August 30, 2013

Gift Wrap Organization

I finished my gift wrap organization station this week, and thought I'd share the idea with you.

I originally found the idea while searching on Pinterest, and came up with my own version. These two photos were my inspiration:

gift wrapping organized - great for a pantry.

Gift wrap organizer

The Container Store has a hanging over the door system, but it was almost $90 and I didn't want to spend that much. I used this four tiered closet organizer from Home Depot ($20) and paired it with these $3 hooks.

This style of hook should henceforth be referred to as drunk octopus hooks. See?

Drunk octopus wants to fight! 

Anyway. Bam. An easy, inexpensive alternative to stuffing all of my gift wrap into one of those long, under-the-bed storage bins. I (still) don't know how to use the drill, so Charlie hung them all on the back of the office door for me.

I used curtain ring clips in order to hang my wrapping paper. I suppose you could hang flattened paper boxes this way, too. I also used glass mason jars to hold ribbon.

Wrapping gifts is now much less of a pain. I can see exactly what we have, and I don't have to dig through a bin of tissue paper, ribbons, gift wrap, tape, and gift bags.

I love how slim the profile is. We always have the office door open, and you'd never even know anything was behind it.

August 27, 2013

Chocolate Macaroons

I have recently discovered a little corner of heaven on earth called macaroons. I don't know why I'm so late in the game, but I have now arrived.

For Christmas last year, my brother got me the Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh cookbook. I was leafing through it this afternoon, and kept coming back to the chocolate macaroons recipe. Oh a whim, I decided to make them (I've never made macaroons before) and OH. MY. GOSH. they are SO GOOD

I signed and oohed and ahhed my way through two of them (What About Bob style) and then helped myself to a third. And maybe ate another while writing this post. Maybe. Here's the recipe:
  • 1 1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
Melt one cup of chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring frequently. Cool to room temperature.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. 
Gradually add in the sugar and vanilla, beating until the whites are thick and glossy.
With a spatula, fold in the melted chocolate, coconut, and remaining chocolate chips.
Drop batter by heaping teaspoons onto two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets.
Bake at 325 for 18 - 20 minutes, rotating the pans half way through.

Then try to only eat one. 

August 3, 2013

Couch to 5K

Lapping those couch potatoes

A few weeks ago, I finished a couch to 5K program. This may not sounds like much of a life event, but I'm pretty excited about it. 

I've been a "walker" my whole life and have a relatively healthy and active lifestyle. I've always wanted to run, but have never been able to. I'd start running, last 3 blocks, and be painfully winded. I could walk for hours on end and be fine, but two minutes of running was out of the question.

Enter the Couch to 5K Running Plan. I figured this plan could give me a leg up- heck, I'm not even starting from couch potato position.

There were weeks that were easy, and weeks that were very hard. I had to repeat the fourth week 3 times- for whatever reason, I couldn't push through and finish the last running chunk. But I did eventually!

I'm proud of myself for sticking with something that was hard, and often not fun. But it feels SO good to have accomplished a goal I've always wanted, but never thought I could. Now I can easily run for a half and hour- CRAZY!

I'm not one of those nuts who thinks that running is incredibly fun and addicting. There are moments of a run that feel fun (like when it's windy and I'm running downhill listening to Baba Yetu and I feel like a fully competent Ethiopian marathon runner, gallivanting across the African dessert.). Don't make fun.

I learned a few things that have helped me run:
  • Tell people. They'll hold you accountable to keep going.
  • Circular breathing (in through your nose, out through your mouth). This was game changing.
  • It's okay to slow your pace. My goal was for time, not distance. I'm still working my way up to the distance of a 5K (the program works both ways, you can use it for time or for distance- I chose time). I know I'll get there soon!
  • Upbeat music. I needed it the first few weeks to keep me going and to keep my pace. Here's my (embarrassing) list of songs that I found helpful while running:
    • "That Girl" (Frankie J) Frank Frank Frank Frank Frank Fresssshhhh. Not super edifying, but the perfect running beat.
    • "I Need Love" (NSYNC). Yes.... a boy band. :)
    • Fireflies (Owl City)
    • Your Great Name (Natalie Grant) 
    • Breathe (Michelle Branch)
    • Baba Yetu (Christopher Tin)
    • Marry You (Bruno Mars)
    • Testify to Love (Avalon) This one I'm a little embarrassed about. Avalon was very candy pop and 8th grade, but it ended up being a great running song and the lyrics are good. And true. :)
    • Curbside Prophet (Jason Mraz)
So there it is. I finished the program, and am still going strong. It took me longer than 9 weeks due to multiple April blizzards (like, snow day April blizzards) and not always doing the 3 workouts per week. 

Keep Going.

And I did. And so can you!

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