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Kitchen organization

January 2, 2017

I have one set of open shelves in my kitchen, and they’ve been holding bowls, plates, cups and tea since we moved in. Not bad, just not exactly what I wanted.

For Christmas, I received 8 gorgeous Weck jars from my mother-in-law. They are absolutely perfect for holding bulk items, like gluten-free flours, legumes, nuts and the like, and they are sleek enough to be displayed somewhere like an open shelf in a kitchen!

This was actually quite simple. I took everything off the open shelves and out of the cabinets next to it. I decided what items I wanted in my jars (different types of rice, old-fashioned oats, potato starch, red lentils, and walnuts) and used a chalkboard marker to label them all.

After wiping down all the shelves, I also removed one from the open shelf. Though this cuts down on storage space, it makes things feel more airy and open; the jars looked squished when there were three. After a few more minor additions to the shelf, I was done!

Now that I’ve finished organizing a few kitchen shelves, I have a desire to organize every single closet and cupboard in the house. Wish me luck!

Blog life

Never say never, or, thoughts on running

August 23, 2016

This year has been a year of breaking free from the shackles of “never.” There have been many things I said I’d never do, for a variety of reasons. I never thought I’d make my own barn door, I said I’d never do an electrical DIY project, and I’ve said I’d never run more than a 5 or 10k.

Clearly, never is not my strong suit, as this past weekend I completed a half marathon (13.1 miles).

That’s right ladies and gentlemen. I, Allison, hater of running, spent almost two and a half hours on a Saturday morning running.

I never thought I’d do it.

I’m not really sure why I signed up for the race, to be honest. Sure, my triathlete-loving husband has always encouraged me to do things I have no desire to do-like run a half marathon or do a triathlon. I’ve never had trouble shooting him down before, and I’m not sure why I didn’t this time.

Maybe it’s because I’ve opened myself to new opportunities or because I wanted to work on my cardiovascular health, or maybe it was just to get him to shut up for a few weeks, I don’t know. But regardless, I signed up and started training.

The first few weeks were fine, but then life happened. Summer weekends filled up, the temperature kept rising, and soon I was missing workouts. I’d try to pick up right where I’d left off, and I’d get angry when I wasn’t running as well as I thought I should be, or when I’d get a cramp so bad I had to stop.

In my own head, I feel I have a tendency to stop about 80-90 percent to finish. I don’t feel I fully complete many of my craft projects or writing projects, and I could feel that happening with this race.

About three weeks before the race, I was ready to give up. I’d made it less than 2 miles on what was supposed to be a 6 mile run. I was frustrated and angry. I stormed in the door ready to quit. I’d wasted my summer, I hadn’t done yoga or thrown pottery in weeks, I hated running, I was never going to be able to finish the race.

But I’m so lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who support me. Keith told me I could quit if I wanted to, no one would care. But he also reminded me the previous week I had run 8 miles, farther than I’d ever run before, and what an amazing feat that was in and of itself. A friend reminded me that I could walk on race day, it didn’t matter, that finishing would be just as sweet.

But what really pushed me to finish was another dear friend who told me I was her inspiration to keep running. And to hear that from her, someone who hates running just as much as I do, tipped the scale. If I could be an inspiration to someone, especially in something I really don’t like, I had to keep going. I would see this through.

(I’d also like to point out that everyone also offered to tell me nice things if I wanted to quit. Because that’s what true friends are for!)

So I finished training, doing a 10 mile run the Monday before the race.

The day of the race was overcast and drizzly, which was actually quite perfect. I was starting with three friends, though I knew they were all faster than me. And I was okay with that.  I turned on my audio book and let the run begin.

Most of the race went by without incident. The last two miles, though, were the hardest. That’s when my knees started hurting, when I felt the end was so close but still so far. But if I walked, I knew it’d only take me longer to get to the finish line, so I kept running.

About half a mile from the finish, it hit me: I was going to finish this race. The weeks of frustration and self-anger were over. I was going to complete something I didn’t know deep down if I could do.

I had just read a post from a friend about positive self-speak, and how we lift others up, but often neglect to look inward and see our true self and love it. Now was the time to reflect on what this race meant, what this journey had given me.

I felt like I had tapped into my inner Wild. I had pushed through my dislike of running to reach my end goal, and I hadn’t let my own self-doubting stop me. I had given up so much this summer, and in return, my body had given much to me. I had succeeded. If I could accomplish this, I could accomplish anything I want to, no matter how far-fetched. I have a newfound respect for myself and my body, and am a bit more aware of the depth of my strength.

So now I need to take some time and reflect on myself, find out what it is my Wild intuition is telling me, set out on my path and go get it.

After finishing my half-marathon.

After finishing my half-marathon.

Blog life Travel

Wildbride

April 14, 2016

One month ago, I spent a weekend with three strangers. They were the most bad ass, true to self, supportive, wonderful women. I can’t put into words how much their presence moved me, their souls uplifted me.

The weekend was a Wildbride retreat, a time to be fully yourself, to feel safe being a woman and celebrating your quirks, flaws, personality. I opened up more to these women in one weekend than I have with some people I’ve known for years. There was a built in level of trust—we were all there with the intent of letting our true, wild nature emerge, knowing and supporting and being inspired by the wild nature in each other.

The words comfort and acceptance keep coming to mind when I think about my Wildbride experience, both from within and without. Bridget, Liz and Kristina created such a safe space for me to let out feelings deep within I don’t often allow myself to feel. I wasn’t judged, wasn’t looked down upon, wasn’t told how to feel or act. I felt celebrated, part of a community of women connected throughout time and space.

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I’ve never been to the desert before; Sedona was my last choice of Wildbride locations. But I have family who snowbirds from our cold Minnesota winters in Phoenix, making it the most convenient location. So I booked it.

As the plane descended, I couldn’t stop staring at the mountains. Desert and mountains just don’t belong together, in my mind. It didn’t make sense to me.

But as I drove from Phoenix to Sedona, mountains unfolded all around me. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it all was (the near 80 degrees and sunshine didn’t hurt either). I was transfixed. That drive was one of the most gorgeous drives I’ve experienced.

The retreat center was at the end of the road, a narrow dirt road full of potholes. I slowly drove in, not at all knowing what to expect. My heart began pounding as I grabbed my suitcase and walked up the steps. For so long, I had been so excited for this trip but had never been able to imagine what it would be like. I had arrived; the adventure was here.

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We took some time for reflection that first night. Sitting in the desert, the air cool and crisp, we sat together, our knees touching to form a complete circle. The stars above watched from the inky black sky as we turned inward, looking to find part of ourselves that we were ready to be rid of. I didn’t know these women yet, but we were there to support each other as we took this personal journey together.

The afternoon hike was one of the most profound experiences I’ve had in nature. It was a journey with three other women, all with their own unspoken struggles but who had risen from them, strong, radiating acceptance. It was okay to be whoever I truly am. Not just okay, but celebrated. All around, cacti grew. Even in the heat, sand and rock of the desert, life flourished. The roots of each plant run deep. These plants aren’t disturbed by surface tensions; they are strong and steady in their foundation. The symbolism wasn’t lost on me. I couldn’t help but draw parallels to my own life. Maybe the desert was exactly where I was meant to be.

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Yoga on the mountain felt like a scene from a movie. There was dust between my toes, ground under my feet, the sun warming my skin, breeze rustling my hair. It felt too good to be true; with every inhale my eyes filled with the beauty of the red mountains around us, the warrior women surrounding me, the gritty dirt keeping me grounded while my soul flowed free.

The photo location was one of the most gorgeous landscapes I’d ever seen. Layers of delicate rock forms surrounded us while the mountains opened to reveal the valley below. Liz made me feel so comfortable in every shot. Sure, some of the poses felt odd (I was laying half naked on a desert rock, after all) but it was fun! And I never expected such a powerful moment to feel so light and fun; I’d imagined it would be so serious. But it was absolutely perfect.

And at an opportune moment, I took off all my clothing. There was nothing to hide behind, it was all stripped away and I was left with my own self. It was empowering. This was me, all of me, proud of every inch of myself, inside and out. The sun on my skin warmed me and the breeze on my chest brought a new awareness of my physical self. I could feel a deep spiritual connection with women who have walked this world through all ages. Women of all shapes, sizes, color, culture; I was one of them, proud to be sharing in this bond of womanhood.

There was a primal element being naked on that mountain that seeped into my bones. It left a stain, like the ring of a coffee mug on an old table. Though the mark was made during Wildbride, it is there for others to see and witness forever.

Surrounded by beauty, I am beautiful.

I am part of nature, of all that is beautiful.

I am so small but feel so much.

I am everything I am meant to be.

In the Brave on the way back from the hike, Kristina talked about how, as humans, we brace ourselves for pain and disappointment. Then, if we avoid them, we feel fine and if we don’t, we are prepared for the hurt. But by preparing for the negative, we don’t fully feel the positive, the good things in life. We need to brace ourselves for joy so we can immerse ourselves in it when it happens. Because it will happen. Life is full of beautiful moments. That idea has stayed with me. Brace yourself for joy. Let the sun fill your body with warmth, love every part of yourself, as you are, no exceptions.

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I am strong like a desert cactus. My roots run deep, tapping into a different lifesource, a Wild lifesource. I stand strong and confident in the face of daily life, confident in the ability of my soul to thrive and live beyond the ordinary desert life.

I am a Wildbride.

Blog life Yoga

Disappointment

April 2, 2016

At this point in my life, I should know that life usually doesn’t turn out how I plan. Sometimes to get to where you need to be, you need to go through disappointments. How you deal with them says a lot about who you are.

Recently I was dealt a disappointment. I had set my sights on the easy path and was let down. Was it the best path? Probably not, but it was the easiest. It hurt when it didn’t work, it hurt badly. It took a while to recover, I will be honest. But thankfully I have an incredibly supportive partner in my husband and before the morning was over, I had the infamous Chumbawuma song on repeat [I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down].

That’s not to say it hasn’t been a struggle since then. I’ve had more letdowns since that first disappointment. None of them have hurt as badly, but I also didn’t have as much skin in the game with any of these. My thoughts have been bouncing around, rubber banding as I like to say, as I try to wrestle with waiting and disappointment.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from yoga, it’s that we’re right where we’re supposed to be. It might be uncomfortable, it might feel stagnant, but see it, honor it and respect it.

And I was fine with all of it. Until this past weekend.

Because that’s when the door of opportunity closed. This disappointment really hurt. Actually, it’s still hurting. Thankfully, it’s a bittersweet disappointment, so while it’s upsetting, at least I have the sweet part to comfort me. I know it will be okay. As my yoga instructor reminded the class multiple times this week, all is as it should be.

So here’s to today, wherever it finds you. Whether you’re up, down, sideways or somewhere in between. You are where you are supposed to be.

Blog life

Disconnecting

February 1, 2016

Social media and smart phones are great tools for keeping in touch with people. They can also be a huge time suck.

I’ve always been conscious of how much I use my phone or visit Facebook. Recently, I’ve found myself more and more reaching for my phone when I have down time. Every time I open a web browser, I immediately check Facebook. As much as I hate to admit it, these actions have become habits.

Quitting cold turkey is often an ineffective way to kick a habit, so instead of cutting everything out, I am going to work on lessening my dependence on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and my smart phone. And thankfully, I have a PIC, partner in crime, in my husband.

One thing I do enjoy about Facebook is the connectivity it allows. I have family and friends that live far away, and Facebook allows me to keep up with their lives in an effective manner. But it would be just as effective for me to check my personal Facebook once a day instead of once an hour. SO. Keith and I have committed to checking our Facebook only once a day (I am connected to a few different accounts at work, however, and need to visit the pages once a day. I will try to refrain from spending time on my personal page when checking these other pages.).

I’ve already deleted Snapchat (if you can send it in a snap, you can send it in a text) and have unfollowed a number of accounts on Instagram that only serve as advertisements of some kind.

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Keith and I have also committed to phone-free evenings. After 7pm, phones will go away. They’ll stay on in case of a phone call or text, but our goal is to cut out the mindless scrolling while sitting next to each other while not talking.

I am also going to get an alarm clock. Waking up and immediately seeing email, text and app notifications is not how I want to begin my day. I’ve started to turn off these notifications, but I’m really looking forward to moving my phone off my nightstand.

I am really interested to see if Keith or I experience any kind of withdrawal symptoms. Even though I feel I’ve been aware of my phone/social media usage and tried to keep it to a minimum, I know I’ve ramped up my connectedness lately, so am expecting to feel some kind of withdrawal.

My goal in all of this is to truly be present at every moment, to stop mindlessly flicking through social media, switching from app to app to find something to entertain my mind. I want to send more time doing what I love—reading, crafting, cooking, spending time with people I care about.

Blog life

Keeping goals

December 22, 2015

Goals have been on my mind recently. I’m sure it’s because it’s almost time to make new year’s resolutions but I also think it’s my way of combatting the winter darkness-fill my head with dreams and goals to keep busy until spring.

Keeping goals can be hit or miss for me. I have grand aspirations and always start off with a bang but I inevitably get off track somewhere in the middle and can have trouble making my way to the end.

I need something tangible where I can write down my larger goals and create measurable steps to achieve them. One of my favorite feelings is crossing things off a list, so I figure if I have multiple opportunities to cross things off on my way to reaching a goal, I may be more apt to see it through. A notebook or journal is a nice thought, but I want to try something bigger and more visible that I will see every day without effort.

With all these caveats in mind, it could have been difficult to find a system. But last night it pretty much hit me over the head: a dry erase board. But not just any dry erase board (some of them look so ugly and remind me of math class, ick) it had to fit with the repurposed vibe of my craft room. Enter an old window!

I found this window at the Rochester Habitat for Humanity ReStore a few weeks ago and have been waiting for the right project. Thankfully this one didn’t take much effort: a few picture hangers on the back, a few nails and boom, goal board.

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There are many goals waiting to make it to the board. I’m thinking I might want to pare them down since there are so many but I do love trying new things so maybe I’ll leave them.

A few of my goals for 2016 include:

  • Create one new gluten-free and vegan bread recipe every month.
  • Two to three quality blog posts a month.
    • This means I’ll have to make a content calendar and sticking to it. Post ideas include photography and recipes, which I do all the time anyway. Might as well start posting them!
  • Sew more. I know this isn’t really a measurable goal, but I want to work towards being able to sew my own clothes.
  • Write an article to submit to Orion, one of my favorite magazines.

There you have it. Hopefully writing these goals down in multiple places will help keep me accountable.

What goals have you made for next year? Do you have any tips for reaching them?

Blog life Good eats

Onesies and cookies

December 17, 2015
(Scroll through the photos for a more full look at our cookie creations.)

There’s an annual tradition I greatly cherish: onesie night and Christmas cookie baking with one of my dear friends. While we typically stretch out the festivities into two different occasions, tight schedules prohibited that this year. So last weekend, we crammed the two of them together!

The day was filled with festive mimosas (orange juice, champagne and cranberry vodka), powdered sugar, our favorite onesies and her two adorable dogs.

It’s traditions like this that constantly remind me how lucky I am to be surrounded by wonderful people. And how much I love cookies.

Blog life Yoga

Fear

November 16, 2015

Fear is a powerful emotion. It can keep us stuck, too afraid to move on or try something new. It amazes me how something intangible can have such a strong effect, can hold you back, keep you from change or progress.

And it comes in so many forms! Things I fear are not the same things you fear, and our fear manifests itself differently in everyone. For being such a broad emotion, it’s a little strange we only have one word to describe it.

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her new book Big Magic, writes wrestles with the relationship between fear and creativity. I’ve been slowly working my way through this book, and, as life is want to do, my recent yoga practice has been focused on fear as well.

In one class last week, the teacher began class with a thought: fear is an emotion. We should acknowledge its presence but don’t let it rule us.

Both the book and yoga come at the emotion of fear in a similar way—fear is real, fear is necessary, but fear shouldn’t stop you. See the fear but give it space. Let it be and don’t let it hold you back.

True life story.

My yoga classmates can do beautiful poses. I’m talking handstands, headstands, binds, crazy beautiful poses I can only dream of doing. I’ve always admired their ability but, until recently, had never tried some of the poses for myself. Why? I was afraid of falling.

In the middle of class one day, during a difficult pose, my teacher paused and offered a gentle reminder that there is nothing to fear. If you fall out of a pose, who cares?

You’ll never know if you can do it if you let the fear of falling stop you from trying.

For whatever reason, her comments struck a chord, and I tried the pose, whatever it was. And ever since then, when there is a pose I “can’t” do, I do it anyway. Even though my feet feel like they’re stuck in cement every time I contemplate trying a new pose, I try. And every time I try it again, my feet lift easier and easier. Sure, I fall out of poses all the time. But I get back into it and try again.

It feels so good every time I see my fear and to keep going. And while it’s easier to do this in yoga than, say, going to the top of the Eiffel Tower (I didn’t let my fear of heights stop me, even though I was afraid) practicing dealing with your fear in any way helps you in every other way. By facing fear in a safe place, like on your yoga mat, you can become comfortable with it. This makes it easier to face fear in other situations.

As Elizabeth Gilbert says, fear may be the passenger in the car, but no way in hell will you ever let it drive (or even read the map).

If you let it, fear will rule your life. It will keep you stagnant, never letting you dream big or reach for the stars. But it’s just an emotion, same as happiness, sadness and joy. It’s not better, it’s not worse, it just is. And we need to let it be okay to feel fear but know we need to move past it to truly continue living and life full of wonder and creativity.

Blog life

Training to run

August 31, 2015

I hate running. For those of you that know me, this should come as no surprise. Yet once a year, I find myself at the starting line of a 5k race with a dear friend for no other purpose than the fact that it’s called the Moustache Run and I absolutely love moustaches.

Usually we run a 5k. No big deal, I can get myself ready to run that in just a few weeks after running virtually zero for the rest of the year.

This year, we’ve upgraded to a 10k.

Which means I need to actually train to make sure I can run the whole distance.

Yikes.

Thankfully, there are a ton of websites and apps devoted to helping non-runners like me turn into a runner in just a few months (or weeks, depending on your starting fitness level).

A little over a week ago, I downloaded an app on my phone (I have an Android) called 10K Runner Training. I love this stupid thing! It takes you from a couch to a 10k in just 14 weeks! Thankfully, I’ve been doing enough cardio (yet another reason I adore yoga) that I was able to start on week 7. But if you need to start at week 1, fret not.

The first workout consists of a 5 minute warm up walk, then alternating 60 seconds jogging with 90 seconds walking 8 times. You repeat this 3 times during the first week before bumping up to week 2.

One of my favorite things about this app is that you only need to commit to running three times a week. Yup, just three times! I was so insanely happy that I wasn’t going to have to get up early every day or forsake my yoga practice for this race. I can totally devote 3 days to running. Especially when fall is coming and the weather is gorgeous for a jog along the river where I live.

A second app I downloaded is called Runkeeper. You start this guy when you begin your run for the day, and it tracks your distance, total time, average pace and lets you take notes about the run. For example, I did a morning run (read 6:30am) this week and it was horrible because I hadn’t eaten. So in the notes, I put: bad morning run. This way I will remember the circumstances for that day and not think there’s something wrong.

So there you have it. How even I, who hates running, can work myself up to running a little over 6 miles. All for the sake of a sweet hat and wearing a goofy moustache!

Blog life

Just start

June 26, 2015

Starting something new is both exhilarating and terrifying. There’s a deep desire, a want, to do something, but there’s also a fear of failure. What if what I want doesn’t turn out the way I want it to? What if I fail? What if I’m no good?

The internet can be a beautiful place for inspiration. Home décor blogs and fitness sites all show you what is possible and what can be done. But it can also be paralyzing—I’m not good at decorating, my home will never look like that, I’m not good at running, I’ll never be able to do a marathon.

It is overwhelming sometimes, having access to photos and testimonials of people who have/do what you want, especially when they make it seem effortless.

Instead of telling ourselves we can’t do something or aren’t good enough to do it, just start.

Don’t worry about the outcome, just start.

Because here’s the thing—if you don’t start, you’ll spend all your time wishing and dreaming instead of doing and having.

Case in point: our basement bar.

My hubby and I talked about turning the bar corner into a full-fledged bar—pallet wall, an actual bar counter, stools, the whole nine yards. When we moved into our house, we just piled all our boxes with bar stuff on the shelves and floor in the corner and left them.

Three months later, the boxes were still there, poorly hidden behind narrow curtains.

I had a plan in my head that until we could get the full bar, I would “compromise” and thrift a bar cart, make it fabulous, find two oversized arm chairs and a rug and make the place super cozy and chic. But I was daunted by all the visions of bar carts I’d seen online, like this one. I didn’t think I could make anything as cute as they were. So I held back because I wasn’t “good enough.”

Until a few weeks ago. We had company coming for the weekend and I decided enough was enough. I started. I got rid of the curtains. I moved the shelves around and I took everything out of the boxes. Within a matter of maybe two hours, I had made our bar. Was it everything we had dreamed? No. But was it a bar? Yes.

My husband loves it. I love it. Do we still want to bar cart, chairs and pallet wall? Of course. But I’m not going to let this space go to waste waiting for them.

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I think just starting can apply to almost any aspect of our lives. Do you want to do a triathlon? Stop reading all those articles and go for a run (or bike or swim). Do you want to make magazine-worthy cupcakes? Grab the flour and start baking. Do you want stunning photos to adorn your walls? Grab your camera and start snapping photos.

Too often we let our fear of not being “good enough” stop us. We all seek perfection because that’s what we’re accustomed to seeing. But perfection doesn’t exist; PhotoShop does, which makes us think perfection is real. In fact, many bloggers post about the difference between their “perfect” blog photos and how things are in real life.

My challenge for you this weekend: stop telling yourself you aren’t good enough and get started!

*This post was inspired by the Just Start stamp featured in a photo from Enjoy It and from the post Learning=Sucking by Delightfully Tacky.