Tips for Getting More Vegetables in Your Diet

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist or registered dietician. I am armed with little more than the common sense knowledge that you should include vegetables in your diet.

 

I grew up eating relatively healthy. My mom made us balanced meals for dinner, you had to eat your fruit before you could have your cookie, and we could drink one soda per weekend – usually splitting the can between Saturday and Sunday. Despite the introduction to many vegetables, I struggled to like them. I was distressed when my mom told me that corn and potatoes (my two favorites) were technically starches. Here are some ways I’ve learned to include more vegetables in my meals.

Bribe yourself. I love mac and cheese – not even the homemade stuff. I’m talking about the orange powder packet kind of mac and cheese. Now that I work from home, I face the temptation to make it for lunch on a regular basis. This is obviously not the healthiest option, so now whenever I want mac and cheese, it comes with strings attached, and those strings are broccoli. Broccoli, like most cruciferous vegetables, is not my favorite, but mixed with mac and cheese? It’s not so bad, then.

Learn new techniques. Did you know you’re supposed to massage kale? The first few times I made a kale salad, I didn’t massage it, and I thought kale being popular was a conspiracy theory. I couldn’t believe this was the superfood so many people were fawning over. Then I learned if you sprinkle some salt on kale and massage it, it actually tastes like food rather than roughage.

Mask them with stronger flavors. I got the cookbook Run Fast, Eat Slow for Christmas, and my friend Keri raved about the “Can’t Beet Me Smoothie.” Beets have an incredibly strong flavor, and I knew from smelling them that I probably wouldn’t like this smoothie. I choked down the first few batches, and then I adjusted the recipe. I added a higher ratio of blueberries and almond butter. Those increases plus the fresh ginger overpowered the beets, and now I get all of the benefits of beets without holding my nose while drinking my breakfast.

Add them in unexpected places. Another great recipe from Run Fast, Eat Slow is for the Superhero Muffins. In addition to normal ingredients like eggs and oats, these muffins have shredded carrots and zucchini as well. The shredding is a bit labor intensive, but these muffins freeze well, so it’s worth it to make a batch and defrost them as needed.

Thankfully there are vegetables that I like, so I don’t have to employ a trick or bribe every day. And if any of these stop working, the internet is full of recipes!

Pros and Cons of Having a Decent Memory

I have always been able to remember things pretty well. When I was a phone-a-holic in middle school, I had all of my friends’ numbers memorized. I still had a Lisa Frank address book, but it was just for backup. When I began running cross country, I could tell you the finish time and place for almost every race I ran. It is a normal occurrence for me to recite and entire conversation that Josh and I have had in the past of which he has no recollection. Of course, it served me well in school as well – where most of what is asked of you is to remember formulas or facts. I don’t have a photographic memory, so I still had to study to remember those facts, but it matched with my learning style well.

I’ve learned there can be some downfalls of having a good memory, though. Granted, most of these have more to do with personality than the actual memory, but it’s still a fun illustration.

I feel betrayed if I lose something. Do you ever have moments where you go on autopilot and close the garage door or put away groceries but can’t actually remember doing it? Those moments scare me to death, especially when I lose something. I am so reliant on my ability to recall information that I freak out when there’s a blank spot or worse – a false memory. If my keys are missing but I know I hung them on the key ring when I got home, I can dramatically extrapolate that to my entire life being a lie. What else have I been misremembering? Can I ever trust myself again? Obviously this is an overreaction, and I calm down and become rational again eventually…usually after I find whatever I’m looking for.

I remember other people a lot more often than they remember me. There have been a number of times where I am meeting someone for the second or third time, and they introduce themselves as if we’ve never met. The worst times are when I can remember when and where we met and what we talked about, and after an awkward occasion or two of explaining this to someone (getting a blank stare or alarmed look in return), I usually just go with it now or offer a brief “I think we’ve met before?” It receives a much better reaction.

The vast majority of the time, I am grateful for the way my mind works and think it’s pretty cool. I love that Josh and I can have stereotypical sitcom moments where he can’t find something, and I know exactly where it is in the house. It’s convenient (and dangerous) for online shopping to have your credit card information memorized. I love remembering friends’ birthdays and anniversaries, and I cherish the fact that I can remember time spent with loved ones. As long as I have systems in place, my memory is a great tool in my skillset. It’s when you rely on it alone and don’t have a system that is can get you in trouble.

 

I Can be Bad at Weekends

The last month has been all about cleaning, packing, getting the house ready, moving, and unpacking. When I finished up my run this morning, I was met with the pleasant realization that I didn’t have to do anything today.

I am a planner and a scheduler. During college I used to tell Josh 3 months in advance what weekends I could come visit him to make sure he would keep them open. At my old job I traveled a lot, so I had to plan ahead for which races/weekends I wanted to be home. I still enjoy planning, but I often find it hard to see past a certain large event (like moving). Once that event is over, I sometimes have a rough transition period back into normalcy.

Not knowing what to do with myself this weekend reminded me of a time last year where I jokingly suggested to Josh that I needed to Google “what to do on weekends” after a long stretch of traveling. Obviously there are always things to do, and I spent today doing a mix of productive (hanging decorations, cleaning the moss off the mailbox, reading a few chapters of my book) and fun things (afternoon nap and dinner with friends).

I kept such singular focus on getting to April 15th (moving) and April 21st (selling our old house) that I ended up feeling isolated over the last month. It was certainly self-imposed. I didn’t answer or return phone calls and had far fewer interactions with my friends than I usually do. Knowing that it was my own fault didn’t assuage the loneliness, either.

Having dinner with a group of friends this evening broke the final strands of solitude. We caught up with each other while devouring various dips and countless bowls of chips, and I left with a full heart (and stomach).

Farewell to Our First Home

We sold our house today.

As far as putting your house on the market goes, we had a pretty ideal situation. The listing went live on a Thursday morning, and we had showings Thursday through Sunday (when I was out of town, so I wasn’t even inconvenienced). We got multiple offers that weekend and went under contract on Monday. Bing, bang, boom.

We lived in the house for nearly 2 years and had the unique experience of watching it go from a bunch of dirt to fully built. New construction is fun. You get to pick all the details down to the color of the grout, and if anything breaks within the first year, the builder will come fix it. Plus, everything is new and clean!

Watching the house come together (with literally no effort on our part) built a lot of great memories. Josh and I would drive to the neighborhood after church every Sunday to check out the progress. I was out of town the week most of the framing went up, and I can remember excitedly showing my co-workers the pictures Josh sent me.

 

Now we are moved into our new house, and despite my disposition toward sentimentalism, I don’t feel sad. I feel settled. And that’s a good feeling.

3 Reasons Being a Camp Counselor is Better than an Internship

I spent my college summers as a counselor at Strong Rock Camp, and I automatically think highly of someone if they have experience working at a camp on their resume. For anyone who thinks working at summer camp is just making friendship bracelets and eating smores, you couldn’t be more wrong. First of all, have you ever tried to teach a six-year-old how to make a craft? It requires patience, care, and the ability to communicate clearly.

Here are some other reasons being a camp counselor is a strong addition to your resume.

You have an incredible amount of responsibility. When parents drop their children off at your cabin, they are entrusting you with the lives of their most precious things. If that’s not heavy enough, camp life is not full of pillows and bubble wrap. There are shooting classes like riflery and archery; there are athletic classes like soccer and tumbling; and there are camp-wide games like capture the flag (we called it Sock War) that include romping through the woods.

Of course there is a nurse onsite as well as camp directors and full time staff, and counselors go through training and lesson planning for the activity classes, but everything doesn’t always go according to plan (when does it ever when there are humans involved?). Counselors have to make decisions on the fly and improvise. I can remember being a lifeguard and having to entertain the campers with a game when they had to exit the lake due to thunder (Ships and Sailors for the win).

You learn how to work with others. At camp you work with your co-counselor in your cabin and with various other counselors during classes. Communication is key! If you and your co-counselor agree on cabin rules and then you decide to be the “cool one” who lets the campers run wild well past lights out, you’ve thrown them under the bus. If you both talked about it and agree, it’s fair game. 😉

Teaching classes with other counselors with varying personalities and skill sets is also a great learning experience. You learn how to tailor your teaching style depending on who you are teaching with, what you are teaching, and who is in your class.

You learn a lot about yourself. Working at camp is not easy. You’re on call 24/7. If a camper wets the bed at 3am, you’ll need to get up and help them change their sheets. You’re likely sleep deprived, and how you respond to being tired and teaching the same classes week over week matters. The staff stays the same for the whole summer, but the campers are new every week or two. It might be your 5th time building a model rocket, but it’s the first time for a camper. Do you have the same level of patience and enthusiasm in teaching? Do you care enough about the campers’ experience and the reputation of the camp as a business to push through your fatigue? How you perform when you’re low on energy says a great deal about your character, and learning to push through to deliver your best work is a learning experience that will stick with you.

If those reasons aren’t enough, keep in mind that you’ll learn other marketable traits like learning to work a cookie down from your forehead to your mouth using only your face muscles and soda chugging. And if you’re like me, you might just meet your other half as well. 🙂

Finally, I’m not dissing internships in general. Some internship programs provide valuable work experience, including the one I ran at my previous job. But if you compare a stereotypical internship – sitting in an air conditioned office every day filing papers, fetching coffee, and waiting for 5pm – to working at a camp, being a counselor will teach you far more.

Anticipation

In both of my jobs I’ve had the ability to interview hundreds of college students and young professionals. What makes the best of the best and those I end up hiring stand out can be summed up in one word – anticipation.

If you know the name of your interviewer – Google them. Find them on the company’s staff page, read their bio, find them on LinkedIn, etc. Knowing your interviewer gives you a mental edge and can help you remain calm. It also gives you great information to ask questions at the end of your interview (and yes – you should always ask questions).

It should go without saying, but know as much as you can about the company or organization you’re interviewing with. I used to interview intern candidates who didn’t know what city our office was in! You should also know the names of the major players in the company. Our founder was on Fox News last month which generated a ton of interest in Praxis. When I talk to applicants who don’t remember his name or don’t remember the name of a staff member they had an informational call with, I’m not impressed.

If you do all your research and get the job, don’t stop anticipating! During training for my summer interns, I liked to read them the following quote:

I would tell them to only come to me with a problem if they had already thought of (and hopefully found) a solution. My favorite story of an intern exemplifying this mindset came at the very first event of summer 2015. The event was only a couple of hours away, so we all drove ourselves with a plan to arrive by noon. My photographer called me a little before then.

He explained that his car wouldn’t start that morning, so he Ubered to a car rental company and picked up a car for the weekend. He was going to be a little late due to the time it took to get the new car.

He didn’t call me when his car wouldn’t start asking what to do. He only called after he had solved the problem.

Anticipate problems. Find solutions. Solve them.

The Last 3 Days: from the Perspective of Venus

 

It’s been 2 weeks since I started blogging, and I’ve hit a rut. Nothing came to mind for what to write about tonight, so I asked Josh for suggestions. He gave a few ideas I wasn’t thrilled about, and then said to write about the move from Venus’s perspective. I love Venus more than almost anything (crazy cat lady here), so here we go.

Saturday

I was lounging about the house like a typical Caturday when the doorbell rang. I hate the doorbell! I always growl at whoever might be at the door before running upstairs to hide. In the lining of the recliner is my best hiding spot because it’s the hardest for mom and dad to get to me.

There were strange men walking around the house and making lots of noise. It was terrifying, even from the safety of the recliner. Then, all of a sudden, my hiding place was exposed! Mom and dad tried to catch me, but I hissed ferociously and ran away. I’m so much faster than them. I hid behind the tall boxes in the bedroom, but they followed me in there and trapped me. Dad carried me into the bathroom where mom had already moved all of my stuff. I clung to his shirt with my claws, but he still put me down and locked me in the bathroom.

I hate being trapped anywhere, especially if it’s not somewhere I choose to be. I’m smart, though. I know that if I reach under the door and rattle it hard enough, it will eventually open. I tried my trick, and it worked! Freedom! I escaped the bathroom and stayed hidden in the bedroom…until mom found me again. This time she shut me in my cage. I hate the cage! It’s the worst.

I was stuck in the cage for what felt like forever while there was a lot of banging and scary noises going on outside. Eventually the noises stopped, and mom came to let me out. When she opened the cage door, I just stayed inside. That’ll show her. I come out when I want.

Then mom and dad left, so I could have the house to myself in peace. I sauntered out of my cage, had a snack from my food bowl, and then decided to take my sock monkey toy out for a stroll. I exited the bathroom and immediately noticed all of my hiding places were gone. Mom and dad’s room was completely empty! Except for my napping cube…thank goodness that was still there. I was exhausted from being traumatized all morning, so I curled up for a long nap.

I awoke much later to hear mom and dad back home. Mom gave me some chin scratches, but then she and dad started making a ton of noise and moving things from the closet, so I retreated to my cage. I know I said I hate the cage, but it seemed like the best option at this time. Sh 5 minutes later when it was time to go. Mom tried to put me in the cage again, and I resisted as hard as I could! She got the better of me…this time.

Next up was a car ride. I hate car rides. You might be under the impression I hate lots of things…because it’s true. I do.

Then mom opened the cage in some strange place! I swished my tail and sniffed around some, terrified, but then found a familiar landmark. The bed! I darted under it.

I explored the upstairs a little bit, but I saved most of my activity for nighttime when mom and dad were in their bed. I jumped on all the furniture and meowed a lot. Hey – just trying to get to know my new home.

 

Sunday

When mom and dad finally got up, I decided it was time for me to take a nap. I’m pretty tired from being up all night. I did migrate to the upstairs to spend most of the day sleeping under the recliner. Mom found me and made me get up once or twice, but I slept most of the day. Like I said – I’m tired from being up all night.

Once mom and dad went to sleep again, I had so much energy! I jumped on and off the bed so many times. Mom was so rude, though. I snuggled up next to her and was making biscuits on her arm, and she had the audacity to push me away! I hissed at her to give her a warning before exiting the bed by walking across her pillow.

 

Monday

Mom stayed home all day today! I love it when it’s just mom and me at home. I rub against her legs while she’s working and get chin scratches whenever I want. The room mom spends her day in has two windows now instead of one but no windowsills! I can put my paws up on the ledge to see outside, but there’s no room for me to sit. This will not do. My grandma did buy me a window perch one time, but I refused to sit on it because I thought it was too scary. I can be pretty irrational sometimes.

I didn’t nap as much today since I am more comfortable in the new house and have been exploring more. I need 18-20 hours of sleep a day, so I guess I will sleep at the same time as mom and dad tonight. I’m sure they will miss my jumping on and off the bed, though.

 

Wonder

Taking a break from house things to write about one of my favorite bands and their new album. If you’ve never heard of the Classic Crime, I encourage you to check them out. Josh and I were Kickstarter backers for their newest album How to Be Human that comes out on April 28th so we got an early download of it.

First of all, how cool is it that 3,000 fans came together to not only make an album possible but also a summer tour? The band is Seattle-based, so it’s rare for them to come to the East Coast, and I’m pumped to see them in May! This is the definition of putting your money where your mouth is.

One of my favorite songs so far is called “Wonder.” The chorus is:

Wonder why I’ve lost my wonder
Why the ship is going under
Wonder why I’ve lost all my wonder
Why the night has got my number
Wonder why the wonder died in me

I think everyone needs to hear that message, especially adults. It reminds me of the comedian sketch where he talks about how everyone on a plane should be exclaiming how incredible it is to be speeding safely through the air instead of complaining about pretzels instead of biscoff. We live in the best time possible to be alive, and it only gets better every day.

Part of the book The Magic of Thinking Big talks about how your brain will recall whatever you ask of it– whether you want negative memories or positive ones. Recognizing your sense of wonder is a great way to avoid falling into a trap of negativity, and it’s something of which I will try to be more conscious.

Easter

Happy Easter! We got an early start to our morning thanks to Venus incessantly jumping on and off our bed this morning. Since we live so much closer to church, we were able to get a few crates unpacked before heading to the service.

The Easter service was lovely – such a great cause for celebration. I also don’t always fully comprehend the lyrics to songs when I hear them on the radio, so I learned something new when I saw them on the screen this morning.

Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You

You silenced the boast, of sin and grave

The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory

For You are raised to life again

You have no rival, You have no equal

Now and forever, Our God reigns

Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the glory

Yours is the Name, above all names

I never knew the line “the heavens are roaring,” and I LOVE it. I went to my first NFL game last year, and I can only imagine the level of excitement that heaven holds – and for something far more important than a football team. Speaking of more important things, I’ve done a fair amount of complaining on here about things that are truly first world problems when in fact I am #blessed as the kids say these days.

After church we took another trip to Home Depot to buy a vacuum cleaner and a new power cord for our dryer since the outlet is different in our new laundry room. Unfortunately we had some confusion about the cord we needed, so we left without a new one and found out the one we were looking at would have worked. Just meant another trip to Home Depot for Josh later in the afternoon!

We spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking and cleaning the old house thanks to the new vacuum. When you have a cat, it’s necessary to thoroughly vacuum your house before you sell it! We are well on our way to being fully unpacked with most of the remaining crates holding decorations and other non-necessary items.

Almost done unpacking!

The only hiccup of the day was that Josh attempted to rekey our front door while I was at the grocery store and then wasn’t able to get the deadbolt to work at all. Since our front door is only a deadbolt, this was a bit of a problem. Josh called a locksmith to see if someone could come out to rekey it for us, but no one is working on Easter! Thankfully after a few more attempts, he was able to get the lock to work, so we won’t have to worry about the door being unlockable tonight.

Tomorrow starts a new week and the last few days that we own our first house. It should be an exciting week!

Moving Day

Moving day is upon us! I started my morning off early by going to a 5k with the plan of being home by 9:30 am since the movers were set to arrive between 10 and 11 am. I left Norcross at 8:45 – plenty of time to run by the bank to get some cash and to Chick-fil-A for some breakfast since the move would take place during lunchtime. I noticed I had a missed call just before 8:30 and assumed it was the movers confirming their arrival window. I thought it was weird they called so early, but I was confident they knew the correct arrival window since I had to request a change to 10-11am due to the morning race.

Then Josh called just after 9 to let me know the movers arrived – 45 minutes early! Thank goodness Josh was home and had already taken apart our bed and gotten some of the last-minute stuff packed.

I rushed home (no time for Chick-fil-A), and the movers were already hard at work! My first priority was to make sure Josh had corralled Venus since she tends to hide in the recliner, and I didn’t want her to end up on the truck. We found her under the recliner and then chased her around our room and bathroom before finally catching her and shutting her in the bathroom. She’s a trixie little kitty and escaped the bathroom by sticking her paw under the door and rattling it open, so we had to put her in her carrier until the movers were done.

The movers made quick work of the downstairs, and the whole truck was loaded in just over 2 hours. Considering all of the furniture wrapping and strategic packing of the truck, it went by quickly. Then we released Venus to chill at the old house and set off for our new house!

I can’t believe how quickly the movers unloaded the truck! Josh and I helped a little, but we mostly told them which rooms items went in as they came off the truck. It only took about an hour to unload the truck, so we were all done in 3.5 hours. I highly recommend Atlanta Furniture Taxi to anyone looking for movers! Their price per hour for 3 movers is comparable or better than other companies that only use 2 movers.

After the movers left, it was time for LUNCH. I was well past hungry and into hanger zone, so we went straight to Heirloom BBQ where I devoured a cup of banana pudding while waiting on the rest of our to go order.

These are my crazy hanger eyes

After lunch we got to work on our bedroom to make sure we would have somewhere to sleep before we got too tired. Setting up the bed was relatively easy, so I got to work on our closet while Josh took the shop vac to the guest bedroom which is still quite dusty. We spent a few more hours cleaning and unpacking before heading back to the old house to pick up a few things we left behind as well as Venus. She was passed out in her cube when we got back, so I would say the move didn’t traumatize her too much.

Back at the new house we finished up the kitchen and our makeshift pantry. The previous owner turned the pantry into a wine cellar, so disassembling that and turning it back into a pantry is a future project.

Overall this was a very successful and limited stress moving day. It’s already beginning to feel like home!