Thursday, October 30, 2014

Let’s Bullet Point!

It’s been a while, right?

I’ve had a lot going on and unfortunately, for my amazing followers, you’ve had to suffer as blogging was knocked down on my priority list. I know this must have been a terrible time for you. I sincerely apologize.

But, I’m starting re-prioritize (actually, I’m just organizing my time better) and am planning on getting back into the blogging world. I figured I’d start with a bullet point list of what’s currently going on with me and then follow-up those bullet points with posts over the next couple of weeks. Sounds peachy, don’t it?

  • We’ve started our own dirt work/contracting business!
    ALServices 

    And by we, I mean my husband does all the actual work & I’m figuring out all the behind-the-scenes stuff. It’s been interesting. I didn’t talk about it much (or maybe not at all) but he quit his full-time job last December (by trade he is a plumber) and so over the course of this past year, this has just been the natural progression of things.
  • We lost Biscuit. I have at least two separate drafts dedicated to her that I haven’t been able to finish, I will get there eventually. She nestled her little wiry body into our hearts in a very short period of time & (hell, I’m tearing up right now) this was honestly the first animal I ever connected with so deeply. She was part of our family, she still is. I miss her very much.Puppy Love
  • I was in a play for our local community theatre! I used to do these regularly (prior to having my daughter) so this was the first one back, and it was wonderful. I was actually a theatre major my first semester in college and had plans to be an actress someday. Once I realized how much sacrifice and work goes into being a paid actress, I changed my major & settled with doing local theatre whenever I could to get my acting fix in. Rockin' Around The Bed Posts
  • I’ve been given the opportunity to join Team Beef! Per their website, “Texas Beef Team is a community of runners, triathletes and cyclists who recognize benefits of lean beef and the vital role high-quality protein plays in their training.” You have to apply and I applied when I first started running but was not accepted, so when their email came this go around I was jumping out of my skin excited. I have an orientation session November 9th to explain what is expected of me as a member of this team. I am really eager to see what 2015 brings me in terms of my fitness.
  • Speaking of fitness, I am still hitting the weights & can definitely tell a difference in my strength. As in, I can actually bench press more than the bar & feel like I’m not a complete amateur in the free weights section of the gym. I give credit to www.bodybuilding.com and their free phone app Bodyspace with giving me the tools to move past my insecurities and squat this shit out. I will continue to lift but will probably cut back to make room for a little more running in 2015. I petered out after my marathon in April & haven’t quite figured out where to focus my energy but I’m ready to make some PRs (Personal Records) in my 5k, 10k and half times. Like I said, eager to see where 2015 brings me.IMG_4685
  • And lastly, Lillie is basically an adult now. At the very least, she’s a card carrying princess. I mean, look at her. It’s hard to believe she’ll be 4 years old in the next couple of weeks.
    Princess Lillie Fishing Like A Boss Well, I end this post here & I’ll do a more detailed recap on some of the things I mentioned. Hope everyone has a Happy Halloween tomorrow evening!
    IMG_4894
     
     

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why She Stayed

What I’m about to share is a part of my story, a part of my life and is only told from my perspective. One thing I’ve learned is there is always two sides to a story and so I do not pretend to know everything that took place to lead to this ending.


I’m not really into sports. Like, I know the fundamentals but I don’t make it a point to watch them on television so any kind of sports commentary is quickly skimmed over and placed in the waste receptacle in the back of my brain. After all, I have to make room for training plans and dinner ideas for a 3 year old and which shoes to buy to annoy my husband. You know, important things.

So, when Ray Rice, a football player for the Baltimore Ravens, was indicted for aggravated assault towards his fiancé (now wife) in March of this year – I didn’t hear about it. I simply don’t recall anything about it on the news – now, that could be because I’m sports deaf or it could be because it just wasn’t that big of a deal to the news media because he’s you know, a famous football player and his fiancé was not.

But now it has become a big deal - because a video of the assault has surfaced. You can view it by clicking here. If you haven’t seen it, or really aren’t interested, Ray punches her (Janay) in the face hard enough to knock her unconscious and drags her body out of the elevator (security cameras caught this). It’s domestic violence. Straight-up.

I’ve talked a bit about my mother in past posts, she is an amazing person whose positive outlook on life would never let you know that she was a victim of domestic violence. Sure, you could probably tell by the bruises, the black eyes, the scratch marks if you wanted to see those things but most people didn’t. But I saw them, I saw them every day of the week – I dreaded the weekends (when things were more likely to escalate) growing up and I did everything I could to never be home. I was really fortunate to have a couple of great friends with wonderful parents who did their best to protect me and my siblings, but they could only do so much.

I was 9 the first time I saw him hit her. I did what I was taught in school – I called 911. She cried for me not too because it would make it worse. I never thought it could be worse than that. It was explained to me that sometimes adults fight – she was my mom and why would she lie to me, so I just said okay. This was in the early stages of their relationship, we lived close to our family, and these “occurrences” were very spaced out. To a 9 year old who knows very little about the world, I took what my mother and he said and tucked it away. Sometimes adults fight. Big deal.

But then we moved. We moved to a city where all of his family lived and none of ours did – and things got worse. The violence became not only more frequent but more vicious , the blood splatter across the carpet became increasingly difficult to clean and the more I ventured out and witnessed my friends’ parents relationship I became more and more ashamed of my home life.  I didn’t want any of my friends to know what was happening, so I would lie and say I wasn’t allowed to have sleepovers. I never knew when a fight was coming and couldn’t risk it. That was, until my mom promised me for my 13th birthday she would make sure he wasn’t around so I could have one of those coveted middle school sleepovers I had only every participated in but never hosted.

I invited friends, we rented scary movies, and holed up in my living room – I felt normal and happy. We had all went bowling earlier and hopped up on Surge and cake. But then he came home. And he was drunk. And she was insistent he leave (full disclosure, she too had been drinking) because she had promised me he wouldn’t be around. He got mad, lashed out and I was standing there screaming at them to stop.

They didn’t. They never stopped. I don’t know why I thought this night would be any different.

He drug her by the hair into the kitchen and one of my friends called the police while I begged them all not to say anything to anyone. I tried to play it cool but that’s really kind of hard when the police officer comes to your front door and knows you by name - not because someone told him but because he had been there enough times to remember. And then, you know, you have to sit in his police cruiser filling out a police report of what happened on your 13th birthday while your friends called their parents to come pick them up.

At school on Monday, I vividly remember sitting in the library at a table for four and some girl I didn’t really know leaned over and said, “So, your dad beats your mom”. I quickly cleared up the fact that he was not my dad but then what else do you say to that other than, “Yes, it happened.” And then silently think to yourself as you watch the look of pity and disgust come across someone else’s face and think, “Wow, my mom is one of those women.”

I hated that she thought she wasn’t more, I hated that she allowed this to take place in front of us – that we weren’t enough for her to leave, but mostly I just hated. I can’t tell you the number of times I researched safe homes, was offered a place to stay for all of us, and then told my mom we could do this, we could get away. She would dismiss it with a wave of her hand as if to say, “Silly girl. You don’t know.”

She was right, I didn’t know. I had no idea what she thought he was capable of but there was one time she answered. They just had a fight, her face was swollen but no blood this time – although, I could tell her cheek would be bruised in the morning – she sat next to me on the bed and apologized. I was 11.

She apologized for screaming my name while he hit her, she apologized for the fact that he ripped the phone out of the wall so I couldn’t call the police to help, she apologized for him and as we went through what was now a routine apology, I asked again - “Mom, why don’t we leave?”

And she turned her head slowly, looked me straight into my eyes and said, “Because he will kill me.”

And two years later, if he hadn’t been too drunk/high to take the gun off of safety – she would have. Instead, she shot him. Years of abuse and she was finally free of him. It cost her children, it cost her freedom, it cost her name – but nearly 5 years later she was finally released from prison after being charged with manslaughter.

I don’t know exactly what happened that night. We were lucky enough to be visiting with family in Texas when the phone call came in that Mom was in jail and he was dead. I’ve never pushed Mom to explain in detail one of the most terrifying nights of her life, although she has shared bits of it over the years with me. But there’s one thing I do know – she stayed with him because she was scared for her life.

She wasn’t strong enough – and a lot of that has to do with her own childhood. Things I learned later on as an adult. Things I won’t share because those are not part of my experience. But they are things that help me piece together why I wasn’t enough for her to leave. On why it’s not as easy as just getting up and going when it comes to domestic abuse (verbal or non-verbal). There is so much more to it than anyone can know.

No one, man or woman, deserves to be abused. I’ve shared with you one story of many I have growing up witnessing domestic violence – and there were times when my mom fought back. He would be the one to wake up with a bruised eye or swollen lip.

So, Ray Rice beat his fiancé. She’s now his wife. People can’t understand why she’d choose to be with him after that and so they make assumptions.

She’s only with him because he’s rich.
She must be really stupid.
If she’s sticking around, she deserves it.

I can’t pretend to know what their relationship dynamic looks like, I just have my own perspective into this world – and having a little empathy/sympathy can go a long way in helping people find their way. Whether that way is to overcoming anger issues by counseling (which they have been involved in & I hope it works for them) or whether that way is packing it up and leaving – just be a human being and acknowledge each other for what you are and for what you hope to be – someone who is capable, who is beautiful, who is strong. 1619445_776791332331471_1851068138_n

Friday, August 29, 2014

Roasted Asparagus with Mushrooms

I’m trying to hit 5 new recipes for the month of August – this one is my third. I have a couple days left to hit two more, so wish me luck!

New Recipe 1: Spinach Mushroom Chicken Enchiladas
New Recipe 2: Easy (chick)Peasy Artichoke Salad

Just as in the other two recipes, I’ll outline the pinspiration in black and then my changes/substitutions/notes in red.

Roasted Asparagus with Mushrooms

Roasted Asparagus & Mushrooms

The inspiration came from this pin (which admittedly looks much better than my iPhone concoction that you’ll see at the end of the post) and the original recipe is found on Food.com (or click here).
Roasted Asparagus with Mushrooms. Photo by Rita~

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 lbs medium asparagus, tough stem ends trimmed
  • 1/2 lb medium white button mushrooms, stemmed & quartered (I had a 10 oz package of Bella Mushrooms already sliced I picked up because I have an infatuation with them but white button mushrooms would have been super yummy as well)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste (I also sprinkled with garlic and onion powder)
  • 2-3 tsp balsamic vinegar or 2-3 tsp sherry wine vinegar (I had neither of those things, but I found some red wine vinegar in my cabinet, cooking win!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. In a non-stick baking sheet with sides (I actually always cover mine in aluminum foil when roasting things because I think they brown better), toss the asparagus and mushrooms with the oil and season with salt and pepper. (And onion/garlic powder.)
  3. Spread vegetables in a single layer. (Or as close as possible, I didn’t quite do this and missed out on some good browning of the asparagus)
  4. Roast for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and browned, turning once or twice. (I was in the middle of getting the kid ready for bed, so I think they stayed in for 20 minutes and were never turned. #reallife)
  5. Place vegetables on serving platter. (hahahahahahahaha)
  6. Sprinkle vegetables with (red wine) vinegar and toss gently to combine.
  7. Season with additional salt and pepper as desired. (We didn’t feel like we needed too.)
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature. (We were hangry, so they were served hot.)
  9. Makes 4 servings.

Overall, this was a really yummy, quick and easy side dish. I would definitely make it again, although I would make sure everything is in a single layer to get that slightly burned/roasted flavor & coloring that I like on my veggies. Alfred really liked the flavor and I will probably try the balsamic vinegar next time I make it, just to see what the difference in flavor is for the two.

IMG_4551

I made honey & mustard boneless pork chop with it and then some Kraft Ranch Pasta salad (husband’s favorite). It all paired up really well and actually, the pork chop was a new recipe for me but I was so focused on the asparagus and mushroom I didn’t make any notes on it. LIFE WINNER.

Any new recipes in your life lately?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Little Things

Lehmann Laughter

If you’re new here, this link-up is every Wednesday (until the 30 weeks are up). It’s based off these two articles – here and here. You are welcome to take the points in any direction you choose, what I go off of is only something to get the ol’ brain ticking. Original post is here.

I hope you’ll join me!

Previous posts: Week 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15, 16, 17, 18,19, 20 & 21.


Week 22


Appreciating the Small Things
What are some small things you are grateful for?


9 years ago I married my husband. Total years we’ve been together 13. I’ve almost had him in my life longer than I haven’t had in him my life – we started dating when I was 16. Such babies.  Prom 2002


I won’t pretend and say our life together has been picture perfect, there has been fights, accusations & lies directed towards/at each other but I would still say we have a very happy marriage. The ups we have had very much outweigh and outnumber the downs we have. I think the one constant that has helped us is being appreciative of what the other person brings into our marriage.


Alfred is one of the most driven people I know and he knows how to push to get what he wants – I, on the other hand, am much more laidback, go with the flow. The balance this not only plays in our marriage but in other aspects of our life is something we had to get used to but once we did, it’s helped me push for more out of my life and allowed him to pull the reins in once in a while and just enjoy life.Lake days!

It’s the little things in life that can either prop you up or push you down, most of the time you don’t even realize it until it’s too late and an argument has began. I try really hard to make sure he knows I appreciate all the things he does & I feel like he does it with me as well.  

Example 1: Even though it’s Alfred’s “job” to take out the trash, I still tell him thank you every time he does it (even if there is some prodding on my part) and whenever I make dinner, the first thing out of his mouth after the first bite is shoved in is thank you.

First 10k!


Example 2: Running is not Alfred’s thing. But he’s supportive and will come to support me in my races even though he basically just sits there and watches sweaty people jump up & down and apply band-aids to places people shouldn’t have to apply band-aids too. Farming is his thing, he grew up with it, so I’m clueless in that aspect & am only vaguely interested most of the time but I make sure to acknowledge what’s going on his world so we can talk about it whenever he’s had a rough day.


This lined up pretty well with it being our anniversary and the weekly writing prompt. One might think I planned it that way, but one would be wrong.


In any case, here’s to 9 years of all the small things he’s done for me that he didn’t have to do but I’m totally glad he did. Hopefully I can squeeze at least 9 more out of him. I think I got it.IMG_2293


What small things in your life do you appreciate?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Runners Tell All: What is your training routine?

I decided to do something crazy. Something wild. Something insane.
I’m sponsoring this month’s Runners Tell All! I know, cuh-razy, but I figured in honor of my birthday month (no shame in shouting out my own birthday – it’s this Saturday by the way) I’d step a little out of my blogging comfort zone. Life is good when you’re about to be twenty-fine (not a typo), so let’s get started!

Training Routine.
This prompt couldn’t have come at a better time seeing as I just started training for my fall races last week. I mostly took off from running over the summer because I had a non-fractured foot that was healing and wanted to try my hand at weight lifting.
For the past two years I’ve really enjoyed learning to love the run itself and haven’t been crazy interested in getting faster. But then my marathon happened (or didn’t happen) and I know if I would have been faster I would have completed the race – so I’ve decided to start from the bottom up. That 5k time is going down this fall.

Like all of you, I have a busy life - working full-time, being a mother to an incredibly awesome 3 year old and a wife to a very studly 31 year old – so in order to get my workouts in my best option is my lunch hour. It’s not for everyone but I work in Higher Education and have the luxury of free access to the gym. It’s literally a 2 minute walk from my office. My excuses are limited. Le sigh.
Today, I wanted to share with you a few of my training routine tips that help me get in and out of the gym in less than an hour and still looking somewhat presentable.
Tam's Tips
  1. Pack your bag. I (really try to) pack my gym back the night before and put it in my truck – that way the excuse “I don’t have my stuff” won’t technically work. Especially when my mind is telling me I should take a nap in my truck instead. (For the record, lunch hour quickie naps are the best.)

    If you’re able, I would recommend renting a locker so you don’t have to tote a ton of stuff every day. You can keep your essentials in there. A few things in mine are: deodorant, blow dryer (with a cool setting), dry shampoo, and extra hair ties/bobby pins. I also keep out my printed workout sheets as a fall-back plan (see #1) in a little pile that I can pull from if need be.

    Things in my gym bag: clean dry underwear.

    I don’t know about you but I sweat like a chicken in a deep fry competition and to combat that, I need some clean panties. I just can’t get behind butt-sweat. (See what I did there! ha!)

    Other essentials in my bag: gym clothes, tennis shoes, O2 Gold, body wipes, towel, headphones, make-up bag.
    Lies & Truth
  2. Plan your workout. I can’t stress this enough – know exactly what you’re wanting to do when you get to the gym so you don’t waste time wandering around wishing you were eating enchiladas instead. I usually write down my plan of attack on a small piece of paper or put it in the notes section of my phone.

    Also, have a small inkling of a back-up plan in case the equipment you need is full or out-of-order. For me, the first few weeks of the new semester the gym is packed with all the new incoming students wanting to look fly,and I plan accordingly. Treadmills all taken? No worries, I’ll hit up the stair master.

    Since I work so close to my gym, travel time isn’t usually taken into account, but I can generally get a solid 40 minute workout in – with the other 20 minutes spent on changing into and out of my gym clothes. 
  3. Shower or No Shower? Um, can I be real with you guys? I totally don’t take a shower after every workout. Sometimes I’m just not that sweaty to justify wasting 5 minutes rinsing off that could be better spent towards running an extra half mile.

    On those non-shower days, I wipe myself down with a body wipe, apply deodorant, & body spray and BAM, smelling like an artificial rose in no time. On days when I look like this after my workout,
     IMG_4113
    there’s just no way around it despite my best efforts.
  4. Looking Presentable. I keep a blow dryer in my locker that has a cool setting on it (because let’s face it, I ain’t about to blast my body with HOT air after a speed session) and try to wrangle this hair situation I have. Sometimes my hair will have mercy on me and I can go for the beach wave look afterwards and let it dry naturally – most times, it goes in a braid or a bun.
    Mercy

    For make-up, my face usually stays pretty red for about 20 minutes after a workout, so I’ll throw some powder on, fix any smudged eyeliner or mascara and add some lip gloss. Boom. Nailed it. 

I think the best tip I can give you is to keep it simple as possible. The more extras you throw in there, the less time you have to murder that workout.
Oh and I almost forgot to mention this month’s giveaway!
UA top.headband.Beka Beka is super adorable, am I right or am I right?
You can win an Under Armour Tank Top (fitted heat gear, size large) and headband just by following the prompts below!
Now, your turn! Tell us about your training routine by linking up below.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Just Breathe

Lehmann Laughter

If you’re new here, this link-up is every Wednesday (until the 30 weeks are up). It’s based off these two articles – here and here. You are welcome to take the points in any direction you choose, what I go off of is only something to get the ol’ brain ticking. Original post is here.

I hope you’ll join me!

Previous posts: Week 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15, 16, 17, 18,19 & 20.


Week 21!


Just Breathe
When you are busy how do you handle yourself?
Do you force yourself to take breaks or do you push through?


Whenever I’m in go-mode, I’m all for pushing through. I don’t want to stop until it’s done and sometimes that can leave me really frustrated. Like, yelling at nothing frustrated. It’s actually pretty embarrassing and has probably only been witnessed by other people a handful of times – at least one of those times at the gym when I simply couldn’t get my body to do what I thought it should. I’m also a crier, so yay for double the embarrassment!


As I’ve grown older I’ve learned that sometimes stepping away from something particularly stressful for even a few moments can help put a new perspective on things. Even if it’s a quick let me close my eyes for 15 minutes while I breathe deeply and try my hardest not to pull my hair out. I think for the most part I have a handle on my frustrations whenever I can see what the cause of them are. More often than I really care to admit (but I will because, uh, blog life, yo) it’s because of something I failed to do. I didn’t wake up 10 minutes earlier because I was being lazy or I should have gotten gas last night when the reminder light came on and I had time to do so.


It sucks major balls to recognize that your frustrations are typically your fault and not someone else’s. Sometimes I just want to blame the world for my problems but the only one who can be the issuer of my own happiness, my own calm, is me. Ugh, self-reflection, am I right folks?


You cow.



Your turn! Tell me how you handle stressful situations!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Easy (chick)Peasy Artichoke Salad

I was going through my pantry trying to find something interesting to add to our dinner and I came across a can of Garbanzo (Chickpea) beans and a can of artichoke hearts – my initial reaction was “put them back on the shelf and grab a box of Velveeta Shells & Cheese” but since I’ve been actively trying to eat better I thought I should hit up Pinterest to see if these two items would even go together.

Lucky for my pantry (and taste buds!) – they do!

This will be my 2nd new recipe for the month (one of my August goals is to hit 5!) I’ll do the same as I did with the first recipe (Spinach Mushroom Chicken Enchiladas) and post the original recipe and then add my own tweaks in red font. ChickPeasy Artichoke Salad

Photo courtesy of my terrible iPhone – maybe one day I’ll make an effort.

Original post is here.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (I actually used 2 tbsp, divided)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained & rinsed well (they’re also known as Garbanzo beans)
  • 5 to 7 artichoke hearts, drained & sliced lengthwise (I used canned artichoke hearts that were already quartered and I rinsed them)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted if desired (I didn’t have any on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (No lemon juice on hand – substituted with lime juice)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (Substituted 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning – probably could have added more)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced – I add garlic to nearly everything.

Directions

  1. Heat (1 tbsp) oil in a seasoned wok or cast-iron skillet (I just used a plain ol’ skillet). Sauté garlic for 1 minute. Add the chickpeas and cook on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until golden brown all over. (I was helping Lillie color Barbie while cooking so I think they were actually on for 15 minutes). When done, put in a large mixing bowl and set aside. (My bowl was not large. It was husky and beautiful.)
  2. Add more oil (1 tbsp) to the pan and cook the sliced artichoke hearts until browned (between 10-15 minutes for me). Add them to the bowl of chickpeas.
  3. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet & then grind in a food processor. (I didn’t do this part) Add the almonds to the artichokes and chickpeas. Season the salad with lemon (lime) juice and salt, stir in chopped parsley (or dried seasoning). Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition facts from the original post aren’t listed so here is what I got when I plugged it into My Fitness Pal (MFP).

NutritionLabel

I split it up into 4 portions but they’re small portions – this could easily be 1 serving if you were wanting to eat it for like lunch. (The site I got the recipe from actually said the same thing.) I also made meatballs, mashed potatoes & canned peas with this.

Alfred really enjoyed this – he said it was kind of tangy (artichoke hearts) and was something he would like having again in the future. I agreed. Lillie (as usual) insisted she didn’t like it before she even tried it.

In our house I never force her to eat anything she doesn’t like but she does have to try at least one bite. She’s actually really good about it and only sighs in disgust every 2 out of 3 times. I often have her try things multiple times because I’m pretty sure that stubborn bone she gets from her Dad makes her insist she doesn’t like something (even though she does) just to prove to me she was right.

She tried it, said she didn’t like it, so I told her to just leave it on her plate and eat around it. She ate all the chickpeas after I left her alone, so guess her taste buds liked it just fine even if her eyes didn’t.

Any requests/ideas on what to try for my 3rd new recipe of the month? I’m not picky and always open to new things!