I’m Feeling Inspired – Olympics

Is there really anyone that doesn’t enjoy the Olympics?  I can’t wait to watch the events. Not only does it bring a country together (even if only for a few weeks), but its also a great motivator to get off my lazy butt and do something. For some reason, I can’t bring myself to watch the competitions while snacking on a bag of Doritos, but maybe that’s just me. Most of the time I’ll catch up on that days event while on the treadmill.

 

Fun Fact: Did you know that Tug-A-War was an Olympic event in the 1908 London Summer Games? True Story.

 

Here’s a little Olympic inspiration. Hope everyone is having  a great Sunday!

 

Amazing Paralympics Graphic

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I kind of want to frame this…

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DIY Dark Wood Spice Rack

While wandering the Crate and Barrel outlet a few weeks ago, I found the perfect little spice jars. They run about $2 each, which is more than I originally wanted to spend, but I love them. They have a tight seal, are easy to access, and look so pretty lined up on the counter.

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However, as much as I like them next to the stove for easy access, I quickly realized I needed another way to organize them. It looked messy when I grouped them on the counter.

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Stacking them was an option, but they aren’t designed to be stacked…

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..so they would often look like this.

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Needless to say, I needed another storage option. After playing around with some scrap wood in the garage, I came up with this.

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It was incredibly simple to build and I had everything on hand so it didn’t cost a penny. It even provides enough room to add another 4 spice jars under the first level.

The entire rack was made up of 4 pieces. Each side was a piece of wood cut into an ‘L’ shape. I believe it was cut out of a piece of scrap 1 x 6 wood. The shelves are cut from scrap 1 x 3 boards. There is nothing magic about the measurements. I lucked out that the 1 x 3 perfectly fit the spice jars and I knew I wanted 5 jars per shelf. This design is easy enough to adapt to any space/jar size that I plan on building a second spice rack to fit in a kitchen cabinet to hold additional spices that aren’t used everyday.

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I used simple brad nails to build the rack and sanded the whole thing lightly to take away sharp edges. I chose to stain the piece very dark to compliment the dark flecks in the granite. I used Rustoleum Kona, layered on a thicker than usual coat and left to dry for 2 days. Usually you would apply stain and wipe it off shortly after application; however, in this case, I just let the stain dry like paint. It ended up being perfectly dark and dried with a slight shine.

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The finished product ended up being a huge success and I’ve already had several compliments on it. It’s an added bonus that it was free; although if you did have to buy the supplies, it would still be fairly inexpensive.

Half Marathon Training

Here we are. It’s 12 weeks from Half Marathon day so it’s time to step up training and get serious. In order to build my endurance, I’ve been working through the C25K plan which did it’s job. I went from walking to jogging. It also taught me that I’m a jog/walk split type of person right now. I’d love to jog for an hour straight, but I find that I am stronger if I take periodic walking breaks.

Everyone is different.

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Since it’s worked well for me in the past, I decided to use Hal Higdon’s training plan. I’m using the Novice 2 plan since I haven’t trained for a Half in a while, but I have a decent base to build from. Nice thing is, it’s free! I’ll likely change things up now and then, so I wasn’t keen on paying for a training plan that I might change as I progress. Here’s a link to the specific plan I’m using since I know most will not be able to make out the details on the screenshot below.

Novice 2

 

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For the runners out there, what are your favorite training program? I’ve used Runner’s World Smart Coach in the past and was impressed, but decided against it this time since I don’t really have an official time to build from. After the half in October, I move very quickly into training for a Half Marathon in January, so I may consider using Smart Coach to train for that race.

Foyer Update

I finally forced myself to build some bookcases this past weekend so I thought now would be a good time for a Foyer/Library update. Especially since I’m a little torn on if I actually like the direction I’m going in. I can see the end result in my head, but this room definitely needs some work.

A look back…

This is what the room looked like after I moved in. Not bad, but no one sat down in this room, so it just wasn’t functional.

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This room is primarily used as a pass through to the backyard. It gets lots of puppy traffic so I don’t want to fill it with furniture. I’d rather leave the space as open as possible so my thought was to use it as a Library/Mud Room.

A few weeks back I tackled the first project of painting the back wall. It’s a neutral beige with slight peach undertones. It’s the same color I have in the third floor hallway and plan on using as the general interior house color. For now I’ve only painted certain walls this color as several walls are 2-3 stories high and I’ll have to hire someone to finish the painting for me.

Next up, I pulled some bookcases that I already owned out of another room and set them up on the sides. In the middle is a hope chest I inherited from my grandmother. Plan is to refinish and reupholster it at some point. I’m not sure it will stay in this room long term, but it works for now.

Foyer Library In Progress

Some fancy balancing on a ladder resulted in two bookcases attached to the wall. The floors are somewhat uneven in this house, so all bookcases must be attached to the wall. Not to mention that I live in the land of earthquakes.

Foyer Library In Progress

Two Billy bookcases have been sitting in my foyer for nearly 2 months? way too long. These are obviously larger than the existing cabinets, and a different color. However, the white was marked down to $59 each which made them an easy choice.

Foyer Library In Progress

About an hour later I had built both bookcases and attached them to the wall.

Foyer Library In Progress

This is where the foyer stands now. I’ve filled in some books temporarily, but this room stills has a long way to go. The plan is to make the bookcases look like built ins, so I will be installing moulding and painting the dark cabinets white. I’ll keep the doors on the outside cabinets as they hide a multitude of DVDs and the garden supplies that no one really needs to see.

I think I’m also going to swap out the hope chest for a bench, add a shelf between the bookcases and hooks to hold jackets and dog leashes.

Foyer Library In Progress

If I’m being honest, I don’t really like it right now. It feels very mix and match, and not in a good way. However, I think with a little paint, moulding, and decor it could actually end up looking like the library in my head.

I’m Feeling Inspired – Vacation

I’m not sure I’m going to be able to take a real (longer than a weekend) vacation until November, so lately I’ve been daydreaming of tropical beaches and fruity drinks. Even if I can’t actually make it somewhere relaxing this summer, at least I can dream about it.

Does anyone have any fun trips planned this year? Any tropical voyages or European escapades in the works?

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Source: adelto.co.uk via Addison on Pinterest

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Source: flickr.com via Addison on Pinterest

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Source: tumblr.com via Addison on Pinterest

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Easy Patriotic Layered Cake

It may come as a surprise, since this is the second time I’m sharing a cake recipe with you, but I don’t really like cake. Nope, I’m more of a ice cream or cookie girl. However, I’m finding that I really enjoy making cakes for other people. The golf cake was a huge success earlier this year, and this cake was too.

Added bonus, my mom LOVES white cake and vanilla frosting and this cake was going to her house. Although she may have hated me a little for leaving whole cake in her fridge for her to eat. I told her I could take the rest home and throw it out (since I won’t eat it), and I’m pretty sure her heart stopped beating for a moment.

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Turns out making those fancy colored layered cakes are not that hard. Granted, I’m far from a good baker/decorator, but with a little help from my dear friends Duncan Hines and Pillsbury, it was a cinch. In fact the hardest part was being patient during the actual baking process. I only had one cake pan, so I had to bake each layer separately. Do as I say and not as I do, and it won’t take you 2 hours to bake a 5 hour layer cake.

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It was worth every minute. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box White Cake mix
  • Vanilla Frosting (I ended up using almost 2 tubs)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 Cups Diet Sprite/Sierra Mist
  • Red and Blue Soft Gel Paste Food Color (I learned from the golf cake fiasco, and purchased some more professional colors which were AMAZING. I strongly recommending use paste/gel coloring instead of the liquid you can buy at the grocery store. I purchased the kit via the link above, but you can also buy individual colors through Hobby Lobby and Michaels)
  • 8 in cardboard cake ‘plate’ (Optional)

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Since I only wanted to use one box of cake mix, I used a 6 inch cake pan. Using the smaller cake pan allowed me to make thinner, smaller layers.

Step 1:

Add 2 egg whites to the boxed cake mix. Tip: Throw a rubber hot pad under you mixing bowls and they won’t budge while you’re whisking.

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Step 2:

Add the diet soda. The batter will foam up a bit and give a lighter textural appearance, similar to angel food cake. After baking it may have more ‘holes’ than a traditional cake, but it won’t taste like the soda. In fact, I don’t think anyone would have known, had I not told them I made it with Sierra Mist. Added bonus, it gives you a light and fluffy cake without the added calories of the oil.

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Step 3:

Set out a bowl for each layer. Then using an ice cream scoop, evenly split the batter among the bowls. I had about 4 scoops of batter in each bowl, for a 5 layer cake.

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It still looks a little lumpy here as I knew I would be whisking it more when I added the coloring.

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Step 4:

Oil and flour the cake pan and bake the white layer first. I baked each layer per the boxed instructions. Since my oven tends to run a little hotter than most, I took them out at about 12 minutes.

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Step 5:

While the white layer is cooking, color the other layers. I wanted an ombré style cake, so I colored one layer dark blue, and the next a light blue. That soft paste gel is no joke. The dark layer was just one drop of color and the light was about a quarter drop, just a little bit goes a long way with these.

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Do the same with the red.

Tip – Don’t feel like you need to buy red and pink gel coloring. I used just the one red to make both colors, you just need to vary how much color you add to the batter to make it lighter or darker. 

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I had to bake and cool each layer separately since I had only one 6 inch pan. (I wasn’t opposed to purchasing more, but they only had one left in stock at Michaels, so I was stuck with just the one pan). If you have more than one pan, this process would obviously go much faster. If you are also using just one pan, make sure you wash it and flour it between each layer so the next color doesn’t stick.

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After each layer cooled, I’d gently slice off the top with a sharp knife, dipped in flour, to make it flat. If you’re feeling ambitious, turn the remnants into cake pops! In fact I froze the bits I cut off so I can do just that.

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All the layers are done! Now that wasn’t so hard, right? Think of all the different color variations you could do.

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I put the cake in the refrigerator over night, covered with a towel. The next morning, I started assembling.

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Step 6:

I built the cake with layers of the plain vanilla frosting.

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Then used the same frosting to crumb coat the entire cake. I popped it back in the fridge while I prepped the rest of the frosting.

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To take the ‘packaging’ taste away from the store bought frosting, I almost always add vanilla. This time I used a fresh vanilla bean and added it to the frosting. If you don’t have any beans, then vanilla extract will work too. However, I implore you, please don’t waste your money buying 2 vanilla beans at the grocery store for $7, that’s ridiculous. You can purchase a bag of about 50 for $25 from Amazon. Partner up with a few of your friends and split the cost if you want. It’s a great deal. You can use them for dozens of things and I promise adding a fresh vanilla bean to your baking will make everything taste amazing. You can also use a few to make you’re own homemade vanilla or throw the empty pods into sugar for Vanilla Sugar. 

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Step 7:

Frost. I added a lot of frosting since that is my moms favorite part. Then I added a little more to the top to make a swirly design.

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I used the back of a large spoon to make a circular swirl pattern.

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Step 8:

Decorate!

Now that I had a soft swirl on the top, I wanted to add some sparkle. I’m sure there is a much fancier way to do this, but I used a standard funnel to direct the sprinkles. It worked great to keep everything exactly where I wanted it.

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Simple, and Sweet.

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It really is such an easy effect to create using store brought products. I’m sure homemade cake and frosting may taste better, but it won’t trump the accomplishment I had from making this.

I felt like a cake making ROCKSTAR!

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*Disclaimer: Product links are affiliate, but all opinions are my own. All items were purchased with my own money and I liked them enough to share them with you.

Summer Fun

This past weekend, as a great wrap up to a few days off, my family and I went to a baseball game. There are only 2 sports that I really love to watch live, Hockey and Baseball. The last several years, we’ve been to one game each summer and we always have a great time. This year was no different.

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A few weeks ago I saw Groupon had a deal for Padres ticket. I paid $25 for tickets that typically cost about $60, which was a great deal. Even better, these types of bargains are usually for Weekday tickets, but these were for a Saturday night game so I snapped them up quickly. Perfect!

Plus you can’t beat the view of San Diego from the stadium. (Ok, perhaps the train yard isn’t it’s best feature, but still…)

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The seats we had were on the Suite level, third base side. We did have the sun in our eyes for about 20 minutes, but it was gone before the first pitch.

It actually ended up being a good night to go because they had all the Olympians that train out of the Chula Vista Olympic Training center visiting, and they were announced prior to the game. Lots of USA Pride. They also did a Archery contest with the Olympic Archery team.

Then Charlie Sheen threw out the first pitch. Yeah, I didn’t see that coming. I was only using my phone for pics so I couldn’t get a close up of anyone on the field, so sorry, you don’t get to see him ‘Winning’. Truth be told, his pitch was better than the Olympian who went before him.

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I seriously love this stadium and wish it was closer so I could attend a few more games each year. Padres lost, but it was a ton of fun.

Oh, and I learned how to properly open a shelled peanut. Apparently I’ve been doing it wrong all these years. Consider my mind blown.

I also made a cake this past weekend, and it was adorable! I still have to edit the pictures so I’ll put a separate post about it soon. I assure you it was easy, colorful, and delicious!

Red White and Blue Cake_1

Does anyone have plans for this weekend? It’s been over 100 degrees each day here this week and my AC is broken (in both my house and my car, lucky me). So I’m thinking a trip the air conditioned mall may be in order. Or maybe a movie, any recommendations?

DIY Nail Polish Storage

I’m a little obsessed lately with nail polish. I’ve always like a good manicure (which I do myself), but growing up an avid nail biter meant my nails always looked awful. However, last year, I took a month to battle my bad habit, and things are still doing well. Now that I have longer nails, it’s much more fun to keep them polished.

However, breaking the nail biting habit is costing me a fortune! I love polish now. 

My collection before was housed in a plastic shoe box. It quickly outgrew the lid and was starting to spill over the sides. Not only was this messy, but it was awful when the only polish I wanted just happen to be on the bottom of the box (which was always).

Nail Polish Storage_Before

So in an effort to organize my linen closet, I used some scrap wood to build some nail polish storage boxes. The structure was as basic as it gets, and to make them quickly, I only used nails to hold everything together.

Nail Polish Storage

I built 3 basic boxes, like the above, and one slightly special box that holds tools.The tool box was split into two compartments, one side for tools and the other for clear polishes and treatments (i.e cuticle oil, base coats, top coats, etc). I reach for this box most often since I keep all the files in there so I made the front a bit lower to make it easier to identify and remove from the shelf.

Nail Polish Storage

Since I used scrap wood, some of the boards were bowed and knotted. Each box needed quite a bit of wood filler. I set the nails and filled all the seams.

Nail Polish Storage

After a heavy coat of wood filler, I spent a day sanding them. As you can see in the picture above, many of the seams were very uneven. This didn’t really bother me since I was making these out of scraps for free, but it required a lot of sanding to clean them up.

After wiping them free of dust, I applied 2 coats spray primer and 2 coats of white satin spray paint. Since it’s likely that polish may leak, I also applied several thin coats of Satin Poly. It won’t help if a whole bottle spills and dries in the box, but it will help me clean up a quick leak. I also like the sheen of satin poly on a project like this.

Nail Polish Storage

There is a 4th box, but it was still drying when I took these pictures.

The last step was to add some label holders. I purchased 2 packages of chrome label holders from Staples, Martha Stewart collection. Unfortunately I can’t find a link to the product online, but I found plenty of them in store. They come is a brushed chrome color and I used my magic ORB spray paint to darken them. They attached with double stick tape, so there is no hardware to deal with.

Nail Polish Storage

…and ORGANIZE!

Nail Polish Storage

I split the boxes into color families to make it easy to find any polish. I have a Red/Pink box, a Blue/Purple box, the Tools box, and an Other box.

Nail Polish Storage

They easily stack in the linen cabinet and actually look pretty nice. I also like that there is space to add more boxes in case my collection continues to grow.

Nail Polish Storage

 

Project Cost Breakdown (for all boxes):

Wood/Nails (Already Owned/Scrap Wood) = $0

White Spray Paint, Spray Primer, Spray Satin Poly (Already Owned) = $0

Labels (Martha Stewart @ Staples) = $8 (I think they were about $4 a package and I bought 2)

ORB Spray Paint for Labels (Already Owned) = $0

Total Project Cost: $8

Mental Dumbbells – June 2012

It’s time to play catch-up now that I have a few days off. Last minute I decided to take Thu/Fri off of work since the 4th is an office holiday. That gives me 5 days off in a row, the longest vacation I’ve had since Thanksgiving. I can’t tell you how much I need some time to decompress. Wednesday was a nice lazy day that involved some good food, errands, and a glorious 2 hour nap. I hope to make some progress on the Foyer and Spare Bedroom over the next few days, not to mention a fun weekend of shopping and a Baseball game.

First up is June’s reading recap. Last month I finished 7 books which brings the 30 in 30 count to 15 done, and 35 to go. 

 

Food Revolution, The: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World

LOVED this book. In fact the entire time I was reading it, I kept thinking how great this would have been as a textbook in high school health class to give kids a basis in healthy eating. There is a strong push in the book to stop eating meat, but that’s not the only message. I still eat meat; although it very rare that I eat red meat and I try to only purchase organic/cage free chicken and eggs. I was incredibly impressed that the son of the Baskin Robbins founder wrote this book and that it contained so much great information on living a healthy lifestyle.I took away a lot of great information from this book and would recommend it to EVERYONE.

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On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

This book was recommended to me in my last writing class and it has quickly become one of my favorite writing books of all time. In fact, even if you’re not a writer, if you like Stephen King, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s a good blend of advice and memoir, as he offers tips throughout the book as he tells you his life story.

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The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

I am very intrigued by those that are self employed, mostly because I hope to be working for myself someday soon. If I recall correctly, Tim Ferris recommended this via Twitter, and since I’m a fan of his, I wanted to check this out as well. This book gave me some detailed ideas on how to start a profitable venture, as well as real world case studies. It offered encouragement to follow a dream and turn it into a living, which is something I needed right now. It was an easy read that I’ll keep around as a reference book going forward as I embark on my own startup.

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Cure

I have been a fan of Robin Cook for a long time, he’s my FAVORITE medical thriller writer. I also love his series on Jack Stapleton and Laurie Montgomery. This was no exception and I really enjoyed the book. Jack and Laurie work in the medical examiner office and are recently married. Other Cook books go back to before they met, so I’ve been following them for a while. In this story, Laurie is coming back to work after an extended maternity leave and ends up in the middle of a murder/kidnapping. Classic Cook, good fiction if you like Medical Thrillers.

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Don’t Blink

Another favorite writer and a good story. I like that Patterson collaborates with other writers, it gives the story a fresh edge. This one involved a mob lawyer murder, a sports star hiding a secret, and a journalist. Classic for Patterson, it had short, action packed chapters which made it an easy read. Warning: If the title and info graphic doesn’t give you a clue, there is some gruesome stuff about eyeballs…it caught me off guard and grossed me out, so I thought I’d let you know.

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Tick Tock (Michael Bennett)

I borrowed a few Patterson books from my mom so he’ll likely be a reoccurring theme. The same structure holds true for this one, short & action packed chapters. I think it took me only a day to zip through this one as well. This one followed, new to me series star, Michael Bennett. While it was gruesome (it is a murder mystery after all), it also involved a great storyline about him and his kids (he has a bunch of them – adopted). I would read the whole Bennett series just to hear about their family. I like this book better than ‘Don’t Blink’ since the main character reminded me of Alex Cross.

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Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture

I didn’t actually plan to finish this book in June since I bought it on the 30th; however, I was hooked from the first page. It was an easy/fun read that I finished in one day. I never used to like the Housewives (still don’t for the most part), but I LOVED how Andy asked the tough questions at the reunions. I started watching the seasons so I would understand what was happening in the reunions. Later I learned he was also a VP at Bravo (I thought he was just an on air personality) and I was intrigued. I love reading biographies in general and this was no exception.

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*Disclaimer: All the links are affiliate, but all opinions are my own. I was not comped with any of these books.

I’m Feeling Inspired – Down A Size

So first off, I have to say…WOW. Last month was one of the biggest on the blog and I posted a whopping 5 times. Which makes me wonder if you’re trying to tell me something. That, or June was just a huge month for Golf Cakes and Apple Butter. I never thought those would be the most popular posts on CMD.

I’m also doing something a little different with this week’s inspiration post (just pretend there wasn’t a month long gap since the last one). I realized I haven’t given you a proper update on the weight loss journey lately.

[I could not get the smears off the mirror, sorry]

 Down a Size_2

My ‘fat’ jeans are in the donation box!

[Holy crap, did I just post a picture of my ass on the internet?]

 

YES. I. DID.

 

Thing have been going great on the weight loss journey, I’m down 28 lbs and a full jean size. I’m also starting week 7 of the C25K and have gone from struggling through a 90 second jog to finishing 20 minutes straight. Now instead of reaching for food when I get stressed at work, I find myself looking forward to my workout. Who thought that would happen? I still have a long way to go, but I’m smiling again.

In all honesty, I hate these types of posts, because I don’t like tooting my own horn. But I’m trying to learn that sometimes it perfectly healthy and justified to pat yourself on the back and share the good news. Especially justified since this blog is supposed to be all about my journey to changing my destiny, right? Well, I see progress.

So here’s to sharing the great news all over the internet!

…especially since my dog just doesn’t get it when I dance around the bedroom in my now smaller jeans.