{Health Goals} Signing up for the Spartan Race

We took the plunge a couple weekends ago and signed up for the Spartan Race that is coming to Austin this May.  In case you're not familiar, it is one of many mud run races where you must complete 20+ hard-core obstacles like climbing ropes, scaling walls, crawling under barbed wire... that sort of thing.  Oh yeah, and you do it all while running 8+ miles up hills of mud.

You might be able to gather by my tone that this is something of a first for me, because it is.  I've never run a race before - not even a 5k.  Needless to say, signing up for the Spartan Race was not done out of my own motivation, but out of motivation provided by our dear friends who {are in excellent shape} and are going to be coming down to visit us in May!!  I can't hardly wait to see them, but I'm not going to lie - I need to start hitting the gym.  We've already paid.  We already have a team name.  And there are already outfit ideas in the works.  It's officially official.

The other night, I was talking to my sister on the phone {she lives in the snowy state of MN}, and we had a good conversation about fitness, diet, all sorts of health related things.  We talked mainly about treating your body the way God sees it - as a temple - by fueling it with nutrients instead of quick, processed faux foods.  Even if that means taking that extra hour out of your day to prepare a meal.  It is so worth it for so many reasons.  The most important reason?  You will feel better inside, and you will stay feeling younger, longer.

Ultimately, we both agreed that the key to all of this fitness and diet stuff is to get to that place of maintenance.  That place where you've put in the hard work already, and if you go on a vacation and are out of the gym for a week, or if you go for some ice cream with friends {or Gourdough's Donuts if you live here in Austin}, you'll be perfectly fine!  It won't make a dent.  And that's where I'm working to be right now.

I have to say, training for this race is coming at the perfect time for me.  I needed something.  On any given day, I feel like I'm teetering on the edge between being fit and being... not so fit.  But I've felt pretty great these past couple weeks, and Matt and I get to spend time working toward this goal together, which is always a good thing.

The training is hard - that term is an understatement, especially when it comes to my ability to run any decent distance - but I can tell it's going to be worth it.  The race is in 14 weeks, but I'm hoping this is going to become a lifestyle that sticks - wish me luck!


Office Inspiration

A currently on-going project of mine {ughhh...are there any other kind?} is the office makeover.  As you might remember from our "before" photos I posted awhile back, our office has french doors that open right into our front entry, so it is one of the first rooms you see when you come into the house, making it one of the most important in my mind.  

And the second reason I decided to kick off our decorating with the office is because I cannot live with the current state of our office any longer.  I just can't.  Papers in stacks, Random trinkets that have no home stuffed into our once tidy desk drawers.  Cords. Everywhere.  It gives me anxiety just writing this.  For real. 

The first thing you need to know about me {beside my name + the fact that I love a good cheese plate} is that I am happiest when everything in my life is in it's proper place, whether that place is our address book, my calender, our "key drawer", or my closet shelves {a post for another day!}.  

My husband tends to think that as a designer, I would like to decorate our home with just a bunch of pretty {+ useless} things, but I really do love the challenge of making a space both beautiful as well as functional.  I really do.  And this office needs to be both of those things.  Here are a few photos I've pinned lately that have been inspiring my office makeover:

White, Navy, Gray with warm accents - my office color palette
{Image via Elle Decor on Apartment Therapy}

{Image via Houzz}

{Image via The Pretty Blog}

{Image via The Every Girl}

Pretty storage + love those gold scissors
{Image via The Every Girl}

{Image via The Every Girl}

{Image via Avery Street Design}

I love this pattern from Ikea + I've been looking for an Austin street sign like this one above the door {Image via Avery Street Design}

Yes!  I need one of these in my life!!
{Image via Remodelista}

{Image via Savor Home}

Gold + Black + Initial mug from Anthropologie
{Image via Style Caster}

{Image via Style Caster}

Love this clean, white storage + Chinese Foo Dogs.  Wish I had exposed brick in my house.  A girl can dream, I guess!
{Image via Domaine Home}

And... a Fiddle Leaf Fig - my absolute favorite indoor plant!
{Image via Emily A Clark}


A Weekend in Sulpher Springs

Although it's been a little chilly outside lately {it is only January... man, am I spoiled rotten}, this past week the sun has finally peeked through and decided to grace us with it's presence.  Sometimes I just really get the urge to go out and practice my photography skills, and this is definitely one of those times.  Unfortunately for me {and you as my readers}, my husband is on a friend-cation up in Dallas this weekend, along with our cameras.  Both of them.  So, instead, I get to show you some of my favorite photos taken awhile back on another sunny weekend that we spent up in Sulpher Springs, Texas at our friend's family ranch.

We went up to visit to help our friend with some work that needed to be done around the ranch, and by we, I mean Matt was doing the helping, and I was busy taking in the beauty of our surroundings via my camera lens.  Life on a ranch may not be for everyone, but for me, it was a quiet escape for my mind, which is never usually quiet.  Looking back through these photos really is like a breathe of fresh air for my soul, and I would love to share a few with you guys today!

Thank you for reading!  I'm glad you're here;)


{Book Review} Start by: Jon Acuff

As part of my goal to be be more consistent in 2015, I've recently decided to make an effort to sit down and finish one of the books that I had downloaded on my Kindle back in 2014.  Today, I want to share with you my thoughts on Start by Jon Acuff, a young and inspiring author who really has a natural gift for motivation.  An alternate book title could have very well been, How to be Awesome! as it literally is a step-by-step guide, with heaps of very entertaining and helpful anecdotes thrown in there, teaching you how to stand up to the fear and voices of doubt in your mind.  It teaches you how to recognize your deepest passions and turn them into what he calls, "your awesome".  Jon teaches us how to take your life from average to awesome.  I don't believe this quote was used in the book: Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life, but that is what the theme of this book reminded me of.  While Jon Acuff staunchly admits it WILL in fact be a lot of work, his book is about finding that true passion for something, that thing that makes work not really feel like work to you.

A few of my favorite quotes:

"The only thing you have to do on the average path is not die."

"Be led.  Be taught.  Remain a learner."

"Most of us never get there.  We never ask the question, 'What gives me the most joy?'... Joy is an incredible alarm clock.  It will wake you up and keep you up and pick you up and gently pull you through a thousand rejections along the way."

"You're confusing awesome with a job title.  Awesome is the core of who you are.  It's your heart, your soul, and the fabric of what makes you.  A job title is just a consequence of you living out of your awesome."

"What if you don't need the Grammys to validate your dream?  What if the real definition of awesome is as simple as 'singing more today than I did yesterday'?  With that definition, you get to succeed every time you sing...Awesome writes great books even if no one is going to read them.  Awesome sweeps the parts of store floors that no foot will ever touch.  Awesome can't help itself.  Awesome has a huge heart.  And that's what it always plays to.  The size of the crowd doesn't matter.  The applause of the audience doesn't matter.  The money you make singing doesn't matter.  Don't get me wrong; I hope you get all those things....But more than that, I hope if your definition of awesome is to sing, you do it often.  And you realize along the way that singing often is what really matters."

"You've got today, and today is all you need to start.  The rest will come into view as you go."

I loved Jon's humor and completely relate-able voice in this book, and I found myself laughing out loud almost every time I picked it up.  I also found his summarized list of "steps" at the end of the book to be a great way to review and remind myself of what I'd learned throughout the text.  I, personally, am in that exact spot in my life where this book was just what I needed to hear.  Finding that passion and drive in my life is something I'm constantly thinking about these days, and it really spoke to me - and I don't think I'm alone.  I believe so many of us have that longing for more in our lives when it comes to our careers.  This was the perfect book to start off the new year {see what I did there?}.  Love it and would recommend that anyone, of any age, pick this up as well.  There is no age limit on finding your passion and your awesome in life.

*Find It*


A {Semi} DIY: Replacing Our Back Patio Door

There are many, many things that I wanted to do as soon as we moved into our house.  I had dreams of decorating and updating fun things like light fixtures and paint and throw pillows... lots of throw pillows! However, we happened to fall in love with a house that had a rotting back patio door, so that inevitably had to be first on our list.  The original door was a white vinyl, builder's grade, french style door, and we decided to replace it with a solid wood sliding door in an espresso finish.  After what seemed like endless interviews with door and window companies, we settled on ordering our door from Jeld-wen - they seemed to have the best quality and also offered the integrated blinds between the glass that we had grown to love on our old doors.

With all of the initial expenses that come along with purchasing your first home {we didn't even own a lawn mower!}, we decided to try to do as much DIY-ing as the situation allowed.  We ordered the door unfinished {this is where the DIY part comes in}, which saved us some money, but also allowed us to stain the door the very deep espresso color that I was looking for - the darkest stain Jeld-wen offered wasn't even close to the color I wanted.  So, maybe this was less about saving money and more about me being a picky Interior Designer, no?

After separating the door from the frame, we took a fine-grit sand paper to the wood to smooth everything out.  You should be able to feel the difference when you run your hand over the areas you've sanded versus the areas you haven't yet.  A lot of wood dust is kicked up during this process, so you'll want to wait until you are 100% done with sanding before wiping all of the wood down with a damp cloth.  Taping comes next - make sure to cover up anything you don't want to stain.  Then, follow the directions on your particular can of wood stain for method of application.  I was looking for a stain that was very dark - almost black - for our door, and the only one I found that came close was this one by Minwax in the color/finish Espresso Satin.  It was actually a stain and polyurethane combo product that did both in one, meaning, the finish it gave our door was a satiny polyurethane-like finish instead of just a matte wood finish {if that makes sense}.  We weren't able to see the grain of the wood through our stain, it went on more like a coat of paint, and you didn't wipe it off after awhile like with normal stain.  I, personally, really like the look of this kind of espresso wood, but if you are looking for a more natural look with more grain to your wood, I wouldn't suggest a color this deep or using a polyurethane-stain blend.

We were instructed to use a natural bristle brush to apply the stain, but we ended up switching to a smoother, synthetic brush half-way through, because the natural bristle was shedding a lot {with its bristles getting stuck to our door - not a good look}.  I'm not going to gloss over this: applying the stain evenly, avoiding dripping and bubbles, was very, READ: VERY, difficult.  There was more than one time that we told each other "I give up!!!".   My tips for anyone attempting a project like this using a polyurethane stain: take your time...do one thin coat...after it is fully dry, lightly sand that coat and apply a second thin coat.  slowly.  Or just use regular stain.  That works, too.  I would also highly suggest testing your staining skills on a piece of scrap wood before going all out on the real thing!

After it's all said and done, we are very happy with our new door {which was professionally installed by the way - we wouldn't go that far with the DIY'ing}.  I love the quality of the door, the integrated blinds, and most of all, I love the deep espresso color that really adds some contrast to the light walls, trim and carpet in this area of the house.  Looking forward to updating the rest of the room as well!

*Find It*


My One Resolution

Each year, millions of people everywhere will make a {physical or mental} list of resolutions to improve their lives and meet their goals in the new year ahead of them.  I, being the list-maker that I am, generally fall into that category.  This year, however, I am just focusing on one: consistency.  Yep, consistency.  Whether it's a resolve to up my intake of water during the day, spend more time in the gym, set aside time to read my Bible more often, get more sleep, actually take my vitamins... it's not about adding new things to my list of resolutions this year, it's more about doing the things I have already tried to do in 2014 - with consistency.  Because the truth is, I do call my grandpa in his nursing home...sometimes.  I do turn off Facebook or YouTube videos in order to spend my time doing something more valuable with my time...occasionally.  I do take my vitamins...when I feel like it...if I remember.  I do a lot of things every once in awhile, and while they may be well intentioned, I don't believe they will ever really amount to anything extraordinary.  But add a little consistency to that equation, and it's a game changer.  I don't want to waste my time in 2015 doing things without any results - I want to see real changes in all different areas of my life this year.  Consistency.  Wish me luck!