30 Days Later

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Wow… It’s simultaneously hard and not hard at all to believe I last wrote a month ago. And has it ever been a crazy 30 days! While I was on my blog hiatus, the following events transpired:

Switching from one unit in the hospital to another October 7
Finding my wedding dress (!!!) October 10
The one-year countdown ’til The Big Day October 11
The fourth anniversary of meeting my fiance, Ian, October 17
Buying my wedding dress October 18
Our first engagement party (wedding party meet-and-greet) October 19
The first anniversary of this little old blog October 25
Ian and me beginning our wedding registry November 2
And Ian and me celebrating our fourth anniversary (ten days early) November 2

So, yeah… I missed blogging about quite a few important events. But to be honest, some days I was too exhausted or too preoccupied to even remember to post. Some days, I thought about posting, and I felt relieved that I had an “out” of sorts. To be honest it was nice to keep some private, emotional moments to myself or among family, such as purchasing my wedding gown. Even if I had posted about some of these events, it’s not like I could’ve shared photos with you.

I never meant for blogging to overwhelm me or become a nuisance; I began blogging because I genuinely love writing and sharing my journey publicly. I know with certainty that I needed this time to do some soul-searching about whether SWASOV was something I wanted to continue right now.

Here’s what I have decided to do:
For the time being, it doesn’t appear that being a daily poster — which is still one of my greatest aspirations — will come to fruition. But on the flip side, I always feel this sense of obligation to post some apology or excuse for not having posted if I go more than 2 days away from the blog. In the future, I plan to post when I can; if that means every day for a week and then not at all for 5 days, I’m going to stop fretting about being a “regular” poster. Among the blogs I read on a regular basis, each blogger posts when she can, not necessarily on a set schedule. All that being said, I have a number of topics I am *planning* to write about in the near future — like the “results” and what I learned from my October Strength & Selfies Challenge!

I love my little space in the blogosphere, and I truly appreciate all three of you (haha) who are out there, reading my mumbo-jumbo. I’ve just decided that life is too important and too short to try to post every single move I make. This past month, I experienced the joy of truly living in each moment instead of trying to conceptualize when and how I would blog about it.

If you’d like to keep up with me on a daily-ish basis, you can find me on Instagram (annekendall) or Twitter (@girl_emerging).

Thanks for sticking around during my absence, and I hope you’ll continue to read in the future! ;-)

Extra! Extra!

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Best of evenings to you, blends! I have some news for you tonight, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag…

After giving it serious time and consideration, I have decided to take a hiatus from Sarcasm for the month of October. You’ll still be able to find me on Twitter (@girl_emerging) and Instagram (@annekendall), but I won’t be around these parts again until November One.

Everything is okay, I promise. There is just a lot going on in my life right now, particularly with regard to my schoolwork and my internship. Blogging has begun to feel more like a burden than a pleasure, and that is something I want to nip in the bud right away. For nearly two years now, I have absolutely L.O.V.E.D. blogging and sharing my life, my fitness and weight-loss journey, my anecdotes and shameless photos, and my healthy-living saga. I used to feel that I had nothing but time, and yet serious writer’s block; these days, time is a valuable commodity and I have so much I want to write about. I don’t want blogging or this little niche in the blogosphere to become something I feel obligated to do as opposed to something I genuinely look forward to doing.

That being said, this month off is exactly what I need. This decision wasn’t made lightly, but several critical factors played a major part. First, I’ve grown weary of beginning every post with some variation of “Sorry it’s been so long, but…” and playing catch-up. I have always aspired to be an avid daily blogger, but I’m not getting any closer to that goal by blogging in a way that feels forced. Second, I am experiencing more stress at this juncture in my grad school career than I have in the past two years. I know where my priorities lie, and I am committed to being the best counselor-in-training I can be. Which leads me to point numero tres: me-time. Mental health and well-being requires that I know myself well enough to know when I need to cut back on the things that are not truly vital. I hate to admit that blogging is not one of those things, but just for the next 30 days or so, it needs to take a back-burner while I get through the busiest part of the semester.

I do still plan to take part in my October self-challenge, Strength and Selfies. I must admit that recently I’ve only been interested in cardio and today I skipped the gym altogether… but a future-forward effort will be made nonetheless! I anticipate having lots to share with you when I’m back!

Thanks in advance for understanding! Catch me on social media, otherwise I’ll see ya next month! ;-)

P.S. I’ll miss the first anniversary of the new site while I’m “away,” so here’s a premature HAPPY BIRTHDAY(!!) to Sarcasm with a Side of Veggies!

Strength & Selfies

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“Hey there, ho there, how do ya do…”

Okay, sorry, I just accidentally channeled my inner Lana (Mandy Moore) from The Princess Diaries.

I wish I had more than a few minutes to stay and play, especially given that I have blogged a very sad number of times this month, but I am positively swamped. I’m putting in 20-25 hours per week at my Internship site — which I am absolutely loving — plus I have more than a lot going on classwork-wise. That’s all I’ll say so as not to go on a stress-induced rant… Besides, sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging. Sorry I’m not sorry that I don’t have the mental or physical dedication to get up an hour early just to make sure I post something daily. As much as I love blogging and I genuinely appreciate the feedback I receive, I don’t anticipate receiving this year’s Hardcore Extreme Blogger Award.

Tonight I want to talk about my two self-challenges for October (y’all know I love a good challenge ;-)) — strength and selfies.

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My first self-challenge is to complete three days of strength-training for every one cardio workout. Whether that be yoga, weight-lifting, intensive stretching, or what have you, I am determined to fit more strength-training into my workouts. I’m not seeing the muscle tone or definition results I’d like, and my weight loss has all but stagnated. I’m not gaining weight, but I’m certainly not losing it, either. I’m hoping to take progress pictures to remind myself of how far I’ve come and of the gradual progress I’m making toward the fit woman I aspire to be! I haven’t decided yet whether these will grace the blog. I’m not one of those brave souls out there who can bare all via Instagram for the sake of comparison. More power to ya, but my tummy ain’t makin’ the front page anytime soon!

My second challenge is to take more pictures of myself! This does not literally mean the blog will suddenly be full of selfies, but… Well, I do live alone… So yeah, that’s probably exactly what it’ll mean! In looking through my iPhone recently, I have found that about ninety percent of the photos I take are of food, food prep, grocery-shopping, adult beverages, wedding dresses… basically anything and everything except myself. I realized that what makes me enjoy other bloggers’ sites so much is their photos of them actually doing the things they’re blogging about. This is something I’d like to beef up, too.

That said, I’m off and running! No rest for the weak and weary, is there? ;-)

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Thanks for stopping by!

Inside a Type-A Fridge

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Today’s post is one I’ve been wanting to write for awhile now. I’m not sure why, other than my odd fascination with other bloggers’ inside-the-fridge pictures. I feel like I’m exposing the most intimate part of my home to you, but that’s probably because I’m so very… Type-A.

My refrigerator must be organized impeccably — not for presentation, not for guests, not for ease of use, but for the sake of organization. It’s okay if things get rearranged to make room for new items or to consolidate, but generally I abide by the “a place for everything and everything in its place” rule.

I took photos on several different days over the past two weeks to give myself, primarily, a look at how the composition of the fridge changes almost on a daily basis depending on what I need, what is in abundance, special items (i.e. desserts my mom insists I bring back from Richmond), leftovers, etc.

I think this post is best expressed without much narrative, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. I tried to get creative with editing by adding arrows and captions in funky fonts, but I just ended up reminding myself why I’m in grad school for counseling and not graphic design ;-)

Oh, and my apologies in advance for the poor lighting; I was relying on the overhead fluorescent in my kitchen and the measly bulbs inside the fridge.

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And there you have it! The pride of my home, my fridge, from all angles :-)

Disclaimer: These photos were taken to accurately depict what my fridge looks like day-to-day. I didn’t go to any great lengths to buy special foods, organize differently, make “healthy” foods more prominent, etc. In fact, most of the pictures were snapped on a whim simply when I remembered to take them. After all, what would be the point of this post if the photos weren’t candid?

Just out of curiosity, how do you feel when others get a peek inside your fridge? How do you feel when you look inside someone else’s fridge? On-the-spot? Proud? Making mental memos? Embarrassed? Indifferent? Let’s chat!

Recipe Borrowing: “Lara Balls” & Kodiak Cakes

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I like to pat myself on the back for expanding my recipe repertoire (i.e. the meals I can comfortably fix for myself or for Ian and me), but I can’t take credit for devising many of them. Yesterday, I made Brittany’s healthy homemade Lara balls, and this morning I made Kodiak Cakes for Ian’s and my breakfast, idea courtesy of Courtney. Even though I won’t take credit for the ideas, I’ll still show you how I emulated what these fabulous ladies do. First up: Lara balls!

During Ian’s and my adventure at Fresh Market yesterday, I picked up the supplies for both the Lara balls and the Kodiak Cakes.

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First, I pulsed about one cup of whole, raw cashews in my food processor until they were thoroughly chopped.

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Then, I added about 2 cups of whole, pitted dates and about 3 tbsp of natural peanut butter and pulsed until the mixture was wholly chopped.

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I kept having to add PB because the mixture wouldn’t form into shapeable “balls” without more adhesive. When I was finally satisfied with the consistency, I formed the mixture into about 20 bite-sized balls and refrigerated them.

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Ian declared them “very rich,” but I have yet to try them. I sent him home with six of them. I am excited to have ready-made dessert or snacks for the next week or so! I love the idea of such a simple “recipe” with so few ingredients. As you all know, I’m all about easy and simple! ;-)

Now for Kodiak Cakes! I had read about this flapjack/waffle mix on Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life multiple times, so I Googled where to find the mix in Virginia. I was ecstatic when I saw that the primary store that carries this product is Fresh Market. Helloooo, perfect Saturday! Sure enough, there it was, amidst the Bisquick and Krusteaz. (Is it just me, or is Krusteaz a gross name for pancake mix…?) Now, it’s amidst things in my pantry.

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As you can see from the directions, pancake prep is quite simple — perfect for busy mornings around here. The ingredient list is also quite impressive!

I added one cup of Cake mix with about three-quarters of a cup of water for thicker pancakes.

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And just like that, the mix is ready to be poured onto a hot griddle/skillet.

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“Kodiak Cakes are part of this balanced breakfast!”

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Ian and I both declared this “recipe” a keeper! The mix took less than a minute to whip up, and the pancakes cooked so quickly. We agreed that the whole grain ingredients are definitely noticeable in the taste, but it’s not an unpleasant taste. I can see myself whipping up batches of these mini-cakes on chilly mornings and enjoying them on my porch with a cup of hazelnut. Mmmmm!

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this weekend in terms of “new” recipes. For faster picture updates on what I’m eating, feel free to check me out on Instagram — @annekendall.

I hope you have a sunny Sunday, and a great upcoming week! :-)

P.S. Have you ever tried Kodiak Cakes (or another variety of whole-ingredient pancake mix)? Either way, what’s your favorite topping or mix-in for pancakes? Mine is a toss-up between blueberries and pecans!

Fresh Market: A Whole New World

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Today was the day, folks. The day for which I have been waiting for more than six months. The day which made me semi-envy those who were standing in line to be among the first to behold the wonder on September 11th. The day I was so grateful for a small surplus in my budget so I could indulge in a few “splurge” purchases. The day that Ian and I went to Fresh Market.

Fresh Market has revolutionized this side of town like I’ve never seen. Where I live in the ‘Burg, people do the bulk of their grocery shopping at Kroger. I thought the massive renovations “my” Kroger has been undergoing made people crazy… until I saw little old ladies ramming people’s hips with their carts, yoga-pants-clad undergrads intently forcing their way through the aisles, and small children wide-eyed and clutching large bags of candy corn.

I knew we were crazy for attempting our exploratory shopping trip on the first Saturday FM was open after just three days of business, but we set out anyway. I had my list in hand (chia Kombucha Synergies, natural PB, pitted dates, raw cashews, and Kodiak Cakes) and my budget in mind ($25 — ha!). We got a ridiculously close parking spot and forged our way inside amidst the throngs of FM-goers.

I was simultaneously in heaven on earth and overwhelmed. There were several hundred people buzzing around the store, most of them having parked their carts directly in front of the busiest sections of the store. Go figure. No matter — we were both so excited to see what the area’s newest hotspot had to offer that we somehow remained friendly and optimistic the entire time.

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Ian readily agreed to be the basket-holder (as long as he didn’t have to hold my purse ;-)) so I could browse. I can’t even count the number of times something caught my eye and I said, “Oh, wow!” You probably would’ve enjoyed my facial expressions if you could’ve seen me marvel over the bulk bins of wasabi trail mix, the frozen kefir, the bright organic produce, the fragrant seasonal coffees, and the sample stations.

Ian *needed* to be back home by 3:30 for the A&M vs. Alabama game, so we were on a slight schedule. As a consolation prize for myself, I decided to treat us to lunch from FM. He picked up a wrap from the deli, and I had a custom-made deli sandwich. With the exception of lunch and a Clif sport energy packet to try, I stuck pretty closely to my list:

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FM total: $34.91

We made a quick pit stop at Kroger for the natural PB (I’m sorry, but $9 for a jar of PB at Fresh Market is just not my style) and syrup for the pancakes. I said to Ian, “Would you be offended if I got agave nectar instead of syrup?” and he immediately said, “…yes!” He makes me laugh ;-)

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Kroger total: $6.44

I would have liked to spend all day more time in Fresh Market today, but it was a madhouse and things were getting a wee bit claustrophobic. We hung in there with the chaos for over an hour, but we were both getting pretty hungry, and I was still, ahem, recovering from last night’s festivities with one of our favorite couples. We got our goodies to go, popped by Krogs for the final two items, and settled in for an afternoon of football at home.

I am beyond excited to make Kodiak Cakes tomorrow morning before Ian heads back to Richmond, and to make Brittany’s homemade Lara balls this afternoon! I also can’t wait to go back to Fresh Market and explore further, perhaps during the week in the morning when it will (hopefully) be less crowded. Lots of exciting stuff coming your way, so stay tuned!

P.S. Do you have a favorite grocery store that just gets you really excited about food? Or am I that crazy blogger who professes her love for grocery shopping, completely oblivious to everybody else’s groans…? Let’s chat!

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

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Maybe this makes me an extreme nerd or a yuppie foodie, but one of my favorite activities of late is meal-planning!

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I’m so serious.

I look for time during the week when I can sit down to plan my Thursday grocery shopping trip and my meals for the week. Meal prep ahead of time not only saves me time and energy when I come home exhausted from Internship, it prevents me from making lazy meal choices (i.e. canned soup) when I’m ravenous after the gym. For example, the other night I was feeling extra productive, so I sliced and diced the veggies to marinate overnight that I knew I’d need for the following night’s stir fry dinner. When I came home later than expected the next afternoon and grudgingly still went to the gym, my growling tummy was beyond grateful that I had felt so in the mood for meal prep earlier! All I had to do was cook some brown rice, saute the veggies and presto: dinner.

This week, I’ve been feeling particularly excited about meal-planning, especially with Fresh Market opening so close to school! Yesterday morning was the grand opening, and people were shoving queuing at the unholy hour of 7:55. Uhhh… no thank you!

Anyway, today I made my weekly trip to Kroger for staples, armed with my meal plan for the week and my grocery list. I am usually pretty good about sticking to my list and keeping “splurge” buys to a minimum. So, without further ado:

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Beverages: La Croix sparkling water ($4.49), lemonade mix — per Ian’s request ($1.89), O.N.E. coconut water — impulse buy ($2.99), Vita coconut water — impulse buy ($2.00), and organic milk ($3.69)

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Dairy: Chobani Greek yogurt and Chobani Flips (3/$4.00)… I misread the price tag and thought they were 10/$8.00

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Produce: bananas ($1.24), shredded lettuce ($2.99), seedless red grapes ($1.55), organic celery ($1.69), pomegranate ($2.49), cucumber ($0.75), green pepper ($0.77), Fuji apples ($3.29)

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Random: much-needed [and on-sale] highlighters ($1.29), brown rice ($2.49), organic seedless raisins ($3.49), Truvia natural sweetener ($3.99)

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Grand total: $55.83

I’m all set for the week with breakfast items I already had, fresh fruit for snacks and sides, meals for Ian’s visit this weekend, and five dinners! I’m still planning to drag bring Ian with me to Fresh Market on Saturday to explore, but I fully plan to have a list in my hand and a spending cap in my head. That place makes me giddy!

Now, on to equally as exciting stuff: I spent a little time playing around in the kitchen this afternoon, and I devised my own recipe for quick and easy Waldorf salad. I’m more than happy to share!

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Homemade Waldorf Salad
1 stalk celery
1 C plain Chobani Greek yogurt
handful of raisins
2-3 handfuls of red grapes
half of large Fuji apple
1/4 C whole almonds

Slice the celery, grapes, and apple into bite-sized pieces. Mix all solid ingredients together, then add yogurt. Stir until yogurt coats all ingredients evenly. Refrigerate for up to 5 days. Bon appetit!

Well, blends, I’m off to prep for a double-dose of class tonight. Have an excellent evening!

Stay tuned this weekend for a peek inside my OCD fridge, as well as my exploits at FM! ;-)

P.S. I’d love to hear about YOUR meal prep and/or meal-planning! Do you measure portions out precisely? How far in advance do you cut perishable items? Do you cater your grocery shopping to portable foods for on-the-go? Let’s chat! :-)