Posted in Uncategorized

Oh! Hi, there. (Ohaithere!)

It wasn’t until I saw that my previous post was entitled “Enter, enter, the first of November” that I realized how long it’s actually been since I’ve blogged.  “Busy” doesn’t begin  to describe it.

One thing I’ve been busy with recently is getting the apartment ready for Christmas 🙂

I’ve got a load of dishes in the washer right now, and once I’m done blogging, I’m prepared to go make cookies for a couple of hours.  In the mean time, though, here are some pictures of the Christmas festivities around our place:

Caribou and Tim Horton's Coffee Ornaments
We love our coffee enough to hang our love on a tree. Caribou when we’re in the states and Tim Horton’s when we’re not 🙂
Detail of our Tree
Detail of our Tree
Our tree, 2013
Our tree, 2013
Tim Horton's Ornament
Snowman with his extra large double double
Caribou Coffee cup ornament
Large chai latte with a shot of cinnamon and a shot of espresso. yum.
German Shepard Angel Ornament
In memory of Damon
Nicolin Mansion Ornament
We stayed at the Nicolin Mansion for our Honeymoon ❤
We toured the Coors brewery with Lori and Ross when we went to visit them :)
We toured the Coors brewery with Lori and Ross when we went to visit them 🙂
Initial "P" Ornament
Monogrammed ornament 🙂 It was originally to celebrate Jeff’s first Christmas in the states, but now his initial is mine too! (Our 1st Christmas as a married couple, awe)
English Bulldog ornament
In memory of Otis, our duh-dog who was half pit, half bull, all awesome.
Angel dog ornament
In memory of Dutch, my favorite Rottie.
Snapfish Snowflake Photo Ornament
I love the photo ornaments we have on our tree. Get ’em at
Our tree is topped by a serene angel this year. Her head is just shy of our ceiling.
paper snow flakes on a glass door
The paper ones preceded the real ones
Candycanes in the snow
Candycanes in the snow
View from the balcony
View from the balcony
Skinny Santa figurine
Skinny Santa
Bowl of Balls w/ Bow (Red Glitter)
Bowl of Balls w/ Bow
Bowl of Balls 2 (blue glitter)
Bowl of Balls 2
Posted in Fitness, Life + Living

Chiropractor – Week 1 Update

I’m having a hard time thinking of what to say because I think that the pictures pretty much tell the story.  I’ve been complaining of back pain for a while now.. and I realized recently that it’s been SINCE JUNE that I’ve had trouble.  Originally, it was upper back pain that my PCP designated as a Rhomboid Strain.   I saw a Physical Therapist who said no, it’s not a rhomboid strain, it’s a misalignment of the hips.  Some exercises and therapy and ta-da! The upper back pain was gone.  But then I had mid-back pain.  I attributed it to my gaming and resolved to just exercise more frequently and stand more.  I built a standing station at work but things still didn’t get any better… nay! Then I got low back pain.

This is on top of the chronic hip pain that I’ve had for ages.

I finally went to see a Chiropractor when a spasm put me in tears at work and my mom got insistent.  I was able to get in on Friday and they did some pretty fancy scans to figure out what the problem is, where it might be, and what might be causing it.  I had to wait through the weekend to find out what the problem was, but when I got the results, they were a bit staggering… like, the want to cry because it seems so futile type staggering..but, I’m a cry-baby, so that’s neither here nor there. First, we took a look at muscle symmetry.. so how hard the muscles are ‘pulling’ on either side of my spine (click for larger image):



The C1 vertebrae in my neck, for example, is being pulled to the left 175% more than the right because those muscles are activated and compensating.  I’m not a trained doctor, so I can’t interpret these results like a professional, and it’s been a little while since they were explained, but basically, when looking at the middle ‘graph’ the lengths of the bars (no matter the color) indicates the muscle activity.  Differences in length indicate differences in activity.  Color coded bars highlight areas of concern or significant differences.  I have pain at the L5 (lumbar) area of my back, and from L1 through T6.  At this very moment, I also have mild pain in areas T10, 11, 12.  But these graphs don’t measure pain, they measure muscle activity.  The next scan measures areas of concern that may also be reflecting pain due to inflammation and/or nerve pressure:



I’m honestly surprised that L5 doesn’t show up more on these scans because it has LIT UP since starting to receive treatment.  It would certainly show up on a scan today.

These beginning scans start to point at an underlying problem that I’m hoping to correct through regular chiropractic care:



Look at the spinal alignment on the left.  Note how the pelvis is actually off-center a little to the left of the parallel lines.  Now scroll up and note where my spine travels and where my skull is ‘centered’ on the parallel lines.  I assure you, they were straight up and down on the wall I was standing in front of.   Standing ‘straight-‘ on my feet that distribute weight with more than a 25 pound difference right to left.  The x-ray on the right is highlighting the beginning of a loss of the curvature of my spine.

close-up spineThe number 6 there is calling attention to a vertebrae in my neck that has started to come out of alignment as a result of those muscles pulling and pulling to my left.  Here it is in chiropractic jargon:



Phase 1 disc degeneration and the very beginning stages of ‘spinal arthritis’ in my thoracic spine.  I’m hopeful that it can be halted or reversed with regular chiropractic care.  I’m signed up to meet with my doctor every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next 4-6 weeks.  I’ve got 18 appointments all plotted out already, carrying me into March.  I’ve gotten adjusted 3 times so far.  The first time I didn’t feel any different.  The second, my hips felt worse.  The third time, I felt tender at the L5 location but it felt GOOD to stand all day and I didn’t even want to sit.

I’m keeping hope that Chiropractic care will help.  I’m getting a new swim suit this weekend so I can continue swimming regularly at my local fitness center.  Once Jeff and I move, we’ll also be looking into getting new, more supportive bed.  He’s on board with my care plan and said he’d do whatever it takes for me to get better.

I’m glad that I went and that we have a plan.  I’ll do another update in March when I get new scans so that you can follow along with my progress.  Let’s go out and have a healthy day!


Posted in Life + Living, Wedding Planning

Crazy little thing called love

I figured that I may as well post about our wedding planning since Valentines day is right around the corner.  This post is being brought to you via the mighty WordPress mobile app.  And sometimes my keyboard gets finicky and I end up with unresolved typos. I ask your forgiveness up front…

Just kidding, any typos are the result of fluffy fluffy paws on the keyboard.
Just kidding, any typos are the result of fluffy fluffy paws on the keyboard.

So the latest development with wedding planning includes the conclusion of the majority of alterations on my gown.  My mom asked a friend to “take a look at it” but this friend ended up working wonders.  I was in my gown standing on a wine crate while she’s got pins at the ready. “yep and I’m just going to baste it here…” And before I could get too carried away with the mental image of her using a turkey baster in some manner she saw my look of confusion and explained what basting meant.  “oh!! Like what the mice do in Cinderella!!”

I think she needed a moment to decide whether or not to be offended, or perhaps just to recall the scene in question.. Then her face lit up and she confirmed my simile.  Diane had been just wonderful and I’d say my dress is about 98% complete.

The invitations were assembled with the help of some good friends.  My buddy Gloria has some really nice pictures of the details, but we’re waiting to release those until they’ve had time to arrive in the mail.  Once I get the first update that the invitation was received, there’ll be a flood of invitation detail pictures and descriptions posted here 🙂

You've got mail!



We were able to go to the post office at the international airport to get the invitations mailed.  They’re the only post office I know of that’s open until 11pm on weeknights.  The clock behind Jeff’s head is accurate =P  I think it was almost 9pm by the time we were done 🙂  The cool news is that they’ve come out with a new “Global Forever” stamp that can be used to mail any 1oz letter ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD for the low low price of $1.10.

Considering we thought that the cost of mailing each Canadian invitation was going to be $6.75, we were THRILLED to discover this new stamp.  The stamps for the U.S. invitations were only $0.66 each and featured cute little cakes on them.



We’ve got plans for the rehearsal dinner (cupcakes will be involved!), got the measurements started for the men’s tuxes, corrupted Lori and Ross with Talenti ice cream, and got some more details worked out.  It’s honestly staggering to realize how much we’ve done and how much we still have left to do.  Things are really moving along and we’re pretty excited about it.

So, on this wedding-related note, happy Valentine’s day!  No matter where you’re at in your life-stages, take time today to reflect on things that make you happy, and the people and pets that you love.  It’s just a day for love and warm fuzzies, so I hope you catch some 🙂

Posted in Food, New Food, Weight Watchers

K.I.S.S. – having a meal plan

When it comes to dinner, sometimes my good intentions go right out the window.  It’s been a long day of doing [x, where x=working, cleaning, or doing nothing] and when it comes to dinner time, even if there’s a “plan” in place, the excuse of “I don’t feeeeeeeeeeeeeel like cooking! *huff/stomp/pout*” comes out.

In this moment, it seems like it would be easier to just pick up the phone or go online and place an order for some sort of sustenance to fill the hungry hole. But what does that sort of decision cost in the way of time and money? And is it REALLY worth the effort?  Let’s break it down:

Our top three options for ‘I dont wanna’ usually include Domino’s, Jimmy John’s, or Wendy’s.

1 – Large Specialty Pizza, + taxes and delivery, +tip ~$25.00
1 – Side order of parmesan bread bites because we just can’t resist ~ $3
Total: ~$28.00, 30 minutes of waiting, 10 minutes of eating, hours of guilt for spending money we didn’t need to, eating bread bites we didn’t need to, and loading up on greasy cheesy pizza that is essentially nutritionally void. Worth it?

Jimmy John’s: 
2 – Bootleggers, + taxes and delivery, + tip ~$14.00
2 – side order of chips because they’re too good to resist, ~$3.00
2 – side order, giant chocolate chunk cookie, ~$4.00
Total: ~$21.00, 10 minutes of waiting, 10 minutes of eating, up to an hour of guilt for spending money we didn’t need to, eating almost 400 calories worth of mayo because I always forget to tell them to leave it off, upset stomach due to the kettle chips and the chocolate chunk–and why? Because we didn’t feel like cooking. Worth it?

2 – Asiago Chicken Ranch Clubs
1 – 1/4 lb. Classic
1 – side of chili
2 – Softdrinks (small)
Total: ~$15-20, depending on prices and variables in choices; prices are not published online. Wendy’s doesn’t deliver, but they’re up the road from us, less than a mile so we take the time to go down to the car and drive there (yep. you read that correctly), go through the drive-through, and then drive home because we don’t feel like cooking. But we feel like getting dressed, putting shoes on, waiting in line, paying money for food that (again) is nutritionally void, going back home and disposing of all the trash.  Worth it?

See?  When you really take a look at how ‘convenient’ convenience food really isn’t it becomes easier to make meals at home.  One of our new discoveries is from Campbell’s and it’s called ‘Skillet sauces‘ – you just add chicken (or beef, or shrimp) and serve over pasta or rice.  So, the box of rice is a couple bucks and it lasts us a couple months.  This is the first one that we tried, but, we were pretty impressed with it. The skillet sauce packets likely goes on sale, so if you get a chance, you could stash them in the cupboard for days when you just don’t feel like it.

Last night, we were tired and unmotivated and having one of those ‘don’t feel like it’ moments.  I felt the urge rising to call for pizza, but, my new year’s resolutions are to lose weight, save money, and get better at my job.  Well, heyo!  Ordering in goes against two of those objectives.  Keep it simple, stupid–cook at home!  Save time, save money, control portions and nutrition.

I defrosted chicken in the microwave while setting a pot on the stove to boil water for the rice.  I measured the rice and sliced up a cucumber while those two finished.  While the rice started cooking, I sliced up the chicken and browned it in the skillet.  Add the toasted sesame ginger sauce on top and heat through–voila, meal is done.  We went from frozen chicken and two packets of ingredients to a nutritionally sound meal in approximately 20 minutes for a cost less than $3/person.


When making your new year’s resolutions, flesh them out a bit.  How does having a meal plan or back-up plan take my KISS goal and make it a SMART goal?

S – Specific – I want to save at least $100/month for the next year.

M – Measurable – I saved (by not spending) net $17.00 by not ordering in.

A – Attainable – If I can continue to make decisions to eat at home like this, I can definitely save over $100/month.  This would include brown-bagging it for lunches and eating breakfast at home, too.

R – Relevant – Preparing and eating food from home, let’s say 4/5 work days, is relevant and applicable to my goals to save money, lose weight (remember I can control portion and nutrition), AND to become better at my job – when I stop to pick something up on the way to work, I usually scoot in a few minutes late.  Being punctual will improve my perception at work, and, perceptions are realities.

T – Time-bound – The time is weekly, adding up to monthly, adding up to the entire year of 2013.

What are some other ideas that you have for quick back-up plans for when you don’t feel like cooking?  Crock-pots are always good because you can just toss in a few ingredients and it does its thing while you do yours.  What else?

Posted in Food, Recipe

Fall is here! It’s apple time! (mini apple pie recipe)


It’s officially fall in Minnesota, and what better way to kick off the season than to go to the apple orchard?  My niece called me this morning and got my bum out of bed for a last-minute invite to the orchard.  Mine and my sisters’ misters couldn’t come, so it was just a girls day down on the farm.


I had never been to an orchard before (to the best of my knowledge) so it was quite a fun experience to buy our little bags and then go pick apples fresh off the trees.  Honestly, I’ve been drawing apple trees wrong the whole time.  They do not have tall trunks and bushy tops with apples dotted along the outside.  These apple trees had short trunks with sprawling limbs that nearly (and sometimes *did*) reach the ground.

With my haul, I decided to make mini apple pies for Jeff and I.  The types of apples we got to pick were “Haralson” which were small and kind of tart.  They were zippy!  My opinion of Haralson is that they are good for baking, but need a little help from sweeteners (white or brown sugar), but they would be good for snacking on with some honey or melted caramel. Mmm!

The best part about tagging along is that I got to tell my niece one of my favorite clean jokes:  What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?  … Finding half-a-worm in your apple!



Megan’s Healthy Apple Pie:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup milk


Mix together flour, oil, and milk with a fork until it starts to hold together in little balls/crumbles–don’t over-work it!  Use your hands to form it into 2, 3, 4–however many crusts you would like.  Roll out between sheets of wax paper. Use a cutter of appropriate size to form mini crusts or just use a regular sized pie tin.  Make sure you have enough crust to cover your pie.

If you are making mini pies, dice the apples so that you can fit quite a bit into each cup.  If you are making a regular pie, slice however you like.

“Season” with cinnamon and sugar to taste.  Top apples with a small pat of butter… maybe 1/2 teaspoon per mini pie.  Use a couple teaspoons of butter for a full-sized pie. Just eyeball it, it’s just to keep things moist and provide that hint-of-butter taste.

Top with the remaining crust(s), brush with a little bit of butter (just enough to glaze the top of the crust) and sprinkle with more cinnamon.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Serve with ice cream (vanilla bean or caramel would be superb!) and enjoy!

Posted in Life + Living

Volunteers Wanted!


Assembling healthy snack packs for a kids at a local shelter

I starting working on this blog back on August 2nd at 7:00am.  It is now 10:01pm on Wednesday August 8th.  Where does the time go?!  It goes crazy, I tell you.  It goes crazy.

I am lucky enough to have a steady job in a company that I like with the flexibility to have nights and weekends off.  They encourage personal development, community involvement and philanthropy–and not just on the surface!  All year long I have automatic deductions from my pay check that go directly to support the local United Way.  Sporadically throughout the year I get to participate in varying volunteer opportunities, but every summer we have Global Community Days.  We stuff healthy snack packs to deliver to kids in the community, cooking kits for the elderly in assisted living, clean up the neighborhood, etc.

This year, I was privileged enough to be able to volunteer at Crisis Nursery in Minneapolis:

“The mission of the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery is to end child abuse and neglect and create strong, healthy families.”

Two shifts of volunteers completed 9 hours of work to transform the front garden from an almost blank patch of dirt to a riot of colorful plants and paths.  The work was hard, but the result was so rewarding.

One of my favorite memories from this experience is from the group tour of the facility at the beginning of the volunteer event.  The coordinator was leading us through the halls and I became separated from the group.  As I was following to catch up, I came upon a group of children who were obediently lining up against the wall in preparation to go outside to play.  They were between 3 and 5 years old, probably.  One girl came away from the wall and hugged my legs, giggled and looked up at me.  I patted her back (probably awkwardly) and then the whole gaggle of girls came and hugged me and it was a fit of affection and laughter.  I was patting backs and looking at the teacher like “what do I do now?” LOL  I kindly asked the girls “Aren’t you supposed to be lining up against the wall?” and like magic they dispersed and went against the wall again but kept their giggles.  For just a moment it was easy to forget that they were there because their family was in turmoil.

Another event that I participated in recently was Operation Stand Down at Fort Snelling.  My mom and I heard about it on Facebook 15 hours before the event and shifted our schedules all around to accommodation it. For a few hours in the evening, we shucked corn, served potatoes, smiled, conversed, and interacted with homeless veterans in the area.  It was humbling, to say the least.  One gentleman that I met is already stocking up for winter and came hoping to secure a tent, a cot, a blanket, and a can opener.  He got a change of clothes and a blanket.  Another that I talked to was going to school in the evenings while living in a homeless camp under an overpass.  How can I complain about working and going to school?  Wouldn’t one think that being homeless and going to school would be the bigger and more stressful challenge?  And then there was the charmer.  An 85 year old gentleman who wanted to be an architect but recognized that he wouldn’t be able to finish school in time to accomplish anything with his degree–but still appreciated the beauty in the structures around him.

I left that night hot and sweaty from the blazing summer sun, but I returned to a home with a shower and a fan if not air conditioning.  And I counted all of my blessings.

Volunteering, for me, is becoming a bigger part of my activities.  It just feels so good to lend a helping hand to those who need it most.  If you would like to get involved in volunteer activities in your town, just google “volunteering in [the name of your city]” or visit to find volunteer opportunities in your town where you can do as little or as much as you’d like–and then come back and share your stories 🙂

Posted in Fitness, Life + Living, Measurements, Strength Training

Out with the old and in with the new!

A good pair of work out shoes, at least a good pair of mine, get the life beaten out of them before they get replaced.  This was my last pair of running shoes before the ones that I used in the dash.  I got them from Nordstrom Rack a while back (over a year ago?) and they were $45.  I thought I scored a great deal on them! At that point, I had never shopped at Nordstrom Rack, but I *had* paid a prettier penny for similar shoes at other stores.

It’s hard not to get swept up in the glitz and the glamour of big-box-retailers–especially when you live within walking distance of Dick’s Sporting Goods:


You walk in and suddenly you’re engulfed in the Willy Wonka-style world of sports – indoor and out, with everything you can possibly think of needing for your sporting pleasure.  Of course, they have prices to go with it.  Of course, they have a coupon and a rewards program that makes it very reasonable, too, so–there’s that. But, I digress.  We moved out of that neighborhood and now live a comfortable 5-10 minute drive from anywhere we might want or need to spend a bunch of money.  Our latest sporting purchase came from a new sporting goods store that you also might have in your area: Sports Authority.  Now, the name of this store doesn’t make me giggle as much, but their store principals must be very very similar.  We walked into the doors and–you know how some stores, you walk in and you’re greeted with the smell of stale air conditioning?–we were greeted with the smell of SPORTS! – Iron, cotton, latex, and whatever gumption smells like, this store had it.. just long enough to give the impression that they would be fully competent in supplying our sporting good needs.


The cool thing about this store is that I can actually come across gift cards for it rather easily through a rewards program at work.  I do things that are above and beyond, my co-workers recognize that and nominate me to receive a gift card of my choosing–I select Sports Authority, and bada-bing! New equipment for “free.”  Now, of course, I work my tail off to get things done around there, and I certainly can’t expect such awards on a recurring basis, but I was able to save up points and get enough for a new pair of shoes for both Jeff and I this time around. 🙂

We found ourselves separated and enveloped in a shoe wonderland of our own for about 20  minutes or so.  The selection of women’s shoes as pretty impressive, but their selection (in my size) of training shoes left something to be desired.  For the first time since high school, I was looking specifically for a cross-trainer that could be used for cardio but still provide ample support for my strength training sessions.  I only had enough on my gift card for two pair of shoes and one of those was for Jeff so mine had to do double duty.

I found another great pair of Asics that I think will meet my needs.  They’ve got ‘gel-cushioning’ and mid-sole support for mild pronation.  I did a few lunges and squats in the store, but you can hardly tell if they’ll stand up to the type of beating that I give my shoes.  They were marked as trainers, but there’s also a part of me that’s a little worried that these are still considered running shoes.. Mostly because of the ratio of mesh to leather:


Jeff started his search in Men’s running shoes and was looking for trainers but only found ones marked as “Athletic.”  We asked a clerk if men’s “athletic” shoes were considered cross-trainers.  She rambled on ad nauseum about how things changed and wandered her way to telling us about the rewards program that they have and “Just let them know that I helped you, up at the front.”  Somehow I think this rewards thing goes both ways.. But that’s neither here nor there–it saved us 5% on our purchase and we’re already on our way to saving more this quarter.  Anyway, after her presentation got snuck in, we were pointed to a different aisle that had a scant selection of shoes marked as trainers for Men.

Jeff was a good sport and tried on a few, but, truth be told, he had already fallen in love with an “athletic” shoe.  Since he’s still in the beginning stage of working out, he’s not yet doing much in the way of lateral movements or high impact moves, so I think his shoes (also Asics) will work out just fine.  Come to think of it.. they look like a black-and-orange manlier version of mine:


We also got a new Camelbak Groove and  technical shirt for him, so we’re all geared up for round two of personal training with Emily.  I have lost 2″ on my waist and Jeff has lost close to 10lbs, I’d wager.  We’re excited to keep going 🙂

In other super happy fun time news – yesterday was day 1 that I went entirely without any confections, desserts, or chocolate.  It’s another of my attempts to quit cold-turkey.  The next sweet I eat will be wedding cake 😀