Friday, August 31, 2012

Document: August

Ermahgerd, it's September!!!  I really cannot believe it is already September, and  that 2012 is 3/4 complete!    August is also a "transitional" month for me (with school beginning), but this August was so busy!  I had a class end, another two classes began, Doug and I redecorated our bedroom and our guest room, my parents visited, and I welcomed friends to Lynchburg for school beginning.  Busy, busy, busy!!!

12 in 2012.  August was supposed to be all about vacation and relaxing; ha!  Since we had to relax so much in July, we worked hard in August to complete our bedroom and our guest room.  I still want to update our linen closet and bathroom, but our house is definitely back in working order.  I also took care of a lot of my September 2012 goal by cleaning out my dresser and closet and donating the clothes to charity.

Reading.  While I have improved, I am still behind!!!  I have read 56 (and a half) books so far this year, including 27 new books.  I am working through the Percy Jackson series (2 1/2 to go), to be followed by the Heroes of Olympus series (2 to go), to prep for Mark of Athena (to be released on Oct 2!).  Not to mention at least two book to read for school, and I still have three Women's Murder Club books to read (2 of them are new).  Now that I have settled into my Fall Schedule, reading has become much easier (and necessary).  Can I read another 44 books in the next four months?  I guess we'll see...

Cooking.  I was able to try a lot of new things this month, like Grilled London Broil (with plenty of leftover for fajitas) and Mini Beef Wellingtons.  as I am writing this, my Southern-Style Mac and Cheese is baking, so I should be able to tell you how that turned out soon ;)  September = apples and pumpkin, so I am hoping to try making some Mini Apple Pies, Pumpkin Cupcakes, and some different breads (Banana, Apple Cinnamon) and cupcakes.  I have been making a lot of smoothies for school, but I would love to try using Oatmeal, Chia Seeds, and different fruits/flavors this month.

Health/Fitness.  Making it to the gym has been inconsistent, to say the least.  I have been able to stretch every morning and start using my new yoga and walking DVDs (as well as walking a bit to class).  I injured my ankle this week, so I will have to take it easy/low-impact this week, but it is nice to be back on a schedule.  I also pinned a couple detox ideas -- everything from a 30 min soak in the tub to a one week detox diet -- that I would like to look into more this month.  I've never done a detox before, so I want to take it slow and make sure it is safe before starting.

For September, I am hoping to try the 30 for 30 challenge.  I haven't chosen my wardrobe pieces yet, but I will be working on it this week.  I've seen some people follow this for 30 days straight, while others have done 3 days a week for 10 weeks.  I think I'm going to try to do 4 days a week for 8 weeks (I know that makes 32, but oh well), which is when cold weather will start to hit.  Here's to September!!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

A whole week of meal plans for the first time in a while ;)

Tuesday -- Pork Stir-Fry w/ Asian Rice
                  Meatloaf w/ Broiled Potatoes and Broccoli w/ Cheddar
Wednesday -- Shredded Buffalo Chicken w/ Grilled Eggplant
Thursday -- Shrimp, Corn, and Cheddar Baked Penne
Friday -- Burgers w/ Fajita Rice
Saturday -- Take Out!
Sunday -- Broiled Cod w/ Buttered Orzo and Broccoli w/ Cheddar
Monday -- Tuna Melts w/ veggies

After seeing so many recipes using creamed corn as a base for mac and cheese, I have to try my own version!  Doug loves shrimp, and we have some leftover that should make this hearty enough for a full meal!  I'll let you know how it goes ;)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Aug 26-Sept 1)

Week two of school -- ready to keep rolling for Fall!!!

1.  Greek Quiz (8/27)
2.  Essay (400 words) and reply to others
3.  Book Report/Critique (due 9/2)

4.  Menu Blog Post (Plan and grocery shopping done!)
5.  Cut Doug's hair (and trim his beard!)

6.  Workouts/Gym
7.  Enjoy the PLL Summer Finale!!!
8.  Schedule a haircut ;)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Aug 19-25)

What a super long week!!!  Classes and cleaning, oh my!!!

1.  2 Presentations with Essay (400 words) and reply to others -- still need to reply
2.  Greek Quiz (8/24)
3.  Spiritual Growth Plan/Chart (due 8/26) -- need to add in chart

4.  No grocery shopping this week! (still blog!)
5.  Rearrange Guest Room (by 8/23)

6.  Stay on new Fall Schedule
7.  Workouts/Gym -- cleaning and moving and walking for workouts, no gym

I spent most of Sunday and Monday working ahead, all of Tuesday and Wednesday (and Thur morning) cleaning, and all of Friday running around (school, lunch, parents, dinner, errands)!!!  Today I finally had a chance to relax...and work on finishing up some weekend homework!

Here's to next week being more "normal" schedule instead of "crazed cleaning maniac" schedule ;)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (8/12-18) and Goals (19-25)

How distracted am I?  I spent all weekend getting ready for back-to-school and forgot my weekly results and goals!!!

1.  Three presentations
2.  Submit Reading Log (due 8/17)
3.  Final Exam (due 8/17)

4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Rearrange Guest Room -- still waiting on some extra muscle to help out! 
6.  Begin sorting/filing paperwork

7.  Try new DVD workouts -- I watched the workouts so I would be ready to do them ;)
8.  Get on new schedule! (for the most part!)
9.  Prep for school starting on Monday

Needless to say, I have a few things I need done this week, especially before my parents get in on Friday!!!

1.  2 Presentations with Essay (400 words) and reply to others
2.  Greek Quiz (8/24)
3.  Spiritual Growth Plan/Chart (due 8/26)

4.  No grocery shopping this week! (still blog!)
5.  Rearrange Guest Room (by 8/23)

6.  Stay on new Fall Schedule
7.  Workouts/Gym

On top of all this, I have started re-reading the Percy Jackson Series (to be followed by the Heroes of Olympus Series) to prepare myself for Mark of Athena coming out in 43 days!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

De and Doug's Den: Top 10

Even though school is looming around the corner, summer has been amazing.  A big part of that has been having the opportunity to relax -- which for Doug and I means lots of reading!!!

A big part of summer reading is being able to be "swept away" or "caught up" in the story.  So, as a back to school treat, Doug and I have each made a list of our top ten "getaway" books.

Doug's Top Ten "Getaway" Books/Series:
(in alphabetical order)
-- The Civil War Anthology (Marvel Comics)
The superhero civil war pits Iron Man against Captain America in a fight about registering superheroes with the government, with real world parallels to civil rights and freedoms.  The anthology sums up the story nicely, but if you are looking for more details, check out the individual comics/storylines.

-- Dracula (Bram Stoker)
The classic vampire story; though the plot is well known, the writing draws you in with almost lyrical rhythm in many places.

-- The Hunt for Red October (Tom Clancy)
A Soviet captain goes rogue with his state-of-the-art sub and crew, leading to some memorable battles.  While the movie is excellent, the book emphasizes the global effects of this event.  This book is one of the reasons I love history.

-- Ivanhoe (Sir Walter Scott)
This essential medieval tale has it all:  crusades, damsels in distress, Templars, even cameos from Robin Hood and King Richard.  All through the tale of a knight returning from the Crusades on a quest for love and honor.

-- Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton)
Who wouldn't be swept up in a book about dinosaurs?  While the movie shows a lot of the action, the book elaborates more on scientific ethics and the terror felt by those involved.

-- The Silmarillion (J. R. R. Tolkien)
For anyone who loves The Hobbit and LOTR, this book provides the background and founding mythology for the tales.  The book includes the creation of Middle Earth, which is one of the most beautiful pieces of literature I have ever read.

-- A Song of Ice and Fire Series, a.k.a. Game of Thrones Series (George R. R. Martin)
Even though this is a long read (with at least two more books in process), this bloody struggle for power and respect is inescapable.  The series looks at the dark side of medieval culture and challenges the preconceptions of even the most avid reader.

-- The Space Trilogy Series (C. S. Lewis)
It's all you would expect from the creator of Narnia; it's full of imagination, action-packed stories, and issues of morals and ethics.  And who doesn't love a story about Mars?

-- Star Wars:  I, Jedi (Michael Stackpole)
A quintessential Star Wars story, more in the style of the original trilogy.  A pilot from Rogue Squadron embarks on a journey of self-discovery as a Jedi knight.

-- The Watcher (Dean Koontz)
A tale of good vs. evil; a man and his dog must survive attacks from a mysterious and shadowy evil creature.  A great thriller with a little blood/gore.

De's Top Ten "Getaway" Books/Series:
(in alphabetical order)
-- Avalon High (Meg Cabot)
Arthurian legend meets modern high school; really easy to read with a likable main character.

-- The Chronicles of Narnia Series (C. S. Lewis)
Classic books about the creation and history of Narnia and the people who made it that way.  Full of magic, suspense, and childhood memories.

-- The Harry Potter Series (J. K. Rowling)
Magic, friendship, love, family, honor, purpose:  what more can you ask for in a series?

-- The Heather Wells Series (Meg Cabot)
Former teen pop star becomes a sleuthing Residence Hall managing assistant (with a little weight gain).  Perfect for the beach or any vacation time.

-- The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
The first book of this popular series draws you into the world of Katniss (and Panem) so quickly, you can't help but be caught up in her fight for survival.  If you plan on finishing the series, the third book is really intense (but still good) for a light summer read.  My opinion:  save it for Fall/Winter ;)

-- I, Alex Cross (James Patterson)
Of all the detective novels I read, this has it all: avenging murder, serial killer, political intrigue, and much more.  Even if you're not familiar with the other Alex Cross novels, you can definitely follow along.

-- Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series (Rick Riordan)
For a lover of Greek mythology, this series is a MUST.  Easy to read, full of fun adventures and danger, and well-paced over the five books of the series.  While the first book doesn't leave much of a cliff-hanger, the rest of the books do.  My opinion:  buy them all and plan on finishing the series in a week.

-- Reason and Romance (Debra White Smith)
Of all of White's Jane Austen series, Reason and Romance is the easiest to imagine in real life.  Whether you are cautious about love or wear your heart on your sleeve, this book will reel you in.

-- Shopaholic Series (Sophie Kinsella)
Don't judge this series by the movie (which was pretty good).  I've only read the first half of this series, but she is just too relatable to anyone who majors in retail therapy.  This is the quick and witty romantic/comedy book you want for summer.

-- The Sleeping Beauty Proposal (Sarah Strohmeyer)
Two best friends decide to fake their engagements in order to haul in the complements, gifts, and other perks of engagement.  So what happens when the right guys fall into their laps?  The perfect book for when you want something playful and steamy, but still classy.

Bonus: The Hobbit/LOTR Series (J. R. R. Tolkien)
You can't have an epic adventure in reading without this series.  Though it is a bit of a heavy (i.e. long) read to jump into, Tokien's world is so full of wonder and amazement that you can't help but daydream about living there.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Determination: August Update

Ermahgerd it's the middle of August! (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)  Even though I have completed my summer classes (with three days to spare -- hallelujah!), two more classes begin in FOUR DAYS!!!

Anyways, our goals for August were simple: be prepared for school to begin.  This mainly involved setting up a new Fall schedule and getting our house back in order after the purge of 2012.  This has all been much easier said than done ;)

As far as our "Clean Sweep" goes, we have sorted everything!  Much of what we had leftover in the boxes we were able to combine and re-box; our guest room is much emptier now.  We still need to take care of a few things, like finding somewhere to dump our broken mini-fridge and extra (super old) printer and rearranging the furniture so Doug can work while we still have guests here.  However, we finally have our paperwork sorted and filed neatly, all of our important paperwork is filed, and our new bedroom set-up is working great!  De and Doug 1, Clutter 0.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the new schedule.  I tried going to bed earlier to give me more down time in the mornings, but that has been impossible with Doug's schedule.  (I just can't seem to sleep until he gets home.)  I tried putting mindless things in the morning (like showering and eating breakfast), but that coincided with Doug's morning schedule.  I tried writing myself a "To Do List" the night before.  I didn't even notice it in the morning.  On top of everything, I just am not a morning person. According to my husband, I make "wookie-ish" noises for at least the first 15 minutes I'm awake as a form of communication. You just can't make this stuff up.

Bottom line:  I suck at mornings.  I don't even realize that I should be doing things until I've been up for at least 45 minutes, normally over an hour.

So, I have four days to whip myself into schedule shape.  Here is my plan of attack:
1. Waking Up.  As long as I just wake up when I am scheduled to wake up, I will eventually learn to go to sleep earlier.  I should begin assimilating to the mornings after 4-5 days, so just in time for school beginning.

2. Get Help.  I have enlisted my "morning person" husband to help get me going in the morning; mainly, he just needs to remind me what I am supposed to be doing.  I am also going to post my schedule next to my work area (i.e. on the wall by my side of the bed) and try to look at it a few times every day.  I also want to do things at night to help me in the mornings, like a scavenger hunt.  Why is my shampoo next to the bed?  I need to shower right now!  Why is my yoga mat in the bathroom?  I should stretch!  Seriously.  I need that much help in the mornings.

3. Bank on Adrenaline. I am a school junkie.  Other parents pulled their kids out of the toy section at the store; mine pulled me away from the school section.  I have a secret obsession with graph paper.  I buy new notebooks and composition books even if I don't need them.  I love planners, highlighters, and Crayola skinny markers (10 pack).  I only use Bic pencils and PaperMate pens.  I am "that kid" who raised their hand to answer every question, who found typos in the syllabus, who had already started on the homework or reading the week before class even began.  And "that kid" will be ready to go on Monday morning.

4. Fill up my time.  One of the problems with following my Fall schedule now is that I am not filling it.  I am not attending a class yet, so I am not needing to get in dress clothes, pack a lunch, and get out the door to drive to class.  I do not have homework that needs done.  I do not have extra laundry to do.  Once these things start up on Monday, I will be able to follow my schedule because I will be doing everything on my schedule.

While all this seems crazy, I really do think it will work!  And if it doesn't, that just means I need to re-evaluate and rework my schedule once more.

P.S. I have already read FOUR books this month (all new)!  I am working on a fifth book, and I need to finish at least one book for school by the end of the month.  Plus, I will be going through the Percy Jackson series and the Heroes of Olympus series in preparation for Mark of Athena's release!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

After a few days of sorting and cleaning our apartment, sorting and filing paperwork, and moving my friend Sarah into the dorms...we can finally get a menu together and go shopping!!!

Wednesday:  Leftovers
Thursday:  Grilled Chicken w/ Buffalo Rice and Roasted Squash
Friday:  Pork Stir-Fry w/ Asian Rice
Saturday:  Meatloaf w/ Broiled Potatoes and Broccoli/cheddar
Sunday:  Broiled Cod w/ Grilled Eggplant and Pasta
Monday:  Breaded Pork w/ Roasted Red Potatoes and Roasted Zucchini
Tuesday:  Burgers w/Mixed Veggies

Last week's menu turned out great, and we had a "leftover" meal that we could use this week.  PLUS, the Mini Wellingtons were fantastic!  I was worried about the crescent rolls burning or the meat not cooking through, but 20-25 min in the oven still gave us flaky pastry and medium-well meatball centers.  I ended up making my own mushroom mix to add in:  one small can mushroom slices (drained) and 1/2 package Italian dressing mix.  I pulsed it in my Magic Bullet, which quickly gave me a thick and savory paste to add inside the Wellingtons!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Aug 12-18)

It is the middle of August. Wow.

This week I get to finish a class (whoo-hoo!) and prep to begin two more classes next week!  Since I am taking a residential class for the first time in a while, I really need to get used to my new Fall schedule.  Plus, college students are flocking back to Lynchburg this weekend, so I better stock up on things for the house since running to Walmart in the next two weeks is out of the question ;)

1.  Three presentations
2.  Submit Reading Log (due 8/17)
3.  Final Exam (due 8/17)

4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Rearrange Guest Room
6.  Begin sorting/filing paperwork

7.  Try new DVD workouts
8.  Get on new schedule!
9.  Prep for school starting on Monday

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Aug 5-11)

This week was so crazy, but I got a lot accomplished!

1.  Research Paper (due 8/12)
2.  Two Presentations -- focused on my paper; now I have extra time for presentations

3.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
4.  Guest Room -- sorted and cleaned, ready to move furniture
5.  Everything sorted/ready for classes to begin

6.  Workouts/Gym
7.  Get a good start on the new schedule -- tried and failed!  I was able to rearrange my schedule a bit though, which should help me get on track next week.
8.  Use up my Kohl's Cash ;)

Monday was a rough day.  All of my stress for the last month caught up with me, and I totally broke down.  Now, there were a few extenuating circumstances that pushed me over the edge, but it was just a rough, rough day.  Doug and my parents were especially helpful in encouraging me and helping me to work through the situations.

Because of that, my new schedule got off to a really rocky start.  I managed to begin working towards my schedule, but I also made some changes in it to make it easier to adjust in the next week!  Doug and I emptied out the guest room and sorted through tons of boxes, getting rid of another two bags of garbage!  Wow!  There is still rearranging to be done, and I still have paperwork to sort through in the next week.

Above all, this week was a great reminder of how faithful God is.  My research paper touched on this theme (specifically in Genesis), which kept this truth in front of me all week.  God is always faithful.  God is faithful when we don't deserve it.  God is faithful in small things and in big things.  God is always faithful!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

Doug and I are finally working the full fridge and freezer, and it has been GREAT!  This week's menu was super easy since we had meat, veggies, and sides already in the house.  What a concept!  Since the parking lot at our complex was being sealed/painted, we decided to wait until Thursday morning to go shopping = pulling form the pantry ;)

Thursday -- Broiled Cod w/ Parmesan Pasta and Broccoli w/cheese
Friday -- Brats w/Peppers and Onions and Chips/Dip
Saturday -- Eating Out (paper-writing week!)
Sunday -- Baked Pork w/Roasted Red Potatoes and Roasted Squash
Monday -- Mini Sirloin Wellingtons w/ Grilled Asparagus and Buttered Orzo
Tuesday -- Grilled Chicken w/ Buffalo Rice and Zucchini Cakes

Fun things this week:
Mini Wellingtons -- when ground sirloin went on sale, I bought a pound "just because."  After thinking a bit, I thought making some mini wellingtons would be great!  I plan on making sirloin meatballs, wrapping them in some crescent dough (which we like more than puff pastry), and adding some sliced mushrooms.  Easy and yummy.  Asparagus and ozro make it seem upscale ;)

Orzo.  Speaking of orzo, I have a confession:  I have never cooked orzo before!!!  I am such a bad Italian!  Anyways, I got a small box when it was on sale a few months ago 'just because" (I do a lot of "just because" shopping when we have extra grocery money), and I am really excited to make some!  They only part I'm worried about is adding the right herbs in the right amount.  I will probably go on a recipe hunt for ideas.

Zucchini Cakes.  My fav!  I love these so much!  Not only are they easy to make, they also keep well in the fridge (= make a big batch to last awhile) and are a great light snack.  They are also a bit nostalgic for me; they remind me of my family!  It has been awhile since I made them, and this time I will attempt to do so without using eggs (since I prefer not to eat food I'm allergic to).  This will be an experiment, but hopefully I will end up with some yummy sides/snacks...if all else fails, make muffins ;)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Aug 5-11)

12 days til my class ends!  Two weeks til Fall classes start!  Guest room left to clean and redecorate!  New schedule to begin!  OH MY!

1.  Research Paper (due 8/12)
2.  Two Presentations

3.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
4.  Guest Room -- sorted and cleaned, ready to move furniture
5.  Everything sorted/ready for classes to begin

6.  Workouts/Gym
7.  Get a good start on the new schedule (5/7 days = good, 6/7 = great, 7/7 = amazing!)
8.  Use up my Kohl's Cash ;)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (July 29-Aug 4)

So this week was pretty great!  I still can't believe it's August.  It's, like, almost a week into August, and I still don't feel Augusty yet.  Although I am having dreams about school, classes, and such...which would be weird if I wasn't in classes now.  Anyways...

1.  Four presentations
2.  Exam 2 (due 8/5)
3.  Reading, roughly 150 pgs

4.  Menu/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Clean out Guest Room -- a little bit more sorted (ie stacked nicely) but still needs to be done!
6.  Finish Back to School Shopping

7.  Gym and workouts -- once again, homework took over my afternoons
8.  Prep to begin Fall Schedule (on 8/6)
9.  Take a day off to relax

Even though I know this week was good, it has been a "black hole" week.  I sat here for awhile trying to remember what even happened this week (at least I remember yesterday...and parts of the day before), but sometimes you just run on autopilot and get to the end of the week not really knowing what happened to the rest of it.

For me, this week began with a family emergency (with my extended family) which through everyone off.  I know I spent a lot of time this week talking with my mom and my gram, but the rest of the week is just fuzzy.  I did all my homework.  I went grocery shopping and cooked meals all week.  I did some workouts at home.  I woke up and went to sleep and watched my favorite TV shows at night (Jeopardy, Big Brother, Pretty Little Liars, and numerous cooking shows).  I played games.

Anyways, tomorrow starts a dry run of the new Fall Schedule, which includes me waking up about an hour earlier than normal!  Eek!  I did put some extra time in my morning routine simply so I could still squeeze everything in if I hit my snooze once...or twice...or more, but the biggest challenge will be trying to go to sleep early!  It's just hard on the nights where Doug is still at work, so I will have to push myself to sleep...or get used to sleeping less per night :(