Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa Baby...

The first year of this little 'ole blog I did a lavish Christmas Wish List. I don't ever expect to get huge things for Christmas, nor do I really need them, but it's always fun to dream right? Now with the invention of Pinterest I feel like I am constantly creating a ridiculous wish list of things I couldn't even imagine having.

So here's my 2012 edition, I sure hope that Santa becomes my newest blog follower...

1. Cash Money
Lots of it. Enough to pay off all of my student loans, my car and credit card. I won't divulge an exact number, but I'll probably need more than can be seen in this picture...

2. A New Hip
Well it doesn't necessarily have to be new, but Santa if you could magically heal my hip so I can get back to running that would be greatly appreciated!

3. A Cute Old House in Richmond
I want a house with multiple floors and lots of space. Old charm, but new technology. Oh, and huge closets. On a nice road in Richmond. Pretty simple request...

4. All of the clothes on my Pinterest Style Board

5. Craft Room
Where I can paint and keep all of my crafting goodies. Also so I have a room all to myself that boys are NOT allowed in. Lots of pink and frilly girly decoration. And shelving for all of my paints!

Hope that everyone is enjoying the holiday season and that Santa brings you something fun!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back

The past two months have been an interesting ride when it concerns to my health. It's definitely been stressful and I've realized how thankful I am that I have never really been sick or had any major health issues. Until this fall the "biggest" thing I'd ever done to myself was sprain my ankle in high school.

2012 was a wonderful has also been a wonderful year when it comes to my health. I've almost been meat free for a year, I lost some weight I'd been carrying around a bit too long, and I began regularly exercising. I ran my first 5k and really became comfortable with running.

Then I took it a bit too far... There are definitely training programs out there for a reason, and I thought that diverging just a little bit wouldn't be the biggest deal. I went to a wedding out of town and had a crazy week at work and did nothing (except eat too much crap) for two weeks. I decided to jump back in with my running group for our 6 mile run. And then just to make up for it I pushed it another .3 miles making it the longest run I've ever complete.

After this I was walking around gloating at how easy it was to run the 6.3 miles after taking two weeks off. Little did I know that this is how I hurt myself. I still had two weeks left before my 8k, and after trying to do 3 miles and having to stop halfway through because my hip was uncomfortable...I knew it was a bad sign.

I still ran my 8k within my time goal (51:06-which I still need to share with you!) and faster than I had typically ran through training. It didn't hurt much that day but I think I was too cold and too excited to let it get to me. After trying to run on Thanksgiving morning and stopping after half a mile I knew it was definitely time to get things checked out.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of doctors offices and co-pays (annoying). X-rays showed nothing, and considering my hip only hurts when I run and in a way that I cannot describe, I felt pretty helpless attempting to explain things. Finally I went in for an MRI, which made me feel like I was in Grey's Anatomy. Luckily I only went in halfway, I'm not claustrophobic but it would have been pretty creepy to be all the way in their so tight.

What we found can be summed up as this: I do not have a stress fracture (thankfully!) but I do have a part of my hip bone that is inflamed/bruised. If I don't try and heal it, then it could become fractured. Typically people get stress fractures where the yellow arrow is pointing in the large part of the hip bone. I'm still not quite sure if mine is more in the neck or in the ball that fits into the pelvic socket, I think the neck, but the area in the red circle is pretty accurate. The MRI explains it, but of course it's in medical speak.

With my results I got the news that I needed to be off it for three weeks. Three. Weeks. No weight on my right leg. What convenient news to get the week before Christmas when I'm traveling all over the world! The worst part: I have no pain and am completely capable of walking around, but I can't. I'm actually afraid that I'm going to really hurt myself trying to get up & down stairs in crutches and just getting around in general. My underarms, shoulders and back are already killing me. What a sweet first 48 hours!

So I now I will begin again. It may as well be January 2012. After my three weeks I go back to the ortho and we figure out next steps. I'll do some gait analysis and other tests to see if I'm running correctly, though I'm pretty sure I hurt myself but pushing myself. Then I'll slowly get back into running. This means no Princess Half-Marathon for this girl. I definitely bawled when I found out, but I'm guessing 2013 just wasn't the year for my first half. I've always hated the number 3... Unfortunately I can't get a refund on race registration, but I've contacted to see if I can have another person run in my place. If anyone is interested let me know.

Hopefully I won't hurt anyone in the next three weeks as my blood is already boiling at the fact that I can't do things for myself, or do things the way I'd prefer them to be done. And hopefully I won't gain 20 lbs from not moving around at all but stuffing my face with holiday cookies...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Traditions

I think that one of my favorite things (and probably favorite of many) about the holidays are traditions! I believe it's really what makes it or breaks it. You know it's holiday time when the traditions are in full swing and everything just feels right. What's so cool is that everyone has something different that they grew up doing with their families that made it so special.

This year for the first time I won't be with my family on Christmas, as Mr. Charming and I are headed south to celebrate in Georgia with his family. Of course his family has traditions of their own, but it will definitely be different than the holiday that I'm used, and much thought about this makes me so thankful for parents that created such magic for us on the holidays.

We always got to open a fun present on Christmas Eve, usually it was something interactive that we could take with us to the big sha-bang on my Italian side of the family so we'd have something to entertain us. In the past couple of years since we've been older we've switched to getting new pajamas to wear to bed and spend Christmas day in.

Food is of course a large part of the traditions. On Christmas morning we always eat Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and tons of candy from our stockings. Then we're typically good to go until dinner! But of course, you can't forget about holiday treats. My mom bakes up a storm of at least 5 or 6 different kinds of cookies, but one thing everyone always looks forward to is her famous fudge. It's what we would give to teachers at Christmas every year, and our friends and family rave about it. The best part? It's the easiest recipe in the world. So now I'll share with you one of my favorite holiday traditions...

Charming Mama's Easy Peasy Fudge

2 Tbsp. butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups (11.5 oz. package) of chocolate chips*

*Most bags are 12 oz. The extra few chips aren't a huge issue but if you'd like to save a handful to use later just fill up half a shot glass with chips then use the rest of the bag.

Line an 8x8 pan with foil. In a large saucepan combine the butter, evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla and salt over medium heat and stir constantly for 4 to 5 minutes. Bring to boil and then add in the chips, marshmallow and any additional mixins.  Stir constantly and quickly until everything is completely melted and combined. Put in the fridge and chill until hard, overnight should do it.** Use the foil to lift it out of the pan and cut into 2" sqaures.

If you want to double the recipe use a 13x9 pan.

**After the fudge has cooled for a bit, feel free to put some tin foil across the top if you're worried about it soaking up any weird fridge odors.

Change up the flavor of chips for different types of fudge or feel free to use some extract (peppermint) for flavoring. Add nuts, candy or other mixins as preferred.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Future is Bright

I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes get nervous about the future of our country. It has nothing to do with our political leaders or my personal political affiliation. It has to do with kids.

Do you see them? The kids who wear tshirts with vulgar sayings, that are glued to their smart phones and are constantly cruel to each other? First, I wonder what their parents or like, or if they're in the picture. Second, I really ponder what this kid is going to grow up to do in our society. Other than wreak havoc.

Now this is not an assumption of all children of course and I know there are plenty of wonderful ones out there, and great parents that are ensuring their children grow up with good morals and the charge to do good things.

One of my sorority sisters from college shared a video with me that some of her students put together that shows how they want to make a different. Watching this really restored my faith that there's still a really good group of youngins' out there to continue positively influencing this world...

And with that good thought, happy weekend my friends!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Liebster Award

While I've been out and about being a space cadet this fall I came back to my blog to see I've been nominated for The Liebster award by three of my blogging friends, Lindsay @ Typically Late, Sarah @ A T-Shirt and Pearls and Raechel @  My Fancy Life!

The Liebster award is given to an up and coming blogger who has less than 200 followers. Blogs are nominated by fellow bloggers, and while there is not an official organization that runs this or chooses a winner, it is a fun way for bloggers to get to know each other and discover new blogs.

Here are the rules:

1. Post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator sets for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Nominate 11 blogs that you love (also with less than 200 followers). Link them to your post and let them know they have been nominated.
5. No tag backs!

11 random things about me:
1. I drink an entire huge (24 oz) tumbler of water every morning before I have coffee
2. I also very impatiently add sugar and cream to my coffee while our Keurig machine at work is still brewing it
3. I always forget to close out the apps on my iPhone and typically have 30 running at once (and I wonder why it's so slow...)
4. I once met Dakota Fanning and served her ice cream
5. I make multiple to-do lists every day and then ignore them, I think it just makes me feel like I have my life together
6. Every night I routinely put on chapstick and lotion before bed yet I still have ridiculously chapped lips and dry hands
8. After that I neurotically turn my alarm on and off about 20 times just to be sure it's on (no joke)
9. My go-to Starbucks order is a tall Skinny Vanilla Latte
10. I never use the same bullet symbol or structure when I take notes
11. I feel naked without a watch but have a tendency to wear watches with clocks that are ridiculously off or have dead batteries

Since I was tagged 3 times, here are the 3 sets of questions for me to answer. It's a lot but after totally slacking on this poor blog for the past few months I think I can share 33 things with y'all...

Lindsay's Questions:

1. What is your number one “comfort food” and why?
Grilled cheese & tomato soup, hands down. My mom always used to make it and it reminds of me of snow days in elementary school!
2. If you could move anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Australia, or Portland, or Seattle. Not sure I can pick a place but I know it would need to be English speaking.
3. What is your dream job?
The one I have! No, seriously though I love being a college career advisor. The only thing that might top it would be doing my advising job 2-3 days per week and on the other days just trying out new recipes, painting for my Etsy shop and exercising. Now that would be the life!
4. Who would star as you in the movie of your life?
Rachel McAdams...duh!
5. What did you eat for dinner last night?
Grilled ahi tuna and green beans from Outback...and maybe also a huge hunk of bread...
6. What is the next movie that you want to see in theaters?
The Hobbit! Hopefully this weekend coming up?
7. What is your favorite movie quote or song lyric?
"All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it" -We Bought a Zoo
8. Do you have a “go-to” recipe that you make all the time? What is it and why?
Mexican Baked Eggs! So easy, absolutely delicious and a perfect filling meal. Comforting too.
9. Describe your favorite way to de-stress or blow off steam.
Run, have a good cry, a hot shower, read 
10. What’s your favorite app (if you have a smartphone) or website, if you don’t?
Pinterest? Honestly I'd have to say it's between Keeper, which is password protected and holds all of my logins and passwords for just about everything OR my BB&T app so I can on the spot see how little much money I have left...

Sarah's Questions:
1. What is one wish you have for your blog?
Layout. I do like my design but I'd love to change things about the functionality and have a really cool personal header. Any designers out there that want to give me a Christmas present...? ;)
2. What is your favorite ice cream topping?

Wow...loaded question. No seriously, because I can load my ice cream. I typically mainly do toppings on froyo and honestly I always go for fruit, granola some chocolate chips and those fun little mochi things that are a like a marshmallow/gummy crossbreed. 
3. What is your dream vacation?

I would give my right arm to have an entire summer to tour Europe. 
4. Cake or cupcakes?

Cupcakes. Portion control people.
5. What is your favorite accessory and why?

I'm going to generally go with jewelry on that one. It can do SO much to an outfit. I'd probably choose necklaces if I had to pick just one. 
6. Windows down or air conditioning in the car?

Windows down unless my hair needs to look presentable, or if it's hotter than heck outside.
7. What is your favorite holiday and why?

Memorial Day/4th of July/Labor Day...summer, bbqs, beach, beers, friends...who could want more?
8. What is your favorite dessert?

Ice cream. Always.
9. What are two things you carry in your purse at all times?

Business cards and a koozie. Business in the front, party in the back. 
10. Wine, beer, or neither?
Both. I'd prefer wine if I'm staying in at my house but would rather have a beer if I'm out.
11. What is your favorite style of food (Mexican, Italian, Asian, etc...)?

Oooh toughie! Probably a tie between Japanese and Mexican.

Raechel's Questions:

1. What's your go to website for online shopping?
I love Joss & Main though I've only made one purchase. I love and Amazon.
2. Who is your favorite actor/actress?
Drew Barrymore/Rachel McAdams, Ashton Kutcher/Tom Hanks
3. Chapstick or lip gloss?
Chapstick. I don't have time for my hair to get stuck on my face!
4. Favorite time of the year?
Late spring and very very early fall 
5. Current nail polish color if any?
Just took off a gray/purple color and hoping to get red on by the end of the day!
6. What celebrity's style do you love?
Reese Witherspoon or Emma Stone
7. Favorite dinner to make?
See Lindsay's questions #8
8. Any movies out or coming out that you want to see?
See Lindsay's questions #6 + Les Mis
9. Have you decorated for the holidays yet?
The first weekend of December, always!
10. Why did you start blogging?
I originally started a blog to chronicle my adventures during a traveling job with my sorority, Tri Sigma. Afterwards I realized how much I enjoyed it and decided to begin My Semi-Charmed Life as I started grad school. I love to go back and look at my own thoughts and musings at a particular point in time, and have a space to updated friends & family on my life.
11. Favorite app on your phone?
See Lindsay's questions #10

Blogs I'm tagging:
Courtney @ Little Miss MBA

I actually am bad at math, but no I didn't tag 11 because I follow many blogs with massive amounts of followers and the three people that tagged me would have been people I would have tagged too..

Questions for my Nominees:
1. If you could listen to one CD for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
2. What's the first website that you go to when you open your browser?
3. What's the background on your phone?
4. What are you currently listening to? Music? TV?
5. What is one thing you would love to have in your dream house?
6. Biggest pet peeve?
7. What's something crazy/exciting that you'd love to do but are too scared to do?
8. Are there any songs that you know 100% of the lyrics to by heart? 
9. If you could invent something, what would it be?
10. You win a contest to create a new Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor. What would be in it, and what would you name it?
11. What is your current ringtone?

Tag, YOU'RE IT! Oh, and check out the awesome blogs that I tagged!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happiness in a Cookie

Last weekend I took these cookies to a holiday party and they were a hit! They're a great compliment to the super sweet and sugary confections that always seem to dominate the typical holiday cookie lineup. I made the for the first time last holiday season with my mom and it was love at first bite. When I had to bring a cookie I knew this would be the perfect pick!

Salted Dark Chocolate Nutella Thumbprints

-2 cups flour
-1 cup & 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
-2 sticks of butter softened
-1 1/3 cup sugar & 1 cup for rolling
-2 Tsp. kosher salt
-2 large egg yolks at room temperature
-2 Tbsp. heavy cream (I subbed for some unflavored coffee creamer because I knew I wouldn't use the whole thing of cream!)
-2 Tsp. vanilla
-1 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350*. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or foil (FYI don't ever put wax paper in the oven, not that I know from experience or anything...).
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a small bowl.
Combine the butter and 1 1/3 c sugar in a separate bowl. Beat for 2 minutes on low speed, then add the egg yolks, cream and vanilla extract and beat on low until combined.
Add the flour mixture in slowing and beat until just incorporated (the batter will get extremely thick and crumbly!).

Place the remaining cup of sugar in a shallow bowl.
Scoop 30-35 heaping Tbsp. of dough and shape each into a ball. Roll in the sugar to coat evening.
Space the balls 2 inches apart then use your thumb, or back of a spoon, to make an indentation in the top of the cookie, gently flattening the cookies a bit as you work.

Bake one sheet at a time for 10 mins or until the edges are just set, the tops will be soft. If the indentations have lost definition, press again as soon as they come out. Put on a wire wrack to cool. Spoon a bit of Nutella onto the top center of each cookie, wait a minute for it to get melty an use tip of spoon to smooth out in the indentation. Could add some chopped nuts onto the Nutella if you wish.

This dough can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for 1 week or the freezer for 1 month.


Monday, December 10, 2012

It's a Charmed Life

No semi in that title--just charm! So I've definitely be pretty scarce in the blogging world over the past few months and while there's several reasons for that, I'm excited to share one of them. I spent a good deal of time hemming and hawing over the thought of opening an Etsy shop...and then I did it!

Anyone that knows me knows that I very much enjoy being creative in many forms. When I moved into my new apartment I painted quite a few things for us to adorn the walls with, and when I was finished I didn't want to stop. The more I looked into the opportunity and researched about Etsy, I got incredibly more excited.

On November 18 I listed my first piece at It's a Charmed Life gifts! Since then I've sold that original first listing, and am currently finishing up my first custom order. It's been a great experience so far to pursue something I've always enjoyed in more of a professional way.

So check it out and if there's something you'd like to see you can definitely do a custom order request, found on the left side nav bar. Like any good store, of course we have our own social media so please consider following @CharmdLifeGifts and like us on Facebook.

And something extra special for my blogging loves who have stuck around when I left you out in the cold to read my old posts and scour my about pages as neglected this poor little space of the interwebs. Use the code "BLOGGINGCHARMS" until December 31st to receive 10% off of your order! At this point I can ship anything already made to you by Christmas, but might not be able to have a custom order ready before the holiday.

What are you waiting for? Go check it out! Happy Monday lovies, I'm glad to be back!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Can't Even Handle It

I saw this little guy on Pinterest night and am seriously at a loss for words. I just keep staring at it and then squealing and talking in a squeaky little voice. I need it in my life. Now. 

Anyone need an idea of what to get me for Christmas? Well here's a hint...

I promise I'll write a real post tomorrow, easing back into blogging life. Happy Tuesday friends!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Return From the Dead

Don't worry, I'm alive.

How did I not read The Perks of Being a Wallflower until my mid-twenties?

More to come later, missed y'all!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wedding Bells

I am so excited to leave at the crack of dawn early tomorrow morning and head south to FL to be in my friend Morgan's wedding! She is getting married on the beach in Key West and it couldn't be any more perfect for her and her husband to be who have been together since high school (so sweet!). 

Morgan is one of my Tri Sigma sisters and we met when we both worked as consultants for our organization the year after college. We were paired together to work with a few different chapters and this is where Morgan and I really hit it off. We were that odd complimentary pair that worked perfectly together, where one left off the other picked up. Between our skill sets and Morgan's sassy nature we had such a blast on the road.

She's the second of the ladies in the Wolfpack to get married, the last time we were together was last November for our friend Michele's wedding in Chicago. 

We shared a big fat b*$%& sandwich from Are U Hungry and lots of Peachy Paterno ice cream at the creamery while we were at Penn State. At High Point University I introduced the Central Illinois native to Cookout and Bojangles, both of which she loved. 

Even though it's been over two years since we've traveled we still keep in touch and have seen each other several times since then. In college I would have never though I would have such great friends in Tri Sigma that weren't from my own chapter, but Morgan and the entire group of gals we traveled with are just that.

I absolutely cannot wait to share your wedding with you Morg, standing by your side on the beautiful beach is going to be another wonderful memory to add to our friendship. Here's to the soon-to-be Mrs. Kaplan!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall in the South

So maybe I didn't really need the scarf on Sunday, it was 64* and I was wearing flip flops. But isn't that what fall in the South is all about? That and Palmetto trees on your pumpkins. Muchos gracias to Mr. Charming for capturing our first pumpkin experience together. And by together I mean me scraping out the guts and completely carving the pumpkin while he took pictures and made sure our cats didn't jump off the balcony.

Ewww squishy
Nice & clean!

Typical tourist
Yes, we are missing a "1" on our wreath...
Things I learned: using a Sharpie to outline on your pumpkin is a poor decision because you'll still see it after you carve...luckily I realized that after carving the top of it. Additionally, I learned through these pictures I really need to let go of some items of my wardrobe that I'm still wearing even though they're now far too big for me.

On that note, anyone out there interested in funding me to buy some new properly sized clothes? Happy fall y'all!

Monday, October 15, 2012

No Time for Words

It's been pretty busy around here lately, and I have some fun news to share soon about it all! The last week in photos...

Love watching the trees start to change outside of my office
I'm a lucky gal :)
Best Friday night I could have asked for
Finally took some time to explore downtown Richmond this weekend
Have been doing some major nomming lately
Happy Monday folks, let's make it a good one!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hello Fall, Nice to See You Again

So, it got cold yesterday. I'm talking 45* on the way to work in the morning, and 50* on the way home. My mini heater was on in my office all day. It was 66* in the house when I got home (brrrr!), so I kept my jacket and scarf on for a while after officially turning the heat on and waiting for it to kick in.

When I've complained about colder temps to people they always gasp, well you're from the north! First, let's get one thing straight folks: Maryland is not the north. It is below the Mason-Dixon line for one thing, and while I'll admit it's not typically in the grouping of states you'd consider to be "south" it's also most definitely not "north". Additionally, my county flag has a tobacco leaf and my high school was surrounded by fields of it...definitely not north.

Anyways back to my point, yes I'm from Maryland which is pretty much the same weather wise as Richmond. Butttt I lived in North & South Carolina for the past eight-ish years. There was this one year where fall and winter was spent in the Midwest, but I don't like to think about that time as much as I loved the actual experiences of that year.

There were some years where I missed the leaves changing (my college was covered in pines) and getting to bundle up in light fall clothes. But then I got to go to the beach in November or wear shorts in January and it snapped me back in place. I'll just go out there and admit it...

I'm scared of this winter. 

But for right now I'll enjoy what fall has to offer and hope that it just slightly warms back up (high 50s, low 60s--please?) for a while before winter really comes. Because I actually do love fall. I love pumpkins, warm colors, squashes and anything with cinnamon or spice.

I love getting to make dishes like this...even though cutting up squash is a b*$^#.
Look for a recipe on this week's Foodie Friday!
I love getting to wear fall colors and breaking my boots out of summer hibernation!

So I think instead of running away I'm going to start embracing fall and winter. I'm going to be that total cliche blogger and potentially make some season bucket lists. Also so I can research fun places to go around Richmond during the seasons. Hello pumpkin patches!

Are you bitter about chillier weather or totally loving fall yet?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cupcakes + Laziness = Whomp Whomp

Working with college students is a fine balance between providing guidance and advising for them to reach their goals, while also ensuring they have some experiences where they can learn on their own. You can give them a list of ingredients that's missing a few main items, and then they'll learn that if you forget the sugar from your cake--it's not going to be pretty.

College is a time for trial and error, learning from your mistakes, and using that knowledge for sweet successes. It's been an exciting week of students in my office with news of job offers, second round interviews, leads on internships or the conclusion that they really don't want to go to med school. But what's important about these successes, is the hard work and learning along the way that got them there.

Unfortunately you would think that someone who is involved in assisting others through a process like this would also learn about their limits. Wrong! And then I did this...

After my broken/sprained/whatever toe I used it as an excuse to literally not even pick up a 3 lb weight this week. I did nothing, nada. Each day I had the hopes of doing something the day after, and then I didn't. Instead I ate dinner out twice, along with two lunches at the campus dining hall. Oh and I think I forgot that extra sugary, buttery cupcake and Sweet Frog last night...

Somehow I thought I could act like this all week and then get up and bounce out the door on a great three mile run this morning. I think hitting five miles last week made me feel a bit invincible. I barely made it to two miles and stopped several times. It. felt. awful.

So now I hope I'll learn from this and get my act together this week. I think it's definitely going to be a hard week getting back into the groove, I can honestly feel the different in my body after just seven days

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

Can you guess which cereal is mine and which ones are Mr. Charming's? And not by the type of cereal...

There are definitely a few things to get used to when living with a guy and this has been one of them. Thankfully we don't eat the same kinds of cereal.

Made me laugh when I opened up our cabinet this morning. Happy Wednesday friends!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Top 5 Tuesday: Blogging Tips

It's hard to believe that this little 'ole blog started more than two years ago! I have such fun time chronicling my travels, adventures in the kitchen, and my new found love affair with running. Everyone blogs for a different reason, I blog to remember. I've tried to keep a journal too many times to count, and it's just not for me. I do however, like to look at back at memories and what I was thinking during certain parts in my life.

Blogging gives me that and more because I can share it with those I love that I can't see or talk to everyday, and now to new blogging friends as well. Even things as simple as looking back at what substitutions or adjustments I made to a recipe, or steps I took to make a craft, are so worthwhile for me.

There are a few tips that I think every blogger should take note of, and it took me a while to catch on to some of these so no worries if you're thinking "Oh, that's ME!" So go take a look at your settings, and adjust accordingly!

1. No-Reply Commenters. Don't be one--plain and simple! What does this mean? Sometimes my lovely readers will leave me comments, and I like to respond via email. However, if you don't have a simple little box clicked then I can't respond to you, bummer. Easy as pie to fix...
     -Go to edit your Blogger Profile
     -Check the "Show my email address" box--that's it!

2. Word Verification. Ever go to comment on a post and then you have to type those obnoxious letters and numbers that you can barely see into a box to prove you're not a robot? I typically still comment, but sometimes I honestly won't go through the hassle. Disable it with these steps:
    -"Settings" to "Posts and Comments"
    -Under "Show word verifcation" select "no" from the dropdown--ta da!

3. Follow Me! For my friends on blogger, when I find your site and fall in love with it I of course want to be your newest follower and fan. However, when I have to scroll down to the bottom of your side bar to see the "follow" button I sometimes don't make it. I haven't done any research but I feel like the higher it is on your page, you're more likely to get more followers!

4. About Me. I've just found your blog, I love the posts I've read and you have the cutest design! But I want to know...who are you? I really enjoy reading the "About Me" page on blogs and learning a bit about the author, what they like, what they typically blog about and other random facts. It might be my deciding factor in whether or not I continue to follow.

5. Bloglovin'. I have no clue how I just discovered this site a few weeks ago, but needed to share with the world. I had heard of it, and seen the buttons on different blogs but hadn't explored it. It's my new favorite reader. I like to read all different blogs on all different hosting sites and it lets you conveniently add almost any blog that you'd like. You can view the actual site within the bloglovin' frame and just hit "next" to go further down your list. It's made keeping up with my favorite blogs so much easier. Consider putting a button on your page--and going to the one on my right sidebar and clicking "follow"!

Hope this can be helpful for ya! What other tips do you have for fellow bloggers? Anything along these lines I don't have put in place that drives you bonkers?

Monday, October 1, 2012

This Little Piggy...

...should be the one that goes to the doctor. I'm pretty sure that doesn't even happen in the song does it?

I need a pedicure like whoah--don't judge
Well, it should anyways.

Now that I've grossed you out, let's actually rewind to Saturday. Guess what I did that day? I ran this many...

For the first. time. ever. Seeing "five" on my training schedule was pretty daunting considering a few things:
1. I've never ran more than four miles at once
2. My long run of four miles last week in Columbia was absolutely awful

But I got up early on Saturday, ate something decent, chugged some water and headed out to meet my running group. Since it was Family Weekend on campus, we did an off campus run on Grove Ave. which is an absolutely gorgeous road full of amazing old houses and other fun scenery. I've driven down it a few times, but I knew it would be a good thing for my run. Just Google some houses on that road, so nice.

It was cool outside and wore a nice workout tank which made me feel much like a runner than my typical t-shirt. I even went back to my "Alternative Endurance Workout" Pandora station and enjoyed some chill tunes as opposed to GirlTalk. I pretended that I was looking for a house and took in anything and everything about each one I saw. I crossed the paths of many more runners, walkers, bikers, and a few annoying families with multiple strollers and dogs (really?).

Once I ran over a bridge that took me across I-64 and I recognized the directional signs on the highway from when I drive downtown, I felt so legit. I kept my eyes peeled for the cross street that was supposed to signal me to turn around, but it was on the other side of the road. Once I ran into our running group leader (who had a much longer run) I knew I should turn around, so I actually ran 5.2.

When someone came on my Nike + to let me know I had reached my goal I was so happy it was crazy. I was smiling like a goof, and it gave me the extra motivation to keep going as I wasn't back at our original meeting place due to missing my cross street. For the first time I thought about the half marathon I'm running in February and I didn't feel panicked. Honestly, I felt like I could have kept going.

I made it back to the church we began at, stretched and chatted with some group mates before leaving. After a nice shower and getting myself together I even treated myself to the first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season...

I even got whipped cream--I can't remember the last time I said "yes please!" when the friendly barista asked if I cared for it. After I got it and had a sip I turned to Mr. Charming and said "I feel so naughty!" It was so wonderful to treat myself after accomplishing my goal. Now that I've hit 5 miles I'm going to focus on  shaving off some time on my pace before the 8k in November.

So are you still wondering about my toe? Well yesterday I was pretty hyper and asked MC if I could try and pick him up because I was also feeling like the Incredible Hulk. It didn't work--so maybe a piggy back? As I attempted, we're not quite sure what happened but my foot hit him and/or our coffee table. I noticed that it hurt when I shoved it in a pair of flats to go down to a sorority meeting at VCU last night and this morning it was swollen.

My idiot self still tried to shove in a shoe yet again to go to work, and by the time I got there I was hobbling. I grabbed a pair of sandals on the way out the door so thankfully slipped into those. So I'm not too sure I'll get my four miles in tomorrow, I may sub some quality time on the bike to get in some cardio.

I still can't believe that I ran five miles without dying, and I still can't believe that my toe looks like it lost a fight. But hey, I guess ya win some, ya lose some right?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Foodie Friday: Breakfast of Champions

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast for sure, I even have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to this spectacular meal! Not only is it the most important meal of the day, but I feel like it's the one meal where I really mix it up and have some variety from day to day. Unfortunately during the week I can't indulge in cooking up some eggs, veggies, grits and more, so I've become a master of quick, easy, and filling breakfast choices in the past few years.

I like to get up early and have plenty of time to get ready in the morning before I head out of the house, so typically I have five or ten minutes to actually sit down and eat. When this doesn't happen, I have some quick smoothie or take-a-long breakfast meals that are accessible. Breakfast is a really important meal for me, because I feel like I tend to get super hungry by the time lunch rolls around. So a mid-morning snack is also something I usually plan for.

First off, since I share so many different recipes, I've had someone ask me what I typically keep in my pantry/fridge. When it comes to items for breakfast (weekday or weekend) these are always a staple:

-Frozen fruit (berries, pineapple, peaches)
-Greek Yogurt (typically plain Chobani)
-Granola (Love Grown or Kashi Go Lean Crunch Cereal)
-Flax seed
-Chopped Walnuts
-Peanut Butter & Almond Butter
-Silk or Almond Milk
-Multigrain Frozen Waffles (I just get Eggos!)
-Spinach (just wait, I'll explain)
-Eggs or liquid eggs (typically both)
-Grapefruit (this kind rocks!)

Sometimes I might also pick up whole grain English Muffins or cottage cheese at the store too--gettin' crazy!

My first go-to breakfast for a while has been Greek Yogurt, though it's now not as frequent in my rotation. If you use the Kashi cereal instead of regular granola you up the protein even more--I typically don't need a snack with this guy!

Greek Yogurt + fruit (whatever kind you like) + granola + a bit of honey/sweetener (optional) 

Breakfast to-go eaten at work
When it starts to get cold, oatmeal is a great choice to warm you up for the day! I just use a packet of plain instant oatmeal and add a variety of things to spice it up. Here are a few of my variations:

Banana + peanut butter + drop of honey
Honey + chopped walnuts + chopped prunes (don't knock it 'til you try it)
Berries + chopped walnuts

Yes, that would be the Hunger Games in the background!
As soon as I bought a Ninja food processor/blender this summer I was on a total smoothie kick! Even better, our model has three smoothie cups with a different blender attachment where you can blend right in the cup. Hello convenience! I've experimented with a variety of different smoothies, all containing fruit, some with yogurt and even...the Green smoothie. This one scares Mr. Charming, but I don't care because it's yummy and I get a serving of vegetables before I even get to work. Some of my most used combos:

Green Machine: one banana + two big handfuls of spinach + flax seed + 3/4 c. Silk (pour over ice)
1/2 c. Greek Yogurt + banana + 1/4 c. frozen fruit  + 1/4 c. oatmeal + Silk + ice
1/2 c. Greek Yogurt (plain or Chobani chocolate chunk) + 2 tbsp. peanut butter + one banana + silk

That last one can tend to be a bit heavier, so I've only had this smoothie on mornings where I've gotten up and ran before work. I typically need an extra boost on those day and this does the trick!

On the weekends, I get fancy! Not really, but there's a bit more involved. I love making mini omelets or eggs over easy with whole grain toast and fruit. Typically I sautee up some onions, spinach, tomatoes or other veggies I have on hand to throw in the omelet or put eggs on top of. 

Please don't skip the most important meal of the day! There are so many quick and easy things you can do for breakfast in the morning, whether you're eating at home or taking something to the office/school with you. Start your day out right with protein too, or you'll want to snack all morning.

What are some of your favorite quick breakfast meals?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Crazy for Color

Two weeks ago we ran The Color Run and it was SUCH a blast! We went with one of my co-workers and his wife, and I'm so glad that I finally got to experience this. I've been seeing pictures from friends that have done it other cities and anxiously awaited for our date to arrive, another thing off the Life List!

We were shiny and clean before we started...

 And not so much afterwards... (though you kinda can't tell--fail)

Then there were tons of color clouds and packet bombing...

And color to the face...

We threw our letters up on The Happy Wall...

And enjoyed many color clouds!
Awkwardly caught this man and his baby...
It was a fun event, but it was crazy how many people were there! The race path was really crowded at some points, it would have been better if they spaced the waves out a bit more. I also envisioned the color being thrown at us from above instead of volunteers throwing from the sides. Some color stations were definitely not as powerful--some runners were even getting down and rolling around in the powder on the ground.

A few tips if you're going to do a color run:

1. Sunglasses. Pretty obvious, but you don't want the color in your eyes!
2. Washcloth/Handkerchief. When you run through the color stations it's everywhere...including your mouth. I luckily got this tip from my friend Michelle, so we took old USC football rally towels to put over our mouths as we ran through.
3. Pore Strips. Because you may have purple pores afterwards...
4. Body Scrub. Pair that with a good washcloth and you should be able to get all of it off in one shower!
5. Phone Case. If you're thinking of taking your phone or iPod into the race with you, find a good way to protect it. I have an armband that I always put mine into, and I knew that it would be safe in there from the colors. The only place my iPhone was affected was that there's a tiny bit of blue in the crack where the vibrate switch is. It's a nice memory though!
6. Location, location, location. If you're running the race with others (which I assume would probably be the case), think about identifying a place to meet up afterwards. That way if you want to run different paces, or get lost from each other you can easily find your friends post-race to enjoy in colorful fun together.

If you have the chance, take it! Have you participated in a Color Run race? Any other good tips to add for first-timers?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Carolina You Keep Callin' Me Home

This past weekend was a long one, but it was tons of fun to spend time with my family and see some of my friends from grad school in Columbia! The game had the perfect kickoff of 3:30pm so we still had time to enjoy the day, and go out for dinner afterwards. 

It took a bit to get used to temperatures in the 90*s now that it's started to cool down here, but Sunday was absolutely perfect weather and leaving was a bummer. There are definitely a lot of things that I miss about Columbia, so I was glad to spend some time visiting some of my favorite places. 

Tailgating with the fam & Mr. Charming

As I noted on Friday, I was definitely excited for some of my favorite Columbia food places! My parents got to Columbia earlier on Friday afternoon, and my mom texted me to inquire my order from Cupcake. I didn't get my salted caramel chocolate--but I did get banana pudding, so good! After the game we headed to Pearlz for dinner, and when my dad asked for recommendations, I realized I had only ever been there for happy hour...whoops!

Awesome seafood cobb salad!
As we walked to dinner we stumbled upon this lovely Gamecock...he was definitely not in the Vista last year!

We stayed long enough on Sunday for brunch, and then walked around the Horseshoe while we waited for the bookstore to open. I finally got a diploma frame and can't wait to get it up in my office! It was a nice weekend, but I was definitely excited to get home last night. And then I used my time extremely wisely to prepare for the week watched five episodes of The Walking Dead. I'm OBSESSED!

It's been nice to see a lot of friends and family the past few weeks but more than anything I'm looking forward to staying in Richmond and chilling this weekend!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Foodie Friday: Cola Edition

I'm so pumped that after work today I'll be in the car headed to Columbia, SC! It's USC's Parent's Weekend so I'm dragging Mr. Charming back down south with me to see my parents, sister, and lots of friends from grad school.

In lieu of my typical Foodie Friday, I felt I should highlight some of the awesome places I can't wait to eat at this weekend. Not kidding when I tell you I've been thinking about them since the trip was planned...

Yoghut is one of my favorite froyo places! I really think that Sweet Frog is my only comparison. They had such amazing flavors last fall (like pumpkin cheesecake!) and I'm hoping to catch a great one while I'm in town. If not, Garnet Velvet (red velvet with a Gamecock flair!) is always a fave.

We'll be doing Sunday brunch at the ever amazing DiPrato's. Mr. Charming's parent will be joining for the first official meeting of the parents...does that mean we're legit? Anyways--this place is known for their pimento cheese, which is to die for, but their breakfast is also heavenly. I know it will be crazy busy but oh so worth it!

My favorite sweet treats will always be from Cupcake (cue mouth watering). After checking out their fall flavor schedule, I'm hoping I can make it in there on Saturday morning before we leave to tailgate so I can grab one of my favorite flavors...Salted Caramel Chocolate--look at it sparkle!

Finally, a regular stop for me in grad school was at Cool Beans which is a coffee shop that sits right next to Wardlaw College of Education, where I had all of my classes. A fall special of theirs is a pumpkin chai latte (I know) and even though it's still going to be hot down there, I'd love nothing more than to grab one for a quick walk around the beautiful Horseshoe.

Hungry yet? Hope you enjoy these great Columbia food picks, check them out if you're ever in the area. Happy weekend and Go Gamecocks!!