Evening walk.

Sights and sounds from my evening walk:

2 cows. 3 horses. 3 roosters. 4 chickens. 2 dragonflies. 1 siberian pony. 1 orange sherbert colored sunset. 3 sets of couples sitting on their front porches. 1 father + his 2 daughters racing each other on go-carts & laughing hysterically. 6 dogs. The synchronized repetition of roughly 349,294,303 crickets…..or so. Gorgeously manicured lawns next to perfectly untouched fields. Stella happily panting with an occasional look up at me as if she’s saying “yaaaay!” Dozens of antiques out front on an older man’s yard. Beautiful American flags.

It’s the ultimate “me time” when I decide to walk. I absolutely love running, but then there are nights like these when the season is starting to turn and the air is full of new adventure…and I just want to slow time down a bit in order to take it all in. Tons to see. Plenty to be inspired by. T.V., books, and computers can wait.

What do you see on your walk?

Seriously though…comment and share what you’re view is from here in Oklahoma, out there in Montana…or D.C….or California…or England.

Happy walking.

Thirty One

It’s my 31st birthday today! I’m spending the day with my hubby. He’s my favorite person 🙂 We’re exploring Austin, TX all weekend and are having the time of our lives!

A weekend getaway to a new place often heightens my senses to the world around me. The air, sights, and sounds all stand out a bit stronger because it’s new and different. That got me thinking – I hope I take enough time to appreciate the little things that I adore in life. I used to be better at that.

Throughout high school and college I’d escape for a few minutes (or hours) and add to a list of what I loved. Totally random things…like…how people tilt their head when they eat a taco, or a much needed outburst of laughter after something has gone horribly wrong and that poor moment needs some comedic relief. Before I knew it, my list had exceeded 1,400 things. The sad truth is that I have no idea where that book is now. But the idea of doing that, of writing down the little things that I love about life, well I think today’s a brilliant day to bring it back.

So, in honor of my 31st, here are 31 little random things that I love:

  1. Snuggling with my yellow lab, Stella.
  2. Stovetop popcorn.
  3. The entire experience of walking around an Anthropologie store.
  4. Slowly sipping red wine on a cold night.
  5. The 1st cup of coffee in the morning.
  6. Finishing a long run.
  7. Writing.
  8. Star gazing.
  9. Small town America.
  10. Getting positive results from using little pockets of time wisely.
  11. Country music.
  12. Cowgirl boots.
  13. An unforgettable culinary experience.
  14. Dark chocolate.
  15. Laughter from my favorite people.
  16. The distant smell of a campfire.
  17. Swivel chairs.
  18. HGTV & The Food Network.
  19. Needed hugs.
  20. A new dress.
  21. Baking.
  22. Stained glass windows.
  23. Coffee shops.
  24. Windows open, kinda weather.
  25. Sushi.
  26. Getting asked to take strangers’ group photos.
  27. When a baby smiles or yawns.
  28. Zumba. 
  29. Hearing perfectly beautiful harmony sung a cappella.
  30. People who don’t complain, appreciate life, and embrace each day.
  31. Choosing happiness.

More than any of these, more than anything in the world in fact, I love and adore my family and friends over all. I’m a very lucky lady to have such joy surrounding me all the time. Not quite sure how I got so lucky, but I thank God everyday for y’all.

So…what’s on your list?!

Happy day, friends!

Go get it.

stella eos m (1 of 1)We can learn a lot from dogs like Stella. She’s ambitious, loving, fearless, hilarious, grateful, trusting, and protective when necessary. I’m convinced this girl is made purely of heart…and high jumps. When we first got her, I don’t think I realized just how much she would teach me. Yes, though this little “being” doesn’t talk, she teaches me every day.

“Go get it.” we’ll often say to her with both command and excitement in our voice as we play fetch. But before we can get to “it” she’s off like a bullet out of a gun. Those of you who have spent some time with her and have seen her run/jump – y’all know. She’s in the ZONE. No holding her back. In her incredible mind there are no plans later in the day, no concerns for how long we’ll be playing, or if she’ll get injured…she’s fully committed. This girl could play fetch for HOURS. I especially love it when she also tells us that she’s done. She’s her own little lady who knows when it’s time to stop and rest.

Yesterday afternoon around 5:30 p.m., I took her to the end of our street where there’s a big ‘ol field. We LOVE our new neighborhood by the way. I love everything about Oklahoma. Anyway, I took her over there for what I call “Stella’s Happy Hour” where she gleefully accepts every stick/frisbee/ball challenge I throw past her. Below is a quick iPhone video I took just to give you a precious little peak into her happy hour. Sorry in advance for the vertical-length filming!

It’s nothing fancy. You’re probably like, “…mmkay…it’s a dog playing fetch. That’s…great, Kath.” Yes, I know. But she’s MY dog playing fetch! But more importantly, while we all have these little inner struggles/excuses/fears – there’s inspiration staring us in the face, just WAITING for us to “go get it.”

What’s there to get?

It’s different for everyone. For me: it’s a long, consistent run where I don’t give in to walking the last 2 miles. It’s those magazines and publishing companies I want to work for as a freelance writer but am sometimes too shy to put myself out there. It’s the terrifying feeling I sometimes get when I hit “Publish” on this little blog in fear of someone not liking it, or that someone’s annoyed that I write about my dog playing fetch, or they’re annoyed that I’m a genuinely happy person who wants to share some happiness with the world. That last one gets me every time. Those Negative Nancys out there spark fear of judgment and insignificance sometimes.

What the…what on EARTH?! Those are the silliest fears I’ve ever heard. Funny though…because they’re fears and excuses that cloud my judgment. I’m human, and I know I’m not alone. What are your fears? What’s holding you back? It’s helpful to get ’em out there in the open and own up to the fact that they’re holding you back. You deserve to be successful in whatever form of success you define.

So, go get it.

This morning, Sean and I woke up around 5:45 and went for a run with Stella around our neighborhood. It was awesome!!! Yes, we were tired, but we were fine and knew when it was time to stop. When we stopped running it was awesome….because we stopped running…haha. BUT also because we got it. We broke the excuses and started a new routine in our new town.

Now, go get it!

Run for your Life!

Why is it that my most important posts often take a back seat to those like “bacon mac and cheese” or “homemade apple pie?” They of course are delightful to make, devour, and write about…but this one is especially important to me. I’ve been pretty reflective lately thanks to the simplicity of a change in season. With the exercise-friendly weather in full bloom, I have no excuse but to create a sense of urgency for my health. Same goes for all of us, right? It all seems to happen at once: the last evidence of gross dirty slush along the street finally melts away…the timid flower buds and tree leaves begin to bloom like a light of hope at the end of a terribly long dark tunnel (a.k.a. “winter”)…and all of us stumble out of our homes to be graciously greeted by the sun on our face, triggering a long sigh of relief. Spring…Summer…finally. But what to do?

I’m gonna run for my life!

Seriously. My Facebook and Instagram news-feeds have been blowin’ up recently with posts from friends who did a Color Run, a half-marathon, a MARATHON!, a new Ragnar Relay, etc. You know who you are…and to all of you I whole heartedly thank you for doing just what I should be doing. You’re an inspiration! I’m afraid I’m a few months late to the party of runners who already tackled a ton of great races, but hey – it’s still cool to be fashionably late, right? I was very good about running consistently last year. I proudly accomplished a 5K, 10 miler, my first half-marathon (shout out to my girl Carrianne Downey – such an amazing running buddy!), and I even finished off the year strong with an unforgettable experience running in Tennesee (shout out to my #georgesgirls team! Also see my Dear Tennesee post for a taste of how glorious it was). Lots of inspiration surrounded me all year:

But as the winter came and went, my excuses for not exercising seemed to linger a little too long for no good reason.  Before I could say “that was a great run”…it was…wait…it IS almost June. I’m out of shape.

Get it together, Katherine!

And so I will. I’ve put together a nerdy little running schedule for this week in hopes of getting back in shape. Here it is:

Monday: 1 mile warm up (Sean & Stella came too!), 2 mile run, 2 mile walk

Tuesday: 1 mile walk @ lunchtime, 2 mile run @ 5pm

Wednesday: 1 mile run @ 6am, 1 mile walk @ lunchtime, 3 mile run @ 5pm

Thursday: 1 mile run @ 6am, 2 mile walk @ lunchtime, 1 mile run @ 5pm

Friday: 1 mile run @ 6am

Saturday: 3 mile run/walk

Sunday: REST Running with my girl Stella

Thank goodness for a starter-schedule, inspiration from friends, and of course Miss Stella. She’s our yellow lab. She has always been a quiet little inspiration along each run. She’ll often look back at me as we’re climbing a hill with her wide open smile that says:

“Wooohooo!” *panting* “We got this!!!” *panting* “SQUIRL!”

She has gotten me through long runs, short runs, and even a few simple walks around the neighborhood when I’ve just needed to take it easy. Her endless enthusiasm and appreciation for each little outdoor adventure leaves me forever grateful that we have her in our lives.

I’ll leave you with a few reasons to get out there yourself just in case you’re needing a little inspiration. Here are 5 senses that I adored on my run/walk last night. Further confirmation that exercise is better than watching T.V. Enjoy!

  • the smell of honey suckle while passing through the 1st mile of my run. A sweet reminder of how glorious it is to be outside on a beautiful day.
  • the sight of an older man walking his older lab…both at their own steady pace. A precious vision of patience and loyalty.
  • the sound of a street performer’s violin serenading Bethesda Row as I completed my run. An unexpected symphony of joy celebrating my mini-accomplishment for the day.
  • the taste of ice water with lemon when I arrived home exhausted but proud. A reminder of how delicious yet crucial something so simple can be for our health.
  • the feeling of a BBQ scented breeze passing me by as I finished my last mile. A heart felt reminder of two things surrounding Memorial Day: a backyard grill-style dinner awaiting me that night, and more importantly – our dear selfless men and women who served and continue to serve our great country.

Now go run/walk for your life!

Inspiration

Good grief. Getting back into a strong weekly exercise routine isn’t as glamorous as it used to be. And by “glamorous” I mean that back in the day I didn’t want to hurl at the top of a massive hill after running 20 minutes…why not?…ah…well you see that’s because, back in the day, I was actually in shape.

Not gonna lie. I will certainly toot my own horn here and say that I was a good athlete. I rowed competitively for 8 years straight (all my love to the ladies and gentlemen from both the Conestoga High School and Washington College crew teams!). It set me in place for some of the most unbelievable life lessons that only the quiet strength of repetition through matching 8 oars as one stroke, 8 bodies in one motion, and 8 minds toward one goal can do for you.  It’s an amazing sport if you haven’t tried it yet. Then there was the bike trip in 2007. I cycled across America with 3 friends from college, and our mission (OTHER than to get safely from one side of the nation to the other) was to encourage Americans to quit smoking, and to promote lung health. “If we can ride across America, you can quit smoking.” That was our motto and we actually had an overwhelming amount of pledges. Despite the lactic acid filling our legs as we pumped each pedal to climb the Cascade Mountains in Washington, despite North Dakota’s extreme July heat pounding down on our every move, and despite the threat of massive trucks screaming by us as we pedaled fearfully along the side of the road…it was all worth it.

So yeah, that’s all lovely…but NOW what? I just have to re-train myself. It’s not easy, but looking back on all of the physical pain, the lessons learned, the medals won and lost, the friends made, and the feeling I got when I conquered personal goals – it’s all worth it. Sean, Stella and I all went for a run last Sunday and we successfully took on 5 miles. SO GOOD to say that again. To have both my man and my doggie each running with me was the most inspirational feeling. To keep things interesting, I also ran with Stella this afternoon. I figured, “I did 5 miles two days ago…what’s 3 miles today.” LEGS OF MUSH…THAT’S WHAT! My legs were super sore today. I ran most of it, then started to walk the last mile…and Stella got very confused. She kept looking up at me with that preciously puzzled face like something was wrong. How do you tell your dog “I’m out of shape” when she wants to run like the wind! So after she melted my heart a little, I gave in. We ran the rest of the way home, and we both were thankful.

Inspiration is everywhere. Past, present, and future…it’s everywhere. Rowing, cycling, and even running in past races have all been there for me in my past inspirations.

As for my present inspirations: Sean and Stella are my rockstars. My friends and family who hold exercising and healthy living to such a respectful level – they’re also constants in my life when it comes to inspirations. I also want to give a special shout out to a fellow blogger, friend, and former Washington College co-worker & alumna: Aundra. She has always been an inspiration with her ongoing projects, her blogging, both her meal and home project creations, her love of Zumba, and more recently – her reconnection with running. Check out her blog if you could use a little inspiration as well:

FIT FOR LIFE

That leaves future inspirations. Now, I’m not held to the demands of a competitive team like I once was, I certainly haven’t been fundraising for a cross-country cycling expedition, and I don’t really have any new goals other than simply feeling athletic again. So…where do I look for future success? Two things:

I’ll admit it…I’m addicted to Pinterest. Whatever. At least it’s a healthy addiction! Seriously though, this gives me constant inspiration for future workouts & meals.

The second future inspiration of mine has been this bad boy: Active.com, showing me all of the upcoming races (5k, 10 miler, etc.) in my area. Once I register for a run – I’m immediately held accountable for not only showing up and running the race, but also to prove to myself that I’m still pretty awesome. This page also lets you create your own profile. Pretty sweet! I’m feeling special already.

Between the GLORIOUS weather this summer has brought us so far, the 2012 Summer Olympics right around the corner, and…ohhhh I don’t know….the overall well-being of your heart and soul – find your inspirations. And if anyone needs a running partner – you better let me know!

Happy sweating.

Day Off (Part II)

Operation day-off was a total success! If you’ve read my previous post from this morning, you’ll remember my wish list of items to conquer today. Well guess who got competitive….this girl:

  • My day-off breakfast. Started off the day with my FAVORITE day-off breakfast: coffee (duh), an egg white omelete with feta cheese and arugula, and grits (no judging, I’m a proud child of the South). It was delicious. Stella and I cozied up to the Today Show while I enjoyed the first few hours of my day.
  • Running with Stella. Today was unbelievable. Truly. Did you see it? Did you literally breathe, smell, and completely take in that spring air? Oh my goodness gracious. It was a lovely little run. And by little, I do mean little. Even though the sunshine was delightful, I was hurtin’ yet again up this one massive hill that completes the trail in our neighborhood. Stella was an angel though. She just kept me going, looking up at me with her drooling smile as she guided me back home. Just under 3 miles today, but it was well worth it.
  • Target time! Got cute, inexpensive clothes (see “Cute new dress.” listed on the previous wish list – DONE AND DONE!), bought new pots and pans for our kitchen, wall art on canvas for the guest room, and way too many other goodies!
  • A clean house. I’m seriously exhausted. I haven’t cleaned like that in a long time. I’m talkin’ vacuum cleaner pumpin’ (which I despise using), swifer jet moppin’, “Fantastic” sprayin’, dish washin’, laundry folding’ ~ kind of cleaning that lasted all day. I may be exhausted, but my house smells delightful. Sean was really happy and surprised to come home to all of this tonight. Love that man!
  • Wedding Wishes. Sometimes, your first choice venue just doesn’t work out the way you want it to. Up until recently, we had found the PERFECT wedding venue in the mountains of South Carolina.  But just about a week ago, we received a notice that this golf course + real estate community (which held our chapel and reception venues) has declared bankruptcy. It’s truly a wake up call to experience the harsh repercussions and inconsistencies of this economic situation that our beloved America continues to face. Although we hear that the community may be bought by a new owner, we don’t want to stew in worries all year just hoping that all will turn out well. Maybe it will, but who really knows? After speaking with family and friends – it seems like the best idea to move on with a new venue search. Luckily, we didn’t loose our deposit, giving us a clean break. So today I called our photographer, hoping that she can still work the new potential location in Asheville, NC. I also researched potential vendors’ price points and reviewed our budget. All in all – it was great to have a day to catch up on this little “hiccup” and set us down a better path. As for other fun wedding news: we’ve chosen our honeymoon destination….Hawaii!!! Predicable? Perhaps. Unbelievably romantic and adventurous? Absolutely 🙂 We want two weeks…and we have been recommended to go to Maui. Any recommendations on places to stay, things to do (I really want to hike a volcano!), all-inclusive resorts, etc? Let me know. Sean & I have both separately been to Hawaii before, but we’re excited to plan our first two weeks out there as  Mr. & Mrs. Mason!
  • Pinterest. All over it today!
  • Cupcakes! Yay!!! This was one task that I wasn’t sure about. I loved the idea of making cupcakes today, but it was a bit of a long shot considering all that I wanted to accomplish. Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting = deliciousness. 
  • New recipe. Here’s where I went even crazier. Brushetta for an appetizer AND this phenomenal meal which happens to be the cover of my new favorite cookbook, “Buonissimo!” by Gino D’Acampo. You have to…have to…HAVE TO buy this cookbook:Okay so there’s the cover…and let’s compare to how my meal worked out:

Buonissimo indeed! It was SO GOOD! Ohhhhh my goodness. Unbelievably good. My perfect day of productivity was ended with a romantic dinner with my future hubby, followed by a hilarious episode of New Girl. So…when’s your next day off?

Day Off (Part I)

Ever need a day to yourself when the rest of the world is working? One that frees you from work, an agenda, and permits your heart and soul to truly define the day?

Today is my day.

That’s right! I have the day off. “HOLLERRRR!” What to dooo!? Well, last weekend was spent in both Westchester County and Long Island, NY for work, so I intend to smush a weekend full of my wish list adventures into today. Special shout out to my AMAZING team (Andrew Bunting, Daniel Zimmet, and Mark Mansdoerfer) who I traveled with. Our mission was to host two admitted student receptions in those areas over the weekend. It was a TOTAL success!

Today’s post will come in two parts:

1) Part I: What I want to do with my day.

2) Part II: What I actually accomplished (both productive, and delightfully unproductive). I’ll deliver Part II after New Girl tonight, so stay tuned. Both for that show (9 p.m. on Fox) and for my little day off report that is 😉 And just because I’m excited…let’s take a little looksie at a preview of tonight’s show:

A day off is typically a day to sleep in and do nothing if your schedule allows for it, am I right? Well, not today. I have a wish list of all-things-delightful to accomplish, and I intend to takle it head-on. Not an agenda…just a wish list:

  • My day-off breakfast. Tales of this deliciousness coming soon.
  • Target time! I’m convinced that shopping at Target is one of the greatest things in life. I have things to buy, Starbucks coffee to enjoy, discounts to get excited over, and new decoration ideas to be inspired by.
  • A clean house. I adore coming home to a clean home…and call me old fashioned, but seeing the smile on Sean’s face when he comes home from work and the entire house is clean (this only happens when I’ve had the day off – don’t be fooled), is priceless.
  • Running with Stella. Remember when I was a rockstar last weekend? If not, read my last post! I need to keep up the athleticism, and today just so happens to be beautiful again. SO beautiful, in fact, that the sunshine just smacks a smile right on your face the moment you step outside. It’s time to exercise.
  • Wedding Wishes. 9 months from our wedding day may seem like an eternity, but the list of things to both plan, and RE-plan is growing by the minute. News on that later.
  • Pinterest. I mean let’s be honest, we all know it’s going to happen. Might as well add it to the list so that I can feel especially productive later!
  • Cupcakes! I love to bake. Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, anyone? I think it’s gonna happen. Work friends at Mason’s Office of Admissions – if you cheer me on in this task… you’ll be “sweetly” rewarded when I return tomorrow!
  • New recipe. I’m loving the ideas in one of my new recipe cookbooks. Tales of this deliciousness coming soon as well.
  • Cute new dress. I LOVE dresses, and would love a new one. Let’s see if I can fit this task in as well.

Oh my…it’s already 10:43 a.m….time to go. Who’s excited!? THIS GIRL!

Stay tuned.

Welcome to “Newlie!”

There’s always a new opportunity to learn more each day, so why not look at each moment as wide-eyed as possible? Typically I’m not the best at sticking to that philosophy. I might think I am, but let’s be honest – I go through my work day, maybe exercise…maybe not, cook, watch t.v., go on Facebook and Pinterest, sleep, and repeat! So, my blog “Newlie” is an archive of me devoting more positive attention to the time I can call my own:

my new adventures in cooking:

my new travel escapes:

being newly engaged:

living in a new house and neighborhood … with a boy : )

…and more newness to come!

I want to share the refreshing little day trip escapes that I normally would’ve never thought to visit. The heart warming restaurant service that made my day. The cooking experience gone horribly wrong, and the unbelievably tasty meal that came from learning my first mistake. The special deal on a kayaking adventure. The genius Pinterest inspiration that turned into a dinner party sensation. Life is too short not share it with each other…am I right?

Happy reading : )