all about isn’t it!?!)  And if I do pick a dessert, or something that I know isn’t so healthy, then I stick to one portion, and really spend time enjoying each bite (or I share it)!
2. If you count calories, you can actually over eat! Here’s what I mean… If you count calories, then chances are you will feel like you need to finish every single bite, even if you are truly full, in an effort to track the calories properly! This is a bit crazy if you think about it, because God really did put a ‘full’ signal inside each one of us for a reason! When I was first learning to pay attention to my body, I would take a few bites, put my fork down, and really pay attention to how I felt. Then, when I felt like my stomach was satisfied, I stopped, and saved the rest for later. Sure, it was tough to do this at first, and it does take practice (and prayer) in the beginning, but eventually you will be so in tune with your body, you won’t even have to think twice about it!
3. It can lead to bingeing. For me personally, counting calories led to binges when I let myself have ‘a day off’ of counting. This was most likely because I felt like I had to use my ‘freedom’ to it’s fullest  by eating whatever came across my path. Again, this is not entirely logical if you think about it, because there will always be another chance to eat any certain type of food again. However, on the days that I wasn’t counting calories, I felt as though I had to eat everything like it was my last chance to eat, knowing that the very next day I was going to be back to ‘tracking’.

Every point she made was definitely me in a nutshell for the past few years. Mentally, all of this can work you over and is honestly exhausting. Since starting Crossfit, I haven't felt the need to count calories at all. I know that I am working out enough to coincide with my caloric intake. I want to be healthier, I want to get stronger, and I want to treat my body the best that I can. Not allowing myself more than 1200 calories isn't the way to do it. In August, Crossfit is kicking of their Paleo challenge and I am super excited about it. It is a 30 day challenge to eat only whole foods (absolutely nothing processed), and it will be based on a point system. You calculate points from doing a fitness test at the beginning and end, eating healthy whole foods, drinking more water, etc - not how much weight or inches you lose. 

For anyone out there counting calories that truly does not need to, I encourage you to give it up for one week. Yes, just one week. Listen to your body - eat until you're satisfied, not stuffed. Your body will naturally send you cues to eat, and when to stop eating at a meal. Trust me, you will feel SO much better and such a feeling of freedom if you just give it up. I've had to take little steps - not counting for a few days, then a week, and so on. It's not one "end all" and I realize that. Let's do this together and live healthier happier lives!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. {Romans 12: 1-2}

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Peachy Peach Pie

As mentioned in my previous post, little Alex and I ventured out on a limb and attempted to make a legit peach pie. Peach anything during the summer is fine by me, it's one of my favorite summer fruits (along with watermelon). We got the recipe from this blog and even watched the "how-to" video. We dove right in and just went for it!

We started by collecting all of our ingredients. The recipe calls for vegan butter, soy milk, and arrowroot powder - but we used normal butter, skim milk, and cornstarch.

As always, Alex and I ran into a little bit of a struggle. The recipe calls for 1 1/4 cup of butter.. well we work in sticks of butter so naturally this was confusing. We had a hard time believing that 2 1/2 sticks equaled the amount we needed, but we eventually got this straightened out after reading.. and re-reading the directions. :)

Alex worked on the crust while I worked on the peach filling. The crust required a hand-stir / beat with a mixer sequence which turned out to be quite the arm work out (we had just done an intense crossfit workout with tabata push ups), but Alex was a tough little nugget and dominated that dough!

My peach filling didn't look super appetizing once I added the butter, so I just left that photo out :) the filling consists of peaches (obviously), sugar, vanilla, cornstarch, and a little milk.

Alex then pressed half of the dough into the pie pan and we let it bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Once it came out of the oven we poured the peach filling.

Then came my favorite part, weaving the crust! First, I had to press out the other half of the dough. Then, I cut the evenly pressed dough into strips. I thought weaving was pretty simple - lay one strip vertically, then one strip horizontally - but mine still didn't turn out perfectly weaved. However, it still looks great for a first try, right?!

After weaving the crust, the pie had to bake for another 55 minutes. Since it is being taken to the family reunion on Saturday we couldn't necessarily try it, but my oh my it smelled delicious! I stuck the tip of a fork into one of the weaved openings to taste the peach filling and it was DELICIOUS!

Mmm I personally think this pie turned out beautifully. Craftsmanship of baking is my favorite part, even if it has little affect on how it actually tastes. I seriously cannot wait to try this on Saturday. I'll definitely be saving my co-baker Alex a slice too, after all, that's what friends are for right?!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Favorite Moments of the Week

It's only Wednesday, I may be getting a little ahead of myself but this week has already been too good to me! What better way to celebrate the not-necessarily-over week than to share a few fun moments that have already made my week! I'll run in reverse and start this list of fav's on Friday night.

1.) Date night with Bray

Braden and I love heading to Greenville for date nights - think about it, you can have dinner, dessert, and entertainment all in one place! Plus we've had so many run-ins with incredibly nice people downtown, so it just makes for a great date place. On Friday we headed to Tako Sushi, one of our favs, and we sat at the end of the bar where we could see the sushi chefs working their magic! We started off with the Pork Pot stickers which were incredibly good! I ordered the Cucumber Salad Roll, Bray ordered the Seared Tilapia Takos, so naturally we shared to get a little taste of southwestern and sushi.

Crab, fresh shrimp, tomato, asparagus, and avocado rolled in cucumber and topped with wasabi vinaigrette!

After dinner we strolled around downtown for a little while and then headed to a new froyo place called Yogurtini. Oh my deliciousness, I'm pretty sure we tried every single flavor and then had the hardest time deciding which ones we wanted! We went with a cappuccino, cake batter, peanut butter, and red velvet cake concoction topped with a random assortment of yummy fruits and candy.

2.) Lake Day with the Nichols Fam.

Saturday we headed to the lake with the Nichols clan. We spent the day cruising and swimming, and eventually went and met up with a few of his parents friends. The afternoon quickly turned into wake surfing lessons for everyone, including the little ones!

If that's not the cutest thing you've ever seen then I don't know what is!

3.) Afternoon Rain Artsy-ness

We've been getting a lot of rain the past two weeks, which I'm not a huge fan of because it makes me want to stay in bed all day watching movies. However, the rain has made for some beautiful rainbows on a daily basis. Aside from the mountains and sunsets, I think rainbows are one of the most magnificent showings of God's beauty!

Even Bray got in on the action and sent me this super artsy photo - which makes me extremely proud :)

4.) CrossFit at Home

This week CrossFit was closed on Tuesday so Braden, Elliot, Alex and I decided that we wouldn't let that keep us from getting in a good work out. We (as in Elliot) came up with the idea to have a hill sprinting workout on the dikes, which initially sounded like a great idea. We came up with a workout of 4 rounds: 10 push ups, sprint up the hill, 10 burpees, back down the hill. Yes, it was as intense as it sounds! Alex and I modified a little and did 10 below-parallel squats in place of burpees, we felt it was necessary to still be able to breathe :)

I felt these socks were necessary, haha

Pre-workout agility

Everything about that picture cracks me up. Bray's just straight chilling, while Alex does a cartwheel warm-up. I guess everyone has their own methods of stretching and warming up prior to a workout, haha!

5.) She-Crab Sweetness

I had a surprise visitor at work today. Yep you guessed it, Braden showed up with she-crab soup from JPeters in hand. He knows me so well, and knows exactly how to make my day with one of my all time favorite soups! I mean really, how'd I get so lucky?!

 Tonight little Alex is coming to CrossFit with me for a trial run, but I already know she's going to love it! After our workout, Bray and Elliot are going to make all of us dinner, while Alex and I make a summer peach pie for Braden's family reunion this weekend. A post will be coming soon on the pie making method and on all of the fun family reunion festivities!

Until then, I hope everyone has a fabulous week - smile because we're halfway to the weekend!