Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Forward

Here's to a New Year!

I am joining in with pretty much every other blogger on the blogosphere and talking about how 2013 was for me and what I'm looking forward to in 2014!

This year was quite amazing, I have to say.  I knew when it started that it would be a good year, but had no clue how incredibly grateful I would be at the end of it that it was so good.  First of all, I got married this year!  I am lucky enough to have found a such an amazing person to spend my life with.  Matt and I have been together for (almost) seven years (in March) and finally tied the knot this past May.  It was an amazing day with our amazing friends and family.  I couldn't have asked for anything more.  

Matt and I being introduced as Mr. and Mrs. at our reception

We welcomed our niece into the world in March and then a nephew into the world in June. Our family is growing and it is so much fun to watch them as they start to make their way in this world.

About to head to Fogo De Chao in Beverly Hills on our honeymoon to California

Playing around at Morro Bay, CA

Matt and I made a big move this spring from the city we lived in for three years while I was finishing up my bachelors degree back to our home town.  It was scary and we had some big ups and downs as far as questioning our careers and future and where we would live.  We came out on the other side though, as we always do and now have a much clearer outlook on our future.

This year I also was invited back to work at the Bodie Island Lighthouse on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  This was my fifth season with the National Park Service, and after taking a summer off last year, it was so wonderful to get back to the job that I know I'm meant to do.  I met a whole crew of amazing people this year who I called only coworkers at the beginning, but they shortly became my good friends.  The one downfall that happened with my job this year is that I and my friends were affected by the government shutdown.  We were told we had no job until further notice just two weeks before we finished out our season. It was not a good way to end a great season, but we sure did have a good time spending time with each other if we couldn't go to work.  :)

Bodie Island Lighthouse - First lit October 1st 1872

Did I mention I climbed this thing 372 times this summer?  I was 28 short of 400 and would have made it had the government shutdown not occurred...

Some of my wonderful friends I met this summer

In late November, I took up running again.  It is something that I have done off and on over the years but never stuck to it and followed through.  One of the things that I am constantly working on as a person, is to follow through with the things I start.  This is not only going to be my New Years resolution, but it is a general resolution that I have been working on for quite some time.  I am proud to say that I am still running at least three times a week.  I am going to run in a 5K next Saturday, and have a long-term goal of running my first half-marathon in November of 2014.  Running is something that I enjoy doing and considering that I love food and wine so much, it's a good thing I like to do it or I would be a blimp.  ;)

As far as blogging goes, I started this blog last winter and kept up with it relatively well.  I was finding, however that I had trouble getting motivated to write posts.  I was overthinking them, I think and I really wasn't posting about things that I'm truly passionate about.  When I started posting again in early November, I decided to change my mission statement.  I decided to write about what I'm passionate about, which to be honest is a lot things.  I'm not boxing myself in to any niche in particular, which I know is the opposite of one of the cardinal rules to blogging.  (Thou shall pick an interest and write the shit out of it)  It makes me happy to talk about what I want, so that's what I'm going to do.  :D

Looking forward to next year, I would like to keep up with my running first and foremost.  It is the best and most enjoyable thing I have found to keep me in shape.  It makes me feel good about myself and my fitness.  I am looking forward to new chapters in my personal life as well as in my professional life.  I would like to continue blogging and continue working with the National Park Service.

2014 should hold some pretty interesting things for me this year and I can't wait to see what unfolds!

Yours truly, Ranger Hillary

As always, thanks for tuning in :D

Do you have any resolutions this year?

What stands out to you in 2013 as one of your best moments?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Benefits of Ignoring Your Garmin

That's Right, I Ignored My Watch Today

The past few days my knee has been giving me a little trouble.  I've always had knee issues since I was a teenager (too many horse-stances and front kicks in karate, I think).  When I straighten my leg, particularly when I'm in bed, my knee pops.  It's not really painful, but certainly noticeable.  Today I had a long run scheduled, a 5K distance.  I was telling Matt before I walked out the door for it that I would probably just do two miles and be back shortly.  I was wrong.

I decided that instead of looking at my watch every few minutes to check my pace (like I usually do), I would just run.  I took my time and ran according to how I was feeling, not how fast I wanted to be going.  I only checked my watch (covering up the pace reading) to see how far I had gone so that I knew when to turn back towards the house.  I actually felt pretty good throughout the run!  Once I got going, it was clear that I should just go ahead and do the 3.1 miles.  I thought about walking a few times, but just kept going and ended up running the entire thing.

It was a gorgeous day for running.  I wore my gloves and headband to keep warm, but ended up dropping off the gloves in a bush on the way out and dropped off my headband with them when I passed by it again (I did a loop, then a little extra to get in the last 3/4 mile).  The sun was shining and the birds were chirping.  I saw a beautiful little hawk on a telephone pole just before I got back to the house.

I turns out that ignoring my watch was a really good idea!  I ended up running the 3.1 miles in 38:17 minutes.  That's a 12:12 min/mile pace and just three minutes shy of my goal pace for my upcoming race.  For just getting back into running a month ago, I'm proud of this and the progress I have made!

What are you up to this weekend?

If you run, do you ever ignore your watch and just go by how you feel?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Happened! Woah!

Twas a Glorious Day!

It's amazing that Christmas has already come and gone!  As much as I love the holidays, Matt and I were definitely ready to move on to the spring.  This is the time of year that my brain and body goes "Okay, I'm over the cold and the silver and gold, let's move on to warm days and flowers!".  

Christmas this year was pretty different from past years.  It was full of new things and it was exciting!  Each year Matt and I spend Christmas eve with my family and wake up with them Christmas morning and then drive to his moms house to spend a few hours with his family.  Well, this year we did that but at each house there was an addition!  My sister and Matt's sister both had babies this past year, so things were a little different than usual!  And it was great!

My niece opening her very first Christmas present with her daddy!  She's got the cutest chubby cheeks.  I'll be so sad when she loses them :(

Our niece and nephews (including the newest) at Matt's moms house Christmas evening.

There were so many presents at my parents house, it was unreal!  (Many of them were for the niece, of course ;))

Matt got me new running shoes (Brooks Ravenna 5)!!  They are SO bright and pretty.  I will definitely be seen when I'm out on the road...or at least my feet will be seen!

We got some pretty neat stuff this year, including a chiminea for outdoor entertaining on chilly nights.  The best part of this Christmas for both of us was to watch our nieces and nephews open their presents.  It's funny that we're getting to that age now...it's all about the kids and their happiness and the magic of Christmas!

How was your Christmas?  

Do you have kids/nieces or nephews that make Christmas that much more magical?

What was your favorite gift this year?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Eve Eve!

The Last Few Days in Pictures

We went to my family's annual Christmas party which was held at my aunts' house this year.  She had a Christmas jungle going on in her den!  It was very festive.

Her fireplace was super cozy and quite warm!  The unfortunate thing was that it didn't feel like Christmas outside on Sunday...the temperature was in the 70s!

The ride home was rainy and dreary...

And then this happened...a car wreck that got us stuck for about 30 minutes.  I hope everyone was okay!

And then the sun came out!

I received a scarf and a mini lotion as a gift at the Christmas party and decided to see if our kitty (who shall henceforth be referred to as Gwenny...it's a shortened version of his name) if he would look good in the scarf!  He wasn't too pleased, although he did find that it smelled interesting!

I woke up to this today.  :)

Annnnnd we are finished with Christmas shopping and wrapping!  Yay!

What did you do this weekend?

Are you all finished with shopping and wrapping or do you have to scramble a bit tomorrow?

Review: Lush The Comforter Bubble Bar

I Took a Bath...and it was AWESOME.

It's been a while since I did a review of anything beauty related.  I need to change things up a bit.  I would like you to know about this amazing little bubble bar I tried out from Lush last night!  For my birthday, Matt offered to let me get on Lush's online store and order as many products as I could fit into a pre-determined budget for my birthday gift.  Lush products are something that I will buy for myself once in a blue moon because, lets be honest, they're freaking expensive!  This was a perfect gift for me, so I wouldn't feel guilty about spending so much on "frilly bath stuff".  I placed my order, grabbing a few things I know I love and making sure to throw in some new items that had good reviews!

The first one I decided to try out from my order was "The Comforter" Bubble Bar.  Lush has an array of different products, and the ones for the bath range from Bubble Bars (which by the name, you can probably guess make bubbles) to Bath Bombs (bath fizzies) to Bath Melts (which make the water silky smooth).  

The first thing I really like about this bubble bar is that it's HUGE.  The whole thing is about the size of my palm, so I knew that this is a good one to break up and use a few different times.  I was able to break off a third of it and get a pretty darn bubbly bath!  Score!

The first thing I noticed about The Comforter when I pulled it out of its packaging was the scent.  It smells JUST LIKE the shower jelly, Sweetie Pie, I bought from Lush in L.A. while Matt and I were on our honeymoon.  So immediately I knew I would love my bath because it would remind me of our honeymoon.  :)  By the way, shower jellies are so neat!  Matt described Sweetie Pie as "if soap and Jello had a baby, this would be it".  They're really, very cool.

I crumbled The Comforter under the faucet while the bath was filling up and immediately bubbles started forming and the bath turned pink!  The whole bathroom filled up with the sweet scent.  It was lovely.  The Comforter made the bath feel really smooth and silky and it smelled beautifully fragrant.  It made for an awesome bath experience.  I absolutely recommend The Comforter.  It's worth the money ($10.95), particularly if you break it up and use it in multiple baths.

Do you have any favorite Lush products?

Have you tried The Comforter?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Warm Days and Slow Runs

It Was Rather...Toasty Today...

I know, another post today?  Two posts in one day?  Who am I?  I'm not so sure.

Today the high was 66 degrees Fahrenheit.  In December.  Four days from Christmas.  WUT.

Yes, indeed it was a VERY warm December day!  And I am a self-proclaimed "I hate running when it's hot" person.  Today I discovered I am also a "I hate running when it's REMOTELY WARM" person.  I should move.  To Canada.  The Southeast is not the place for me.  :D

Needless to say, I paid for the warm weather today with my pace.  My goal was a 11:30 min/mile 2 mile run.  This is what I came up with:

Ce la vie.

At least I got to wear a tank top and shorts!

How's the weather been where you are?

Do you enjoy running when it's warm or cold outside?

Birthdays and Watches

It was my Birthday!

You may or may not know, but December 18th was my birthday!  These days birthdays are getting a little less exciting to me, I have to admit.  I turned 26 this year, which means that I am now headed towards my late 20s which means I'm getting closer to 30.  I have to say, I am really not one of those people that freaks out about age.  I've never put time constraints on anything I want to do in life, so I (hopefully) will never be disappointed if I don't accomplish something in my timeframe.  Anyway, I'm digressing.  Like always.  :)

For my birthday this year, Matt and I just hung around the house most of the day.  We've had a pretty busy few weeks and really just wanted to relax!  We also wanted to recuperate from the night before, because one of our buddies birthday is the same day as mine and it just so happened that he's 5 years younger than me...so if you do the math, you will know that he turned 21 this year!  We went out Tuesday night around 11:30 and he had his first drink at midnight!  I volunteered to drive us home, so I had one cranberry and Grey Goose (happy birthday to meeeee) at midnight and drank water until it was time to go.  We had a great time and our buddy was so happy when we left the bar!  Success!

Wednesday, as planned, we laid around the house until we decided that we were hungry, so we went out to grab a bite to eat.  We had lunch, dropped by a few stores (including the liquor store for our buddy of course) and came home to toss around the football!  We live right next-door to the high school football field, so we walked on over with the football and threw it around for about half an hour.  I couldn't believe how cold it was as the sun went down!  Brrrrr!

For dinner, we went to Outback Steakhouse with my parents.  This was my decision, as I got to choose for my birthday and Matt and I hadn't been in a very long time!  I enjoyed a Sugar Plum Martini and a steak salad!  It was delicious!

Right before dessert, my dad went "to use the restroom" and came back with a giant wrapped present, along with a smaller present and set it in front of me.  There were two cards to go with it, one from my dad and stepmom and one from my mom.  The cards my dad gets from my mom every year are very special to me.  Many people don't know this about me, but we lost my mom to cancer when I was 7 years old.  Every year, when it's a special occasion, my dad makes sure to include a card from my mom.  It's very thoughtful of him and I'm not sure that he realizes how much it means to me.

I couldn't believe what my first present was!  It was a Garmin Forerunner 110 running watch!  I had really only told Matt that I wanted one and I don't recall mentioning it to my dad.  I could have sworn that Matt must have told them what I wanted.  Come to find out, dad just kinda figured it would be a good gift.  And boy was it!  (More to come on the Garmin in future posts, don't you worry!)

My second gift was a huge art set!  It's a portable easel and carrying case, complete with oil paints, acrylic paints, brushes, pastels, coloring pencils, and graphite pencils.  It is quite amazing!  I've been wanting to pick up painting again, but didn't want to go out and get the supplies.  Now I have no excuse!  I can't wait until a nice warm day where I can sit outside and paint!

I know this was a really long post and I applaud you for reading the entire thing if you did.  My birthday this year was a fun day and I am so excited to get some good use out of my gifts!  

Did you have a good birthday this year?

What is your favorite birthday that you can remember?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Long Runs and Christmas Parties

What a Fabulous Sunday!

This holiday season, my husband and I decided that we want to be "that couple" that throws great parties and always has an annual Christmas party.  So, thus started our annual Christmas party planning!  I immediately got on Facebook and started inviting a bunch of buddies to join us!  We planned the party for Sunday (last night).  We got things together, along with our roommate and made some delicious dishes including Cuban pork, glazed ham and sugar cookies!  The party was a potluck, so our friends all brought some tasty dishes as well!

Our spread...nommmm

I also made a sparkling cosmopolitan cocktail and put it in a big jar with a dispenser from our wedding.  It was a big hit!

I made candied cranberries as a garnish which were also a big hit!

In other news, I did my long run for the week yesterday morning before we started getting ready for the party.  I decided to run a 5K distance so that I could get a baseline for how my fitness is right now in order to get ready for my race next month.  I was very pleased with the run, because I paced myself to the point that I ran the entire thing with no walk breaks!  Big deal for me!  So obviously my pace isn't where I want it to be for race day, but I have a little less than a month to train and I'm still confident that I can pull off my sub 35:00 5K.  I went ahead and wrote up a training schedule for myself on my calendar on my Macbook so that I can stay on track with pushing myself to my goal pace.

Have you been to or thrown any Christmas parties yet this holiday season?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Race Registration!

Outer Banks Running Club Frostbite 5K

I am so excited!  I just registered for my first race since my well, first race…haha!

The local running club in my area puts on member races fairly often and the next one coming up is the Frostbite 5K!  The registration price before January 1st not only discounted, but it includes a year of membership to the running club.  From what I understand, the membership gives you discounts on select races, registration to *free* impromptu races, discount at select local stores, etc.  Sounds like a pretty great deal!

I have to thank my parents for sponsoring me for this race.  Being sponsored for a race is awesome because race fees start to add up after a while if you plan to race a lot (which I plan to do this coming year).  They will also be at the race to root me on!  It was so great to have my friends and husband at my last 5K to cheer for me as I crossed the finish line. It's an amazing feeling!

I'm really looking forward to doing a race again.  I thoroughly enjoyed my first one!  So here's to a month of training.  At the moment, I'm pretty certain that I can run a 5K straight if I really pushed it, so for the next month I will be working on my general fitness and trying to clock a good time to be ready for the race!  My first 5K took me about 40 minutes, but for this one I would like to finish up under 35 minutes.  So there you have it.  My goal for the Frostbite 5K on January 11, 2014!

Let's go!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

KitchenAid Stand Mixer Refinishing Project!

We are SUPER proud of this

For quite some time, I have owned this KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  I was fortunate enough that my aunt didn't use it, so she gave it to me stepmom…who also didn't use it.  Therefore, it became mine.

The mixer is an older model of the one you can get at Bed Bath and Beyond for $450.00.  Needless to say, I made out like a bandit.  The only problem with it was, it was ugly.  It was just this plain, eggshell white that had spots where the paint had started to chip away.  The white paint was starting to yellow and it showed dirt TOO EASILY.  Now, I love when people show off their stand mixer on their kitchen counter.  I also drooled over the brightly colored ones I see at the store and wished I had a pretty mixer that I could be proud of.  Then, we had an idea.  Why don't we see if anyone has tried repainting their KitchenAid?  It seemed like an easy enough task.

Turns out, someone did.  Actually, quite a few people did!  We ended up following along with Kelsey from Little Bits of and got started on painting our own KitchenAid Stand Mixer!


Our kitty enjoyed to project too.  When we moved down to the garage for the sanding part, he pawed at the door frantically until we let him in on the fun.

My OCD husband spent a good hour on cleaning the mixer thoroughly before we even got to sanding…

Unfortunately, I was bad and forgot to document the actual sanding and painting process.  However, I will give you some insight as to how we did this.

We bought a few sanding blocks from Lowes (medium and fine grain) and went to town sanding down the mixer.  Our goal was mainly to get off the glossiness of the paint, just to get to the layer of paint that would actually hold on the new spray paint.

After sanding everything down, we removed all of the hardware that could be removed.  This included the band around the top that shows the KitchenAid logo and the speed dial.  We also removed the back cover for the motor, since we saw Kelsey do that to hers.

Next, we went to town taping.  We taped over everything that we didn't want to be painted copper with blue painters tape.  We used a plastic sandwich bag and lots of tape to cover the motor completely and seal it from the spray paint.

Then, it was painting time.  (Be sure to put down lots of paper bags or plastic to shield the floor from the spray paint…it really does get everywhere.)  We then spray painted our KitchenAid with Rustoleum Hammered Spray Paint in Copper Penny.

We sprayed on two coats according to the instructions, let it dry, then reveled in our masterpiece!


On a scale of very easy to very hard, I would rate this project as medium difficulty.  It is definitely a little time-consuming and you have to know how to sand, use a screwdriver, and have a little experience with spray painting.  It involves a little bit of thinking outside of the box, especially if you want to make sure you cover everything you want and don't cover the things you don't want to with spray paint.  My advice is just to be very tedious with your taping.  That, I found was the most important get a clean look to the job.

Have you done a project like this?  
Would you think about doing something like this?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Checking In

Long time, no blog!

Well, not too long.  Relatively…

It's been a little over a week since I've blogged.  I just got a little out of the groove.  I kept looking at my Blogger dashboard and just not wanting to write anything.  So here's an update.

I've decided to pull back from the Runner's World Holiday Running Streak.  I ran at least one mile per day for 10 days, but at the end of that 10 days I realized that my shins were starting to bother me a bit.  I have a history with shin splints and was getting the feeling they were coming back, so I decided I really need to take advantage of rest days.

My run yesterday felt good.  I got out for 30 minutes and ran 2.3 miles.  Not bad for me…I'm still trying to work up a full 5K run without walking and would like to get down to a sub-30:00 5K time within the next few months.  So, I'll just continue to chug along.

In other news, I've been eating a lot of veggie wraps lately (YUM), drinking good beer that tastes like a Yoohoo, refinishing our Kitchenaid Mixer (more on that later), and decorating for Christmas!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Power of the Green Smoothie

Delicious and SUPER Nutritious!

Happy Monday!

The husband and I are on a smoothie kick, that I know for certain.  We have been finding ourselves feeling a little more than "empty" when we don't begin our day with a smoothie.  Now, our ideas of a smoothie are a little different.  We definitely have different tastes when it comes to what we want.  For example, I am a big fan of putting a dark, leafy green in my smoothie and he is definitely not on board with that.  I had always heard of a "green smoothie" but to be honest, I thought it was a smoothie made up of strictly green fruits and vegetables.  My idea of a green smoothie was just avocado, kale and spinach.  That doesn't sound super appetizing to me.  I could probably drink it, but not enjoy it.  Now, I imagine there is a recipe out there with just those ingredients, but imagine my surprise when I learned that green smoothies are really just a normal fruit smoothie with a healthy helping of a dark, leafy green mixed in.  Tasty!

As you may very well know, I'm a huge fan of YouTube videos.  I have expanded my tastes in videos from not only beauty gurus, but also to fitness gurus.  One of my favorite recent discoveries is Bex from BexLife.comShe is full of energy in a not-so-annoying-fitness-guru kind of way.  Her workout videos on YouTube are really fun and challenging and she's got some great series' from workout challenges to nutrition and clean eating!  I came across a video she did with her friend Mike about green smoothies.   Not only did they show a tasty looking green smoothie recipe, but Mike shared the reason why these smoothies are so good for you!  When you drink a fruit smoothie, you are getting the great benefits of the vitamins and minerals in the fruits and that extra kick of energy from the fruit in the sugar.  However, the sugars in the fruits are very quickly digested in our bodies and the energy rush can wear off rather quickly.  Sugars from dark, leafy greens are digested slower in the body than fruit sugars.  By adding a green, dark, leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale, you are allowing the sugars from the smoothie as a whole to be digested more slowly, allowing a more consistent, longer lasting energy boost.

Green smoothies are now my go-to breakfast in the morning!  After my morning routine of oil-pulling (post soon to come on this subject), warm lemon water, and another glass of water, I am working on blending up a tasty green smoothie to start my day!

Tropical Blue-Green Smoothie
  • 16 oz. Silk Vanilla coconut milk
  • 1 cup frozen mixed fruit (I'm using Great Value strawberries, mangoes, peaches, and pineapple at the moment)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 apple, seeds removed
  • 1 big spoonful of vanilla Greek yogurt (I like Dannon Oikos Greek, it's not terribly expensive and doesn't taste like fake sugar)
  • 2 big handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • Enough water to loosen up the smoothie and get it to blend on the blender 
 Just blend that all up and serve!


Do you have any smoothie recipes you really enjoy?  Please share them!