Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm moving!

I am so excited about this and so sorry it's going to cause you to have to press a few more buttons,
but it's going to be

So- please head over to
(yep, I own my name. How fun is that?!?!?)
Leave comments.
Tell your friends and coworkers.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Do you subscribe to Design*Sponge yet?

If not, you must. If for no other reason than to learn how to make adorable vases from old light fixtures.

I will warn you- the blog is updated often. Like, several times a day often. So sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

But fear not- no one will hunt you down if you choose to skip over a post without reading it. Sometimes, I just look at the pictures and smile.

First Day Jitters

I had a terrible morning today but quite a nice evening and night. I taught a wonderful couple a very fun Pilates lesson, and was told that my lessons have helped lesson the need for chiropractic care! Then I came home and played with my kids, put them to bed, and painted. After sitting down with a glass of wine and a bowl of perfectly browned popcorn to read, an idea for a children's book hit me. I raced to my computer and shot out the first draft. Very excited to look at it tomorrow and see if I still like it.

I'm on a creative high right now, and would love to stay up, watch The Rachel Zoe Project or Project Runway, and make a bunch of new jewelry. But, I must fight the urge, because tomorrow is my first day of school. I am enrolled in The Writer's Loft at MTSU and could not be more excited. This is the first big step I've taken in my writing since college, and the first time ever I've invested real money it in (besides buying this computer.) I'm like a 5 year old the day before kindergarten- I want to sleep in my clothes I'm so excited!

**Photo from Design*Sponge. Click here to make your own notebooks!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Work Smarter

Some version of "Don't work harder, just work smarter" has been coming at me from all sides this week: triathlon training newsletters, marathon training newsletters, blogs, books, magazines, you name it.

I wonder if God is trying to tell me something.

Nah...must be a coincidence.

Or not.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I have not been waking up in the mornings to run, mostly because I haven't been going to sleep at night. Yesterday my new FiveFingers came, and I was quite excited to try them out.

This adorable little girl was my running companion. We ran the entire length of our street!

These are my new shoes:

I'm not entirely sure yet how I feel about them. They did feel really good to run in, but the seam where the fabric meets the shoe on the right side rubbed a great big terrible hole in my foot. Not even a blister- a hole. It hurts. Bad. But I did run better- I stood straighter, knew immediately every time my form started to suffer, and I ran faster than I usually do. It was only 2 miles. We'll see how they do when I up the mileage. But, in the interest of saving my big toe, I don't think I'll be wearing them for the half marathon on the 25th.

Painting Marathon

I got behind while I was on vacation, but I'm almost all caught up now! Here are my latest creations!

This has been one of the best parts of my summer. More information on Creatively Fit and Whitney Ferre here.


I've had two great food victories this week:

First: Stuffed Eggplant. Husband and both kids ate it!

Tonight: Kettle Corn!

Stuffed Eggplant:
  • 1 Bulb Eggplant
  • 2tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Garlic Bulb
  • 1/4 c Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 c Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

  1. Heat oven to 350
  2. Heat oil over medium high heat in skillet, add garlic and let it lightly brown
  3. Cut the top off the eggplant and clean the insides out (like a pumpkin)
  4. Grind the eggplant "meat" up in a food processor with the bread crumbs, tomato sauce and Parmesan.
  5. Add eggplant mixture to skillet, heat through.
  6. Scoop mixture into the eggplant shell
  7. Top with cheese
  8. Cook for 20 minutes at 350, then switch the oven to broil for 5 minutes to brown the cheese.
  9. Photograph, slice, and serve
Kettle Corn:
  • 1/4c Popcorn
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  1. Turn burner on to medium high (don't preheat pan though)
  2. Put oil and popcorn into the pan
  3. If you have a whirly pop, stir the popcorn. If not, gently shake the pan until the first kernal pops.
  4. Add honey quickly and continue to shake or stir until popping stops
*Confession: I LOVE burnt popcorn, so the fact that this is just about the easiest recipe in the world to burn doesn't bother me. That said, if you don't like burnt popcorn, this one is going to take some practice.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Arabella Cobb

Arabella Cobb was born on May 18th at 7pm at just 22 weeks and four days. She weighed just one pound. She was given less than a 5% chance of surviving through the night. 114 days later, this inspiring, amazing little child is still here.

Born so early, her body was not ready for the world. She has battled problems with most of her major organ systems, including her skin. She has had surgery on both her heart and her eyes, and has made some great strides. She has been taken off the ventalator twice, to give her lungs a chance to work on their own. The last time she was able to sustain herself through eye surgery and was even on a simple nasal canula for a while (the same thing that many older folks walk around with all the time.) She's now weighing in at just under 4 pounds!

On Tuesday, September 7 they had to put her back on the ventalator. Her lungs had collapsed, and she was unable to get enough air on her own. Yesterday her parents had to make the difficult decision to start her on an experimental treatment- another round of steroids- to try to help initiate lung tissue growth. Her lungs simply cannot keep up with her. The possible side effects of this treatment are stunted growth, mental retardation and infection. The other option was to do nothing, which would pretty much guarantee that Bella would never come off the vent.

I tell you all of this to ask for your prayers.
Prayer for tiny baby Bella: God has shown His power through this tiny child time and time again. It's seemed hopeless and MIRACULOUSLY she has progressed. Please pray that the steroids will help her lungs without causing problems elsewhere.
Prayer for the doctors and nurses taking care of Bella: Wisdom, faith and confidence.
Prayer for Chris and Telisha, Bella's parents: Strength, courage, sustaining faith.
Prayer for Dylan, Bella's three year old brother: Understanding and hope.

You can read more about Bella and send her family notes of encouragement at

Thank you.

Book Review: Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

Max Lucado's new book, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference, is a straight-forward, practical approach to making a difference. "No one can do everything, but every one can do something." The early church of Acts used this philosophy to spread the news of Jesus throughout all of Asia. We can use this philosophy to show people that Jesus is still real, and still matters.

The problems of our current society are huge: hunger, poverty, wars, famines, civil rights abuses...the list goes on and on. Rather than become paralyzed by the enorminty of it all, each of us just needs to find small actions we can take: sponsor a child, volunteer, PRAY. He doesn't advocate that we all sell all of our possesions and live in poverty until everyone has everything that they need. But maybe take some of that coffee budget and use it to create good for someone else.

Max's writing is, as always, conversational and straightforward I don't feel the hell fire and brimstone raining down from the pulpet, but I do feel the small voice inside of me challenging: what can I do? What will I say to my children and grandchildren when they ask how I helped?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Another voice crush

Seriously- Mat Kearney.
New York to California:

But you could find your self lost out in this world
And I found a way to get back to your side no mountains to high, no stone is too small
I'll build a bridge through the fire, for you I would crawl
From New York to California
I could hear you softly breathing, oh what you do to me
But baby I could climb down into your dreams I
Build a ladder down through the clouds
Where the storms Is raging now I
Don't want to sing another song without you

It's on my list of songs that I wish I would have had at my wedding.
And we had some pretty amazing music at our wedding.
Just sayin'

City of Black & White

An eggplant a day...

Photo from here

I love eggplant. My husband and kids though, not so much. So the fact that we've gotten 5 eggplants in the last two weeks from our CSA was a bit perplexing, because, while I like me some eggplant parm, I don't have the time to make or eat 5 eggplants worth of the stuff, and it's not such a good freeze and reheat meal.

Google to the rescue!

Tonight I made Roasted Eggplant and Feta Dip (click here for full recipe) to eat tomorrow with my homemade bruschetta and french bread (yes, I made that too.) We picked up some goat cheese n on Saturday and I've been looking forward to this meal since then.

The best part about all of these recipes is that none of them required more than about 10 minutes of hands on time, and man oh man do they taste good. Plus, all can be eaten for both meals and snacks, and most of the ingredients came either from my garden, my CSA or the Franklin Farmer's Market. It doesn't get much better than this for fresh, local food in September.

Book Review: The Butterfly Effect

I don't usually get into gift books, but The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Mattersis intriguing from the beginning. Beautifully laid out, the book first explains what the The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Mattersis- the idea that a butterfly flapping it's wings could cause a hurricane on the other side of the world- and then gives examples of how seemingly insignificant decisions changed the course of history. While the premise behind the book is not unique, especially in Christian literature, it is clear, exciting and inspiring.

"The very beating of your heart has meaning and purpose.
Your actions have value far greater than silver or gold.
Your life ... And what you do with it today ...

This book would make a great gift for anyone entering a new stage in their life- whether that is graduation or parented, or anyone who needs to be reminded that their actions matter.

Book Review: The Boy Who Changed the World

3 Stars

The Boy Who Changed the World tells the story of the boy who invented a new type of corn that would grow in arid climates, thereby feeding over 2 million people. Except maybe it wasn't him who should get credit for feeding those people, maybe it should be the man who hired him. Or the man who taught him, or the man who saved him. You get the idea- no one can truly receive credit, because they all had a hand in it.

For children of the right age, this story is a wonderful conversation starter. In the end, it's not clear if the credit should be shared, or if the point of the story is that you should never take credit for anything because no idea was yours alone. Obviously, the point is that even though you might not see it today, your actions could have effects in another lifetime. Just be careful if you have cynical (pre)teens around.

The Boy Who Changed the Worldis wonderfully illustrated and paced well, and kept the attention of my 1 & 2 year olds until the end, which is no easy feat.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A little eye candy before bed

I stumbled across Elena Kalis's work from a link on a tweet.
I am mesmerized.
It is beautiful.
You must check it out.


While at Publix on Sunday, a very sweet gentleman stopped me and asked if I wanted to taste "The best coffee you've ever tasted."

Well, of course I would! I was slightly skeptical because I only drink flavored coffee with flavored creamer, because I haven't quite grown up into the adult coffee world yet. But I thought, what the heck.

Nashville Roast hand roasts their coffee in the same building as The Mercy Lounge and Cannery Ballroom off of 8th Ave in Nashville. The coffee I was drinking on Sunday had been roasted on Saturday.

I have never tasted a better coffee, or a better coffee drink. I've never had "fresh" coffee before, and it is all that it's cracked up to be. I bought a pound and put the Chocolate Mint Ghirardelli coffee that was in my cart back. And, Nashville Roast was $3 per pound LESS than the Ghirardelli that I was planning on buying!

Saving money and getting better coffee? I'm all about it.

(The coffee is so good that as I was drinking my first cup on my way to work on Monday, I had to call my mom and tell her about it. At 6:45am. Seriously!)

Greatest Salad EVER

Have you heard of Daily Dish in Franklin? It's actually up in Grassmere, but I just learned that's not actually a city. So we'll say Franklin.

Anyway, Daily Dish is a meat and three next to a dry cleaner, just down the street from the coffee shop that Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman like to hang out at. The daily menu is written on a chalkboard outside the door and you can peruse the dessert options as you're picking up your silverware.

But this meat and three is special, because they have a full menu of salads and sandwiches that you can order in addition to the good ol' southern fare they're dishing out. It's perfect for us, because I can get (the best) macaroni cheese and a salad or sandwich, and Chris can have his chicken fried steak or jambalaya or whatever else they've got going on. It's one of our favorite lunch places.

About a week ago we went there for dinner with both of the kids. They shared a kids meal and (brace yourself) THERE WERE LEFTOVERS! From MY KIDS! These are the same kids who often eat more than me at any given meal. So as far as value goes, nothing beats it.

I ordered the Almond Encrusted Goat Cheese salad. I've had the Pesto Chicken Sandwich before (amazing) but I was really just craving some fruit and veggies.

Oh. my. goodness.

Seriously, this is the BEST SALAD I HAVE EVER EATEN.

And I said so between just about every bite. And I couldn't quit talking about it all the way home. I don't know how to fully express to you just how good this salad was, except that I have been thinking about it for the last 10 days and right now I'm trying to figure out how I could talk my boss into taking us there for lunch today. (It's at least a 45 minute drive each way from our office. Not going to happen.)

Just looking at this picture makes me want to drool.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Okay, seriously: how cool is this?

I used to be so artsy fartsy DIY, then I got busy and lazy. Check this out: it takes DIY to a whole new (EASY) level! I think I may have to run over to Borders tomorrow to check out the book!

Magazine Beads

While I was visiting The Frist Center today I saw some jewelry in the gift shop that was made out of recycled magazines. I have seen these types of beads before, but today I realized that this would be the best way I could reuse the magazines I'm done with. So, with a little help from Google, I found tutorials here and here. They were linked from here and I may have just found another new favorite site.

I'll let you know how the beads go, let me know if you try out any of their other tutorials, the site looks amazing!

Golden Age of Couture

I went to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts today to redeem the Groupon that we purchased yesterday for a free membership. It was perfect timing because I was already planning to go today to see the Couture Exhibit that leaves on September 16. There were a few things I learned:

1) I should have been born rich, and in 1930 so I would have been the perfect age and class to wear all of those amazing clothes.
2) I want to pay more attention to vintage styles and hopefully score some dresses from the 40s and 50s.
3) I want to start making my own clothes again. I made the dress I wore in my High School graduation pictures...but that was the last thing I made, even though I received a sewing machine from my parents when I graduated from college.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thought for the day

"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?" - Vincent van Gogh

Via @paul_steele: RT @JustDiii: RT @GreatestQuotes:

Original Tweet:

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Amanda Moon

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


We saw amazing sunsets the first day of our vacation and the last.
This picture was taken in my car, somewhere in Kentucky. Sorry about the bugs on the windshield.
I took this photo of the sun setting over Mary Lake on my phone. My dad got some pretty incredible pictures on his camera, I'll post one of them after I get them off of Chris's computer.

My Sven

Chris: "Would you like a massage?"
Me: "Yes, but I'd like Sven to do it."
Chris: "Who's Sven?"
Me: "The Swedish masseuse!"
Chris laughs and begins to massage my shoulders.
Lily: "I want to Sven too!"
Climbs into Chris's lap and helps massage.
Lily: "Mommy, are you stressed?"
Me: "Not anymore!

Lacking Contentment

I pride myself on being a bargain hunter extraordinaire. One of my best friends from high school once told a chaperon on a mall trip that if she couldn't find me the best place to look was near the clearance racks. It was, and still is, completely true.

But I'm struggling right now with trying to figure out where blatant consumerism for the sake of consumerism starts and good, honest bargain hunting ends. I went to The Gap last Sunday for a free pair of pants- an incredible deal because I LOVE Gap's pants and I truly don't know how I got chosen to receive such a valuable coupon. While I was there, I found out that my weight loss efforts have had huge effects, I've dropped 2 pants sizes even though my overall weight loss is only 20 lbs, and decided to go ahead and buy myself some jeans too, since they were on sale and another coupon I had essentially made them buy one get one free. Throw in a dress and another pair of clearance jeans and I walked out of there with a bag full of great clothes for just over $100. Not bad right?

Right. But did I need any of it? Probably not. My clothing collection already takes up nearly 2/3 of our walk in closet, my husband's stuff shoved to the side and underneath my ever expanding racks.

Then there are the sites like Groupon, Living Social and SavvyAvenue. I buy things from these sites that I wouldn't otherwise make room in my budget for because they are cheap. None of what I've bought is "bad" it's just that I know that these are items that I could live without. But because it's literally a click of the mouse, it's easier to buy than reason with myself.

I'm also a "member" of RueLaLa (if you're not and want to be, email me, I'll send you the invite.) They are essentially a clearing house for factory direct clearances. They carry everything from furniture to clothing to cookware. Last week they hosted KitchenAid and this week they have Analon. I've wanted new cookware for some time now, so I'm very tempted to shell out the $200 and get some of this high quality stuff and a deep discount.

The problem that I'm struggling with is that, yes, I wantnew cookware, and an argument could be made that I have a few pots and pans that need replacing. But the reality is, I have a full set of cookware that works just fine. It's not perfect, but it works.

Financially right now, we don't have a whole lot left over. But, we have a whole lot that most people don't- 2 iPhones, 3 computers (in a house with 2 adults and 2 toddlers) etc. etc. etc. We have more than we need, but because I am constantly seeing other things that I want, I feel like I'm depriving myself when I don't hit the "checkout" button on my online cart.

We are living nearly debt free right now- we have 1 car note (we paid off my car last week!) and our mortgage. Our monthly expenses are relatively high because of where were have chosen to live, but we handle them. We don't have much in savings, but we don't carry credit card debt. I see all of our friends going on vacations and buying (it seems) whatever they want whenever they want and I can't help but be jealous. Maybe they are drowning in mountains of credit card debt, I don't know, but sometimes I wish I could just have that carefree attitude when it comes to money. But I also know I want to be secure and responsible.

I'd love some suggestions for how you handle the balance between giving yourself what you want and being content with what you have. I've heard of people that have gone an entire year without buying anything new. Or only bought goods from local vendors at the source of production. I'm not ready to try for a year, but a month maybe? I don't know if I could do it. Tell me what you think.

*Photo from here

Friday, August 20, 2010

Book Review: Same Kind of Different As Me

5 Stars--Eye Opening

Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together

If your elementary school reading list was anything like mine, you may have read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. If you're from the north, that may have been your only exposure to life in the south after slavery. I knew all about sharecropping and how it was essentially a way to make slavery legal, what I didn't realize until I read Same Kind of Different As Me was that there are still sharecroppers alive. I thought it was one of those terrible things in our history that went on long before the World Wars and modern times. It's not.

Same Kind of Different As Me chronicles the stories of Denver Moore, a sharecropper-turned-homeless man and Ron Hall, an up and coming art dealer. It is told in alternating chapters from each man's own perspective, first recounting the life events that brought them to Texas at the same time, and their ultimate meeting and friendship.

Written directly to the reader, as if you are sitting down for coffee with Ron and Denver, the story is gripping and personal. You come to know them like friends, and it's just as hard to put the book down as it would be to walk out on someone while they are talking.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fun at the Lake

We are in Minnesota this week with my whole fam-dam-ly staying in a huge cabin on Lake Mary. We are in a really remote area, and I love it.

Triathlon training is going well- Sunday I ran almost 8 miles, yesterday my aunt and uncle took me for a nice 11 mile bike ride and today my dad took me swimming. Dad had to me swimming because it's been so windy here I can't swim distance where we are at- he took me across the lake to where the water was a bit calmer. It was still really rough, I only swam for 20 minutes and it wore me out.

I'm sitting by the fire by myself right now, the first time I've really been alone for about 5 days. Grandma is reading the kids a bedtime story, and I need to go ahead sign off before Chris starts looking for his computer.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Too much?

I think it's possible I've hit the limit to the number of balls I can have in the air without completely loosing track of things. Here's what I have going on right now (in no particular order)

  1. 2 1/2 year old, 1 year old

  2. Husband

  3. Creatively Fit Marathon: 26 paintings in 13 weeks

  4. Training for second triathlon this summer- Cedars of Lebanon on August 28

  5. Training for Women's Half Marathon on September 25

  6. Etsy shop (sort of...haven't sold anything yet)

  7. Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance Group

  8. Full time job

  9. Private Pilates Lessons

  10. The Pilates Lifestyle Book

  11. The Book of Ruth

I think I'm a little overwhelmed. Actually, based on my shopping habits lately, I know I am. When i get overwhelmed, I shop. A lot. When I was in the hospital with gall stones last year I bought $350 worth of stuff from Luckily, I was able to send it all back when the pain meds wore off. My big purchases lately have been gear for the tris, new clothes, and books. I currently have over $200 worth of stuff in my shopping carts at both and I've also got $60 worth of stuff in my Amazon cart. Chris said it's fine, as long as I don't hit the "Complete Purchase" button on any of them.

"Honey, it's okay" he said, rather reassuringly. I knew what was coming. Encouragement that if it was stuff I really needed it was okay. I was wrong. "Cute stuff will be on sale again another day. You don't need to buy it now."

Such a wise, wise man.

Latest Paintings

Here are my latest Creatively Fit Marathon paintings. Mile 11 is tomorrow, I can't wait.

The next "marathon" starts on September 3, and I highly recommend it. Get all of the details here.

The whole point of the marathon is not to make amazing works of art (you paint over them every 3-4 days anyway) it's to get in touch with your right brain- to learn to be creative so that you can find creative ways to solve your everyday problems, to "create change" in your life. It's also an amazing form of meditation. I always thought making art was hard- this has been the most relaxing part of my summer.