Category Archives: Being Healthy Creatures

Pulp of lime, Red Vines and good conversation …

Despite the craziness of life, Audi and I recently made a point to get together to catch up. We threw out tons of ideas … lunch, shopping, crafting, cooking, etc.. All fun ideas – but being our usual, indecisive selves – we couldn’t make up our mind. So, we met up for lunch and then sat on my front porch doing absolutely nothing but talking and sipping on a frozen, nonalcoholic (for our pregnant friend), strawberry/lime beverage. The drink was delicious and the conversation was spectacular. We seriously could have sat there until the wee hours of the morning…

I confirmed three key things that day …

1. Don’t be afraid to be a kid.
Of course, there is always the right time and place for such a thing. All and all, don’t be afraid to act silly or get so caught up or worried about what others may think/say about you. Enjoy the simple things in life – playing in the rain, swinging on the swings or whatever else wakes your inner child.  After picking up a package of our favorite licorice, we couldn’t help but relive our childhood silliness by using a Red Vine as a straw. Note: You can sip a frozen beverage through a Red Vine, but it gets hard, fast.

2. You learn something new every day.
I’ve used lime JUICE in plenty of recipes – even lime zest, but never just the pulp. Call us amateurs, but we didn’t know what the heck we were doing. In our defense, it didn’t help the recipe was pretty vague. Thankfully, after some help from our friend Google, we now know how to remove the pulp from lime the proper way. To save you the hassle, here’s a more detailed link to the strawberry/lime drink recipe as well. Before jumping in, make sure you read the “Notes from Kitchen” on the bottom of the page … our batch was pretty tart as well. We’d recommend tweaking the recipe slightly … especially for kids!

3. Getting together doesn’t just happen…
…especially with family, kids, work, community and other commitments. Everyone is busy… crazy busy in fact. But don’t use that as an excuse to put off visiting with an old friend or family. Trust me, I’m fully aware I’m guilty of this too. Ultimately, we all need to make an effort to keep in touch, take time to laugh, and do a better job of balancing our lives between work, family, friends, etc.

Given the 4th of July is right around the corner, I’ll sum up my thoughts with this wonderful quote …

Laughter is the fireworks of the soul.

Hope everyone has an enjoyable and safe Independence Day!

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Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone …

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Hello friends! As Audra mentioned, we’re back! It was a crazy spring for me with all my preparation for and then actually being out the country for five weeks, but I’m back and finally settled into my usual routine again. There’s definitely no place like home – and having a steady schedule and routine again feels good.


To put it simply, my time Down Under was absolutely amazing. The Rotary Group Study Exchange to Australia I participated in was a spectacular opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone personally and professionally. I didn’t know who I was going to meet, where I was going to go, what I would learn, what I would miss back home, etc. etc. I had to let go of the steering wheel and go with the flow. Initially, I thought it would be fairly easy and I’d have no issues whatsoever. I was wrong, but that’s okay. The payoff for the mix of sadness, sickness, exhaustion, excitement, anxiety, laughter, sometimes awkward moments, and sleepless nights was worth it. I’m now more confident in all facets of my life. Work life is great – I’ve been able to apply so much of my experiences vocationally and culturally into my daily design doings. Personally, things are spectacular too. While my time away from my hubby wasn’t needed, it sparked another level of appreciation and love for one another.

Ultimately, I’ve been inspired in so many ways…

  • to travel and see/do even more new things (next time with my husband)
  • to speak and present more confidently
  • to be even more globally in-tune with news, events, issues and more
  • to give back more to my family, friends, colleagues and community
  • to take a chance … especially if I’m nervous or afraid

I love the fact that I have developed so many wonderful professional connections and life-long personal relationships and friends on the other side of the world.

All that being shared, I challenge each of you to take a step – however big or small you can manage – outside of your comfort zone. I’m not suggesting everyone needs to skip town for 5 weeks and head to Australia by any means (although its a beautiful country). Just make an attempt to mix things up a bit. Take a chance. The reward(s) will be worth it in the end.

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A healthy & affordable snack: (self) roasted almonds

It seems that every couple weeks my husband and I have a chat about eating healthier … but every week the same crummy snack foods end up on the grocery list – doritos for me (cool ranch are my weakness) and cookies & other sweets for my other half. Now, it’s not as bad as it sounds… I buy the carrots, apples and other healthy stuff, but the crap food is usually the first to go. And when I do spend the dime on healthy options, like berries and nuts (which I’d personally prefer to eat over that crap food), it’s gone in the first 2 days and I’ve spent 2-3 times as much.

A small step in the right direction…
After my hubbies frugal but smart suggestion, I’ve recently started to purchase raw almonds and roast them myself. The bags of raw almonds are still a bit pricey, but they are cheaper and healthier than the other roasted nut options the stores offer as I don’t coat them in sugar or salt.

It’s a simple as this…
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the almonds flat on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Roast for 8-10 mins.
Allow to cool and store.

A HUGE lesson learned to share here is that the oils in the almonds continue to cook the nut for a while after removing from the oven. I’ve made the mistake of tasting upon removal – thinking they were still too chewy and throwing them back in the oven. The result if you aren’t patient … burnt almonds.

The result if you are patient … a crunchy, delicious, affordable and convenient snack for at home, on the road or at work.

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Managing Stress

Keep Calm and Drink Wine

Could not say it any better!

Today was just one of those days – a day full of the big, bad S word… stress!

Between work deadlines, personal to-dos, family strains, and just all around anxiety, I had had more than enough. And let me tell ya, the fact that I’m jumping on a plane in a week, and will be out of the country for five weeks doesn’t help matters either. (Don’t get me wrong… I’m excited for the trip. There is just sooooo much to do and not enough time to do it.)

I finally realized I’d reached my boiling point while running errands after work. Stuck in an annoying amount of traffic, I found myself letting out all my frustration by hollering as loud as I could by myself in my car. Unfortunately, it was only a temporary release … I still found myself in dire need of relief.

I then strained (and struggled) to recall an article I had read just days prior while sitting back in a stylist chair treating myself to a much needed cut and color. It was an article about stress relief – which I royally suck at. I don’t work out or get massages, instead, I pile more on my plate, hold it all in and pretend everything is okay. Well, wait… it’s not all that bad. Deep breaths and lots (I mean LOTS) of sighing help to a certain extent. I also enjoy some great laughs with my hubby and make sure to take refreshing walks with the pup every morning. But, it’s not always enough. So, while I sip my wine (wine makes it all better, right?), lets revisit the 16 lovely tips Allure magazine* has pulled together. Maybe there is something beneficial we could all strut away with …

1. Hypnotize yourself.
And no, not the “swaying pocket watches and deep trances…” They suggest simply closing your eyes, focusing on your breath and visualizing something pleasant. Brings to mind a site I need to use more often –

2. (Really) forgive someone.
Sounds like a great idea… definitely one of those “easier said than done” statements.

3. Open the window.
Nothing beats deep breaths of fresh air.

4. Send yourself flowers.
While I may not “send” myself flowers, I’ll definitely take a second look at the bouquets of flowers next time I’m zipping through the grocery store.

5. Pucker up.
“A kiss (or two) a day can keep the stress away.” Kissing helps alleviate any feelings of loneliness and releases helpful endorphins.

6. Take a time-out.
A simple minute or two break to again do nothing can do wonders. Too bad we didn’t realize how valuable those time-outs were growing up.

7. Take it easy.
Work out, but don’t push yourself too hard. According to Allure experts, a moderate to light workout will be more mentally beneficial than an intense one.

8. Say “OM”
Yoga! And yes, I’m all for introducing yoga mats into our office decor.

9. Go into the light.
Oh, sunshine, how I love you.

10.Watch a tearjerker.
Only if the hubby lets me have the remote…

11.Treat your allergies
Makes sense to me… irritating allergy symptoms = increased stress levels

12.Drop an f-bomb.
Unfortunately, no problems in that department.

13. Get busy.
Get off the couch or the computer and stop dwelling on the inevitable or uncontrollable. Do something – anything – to get your mind off all those things causing you stress.

14. Surround yourself with beauty.
Look at pretty pictures – or in my opinion even better yet, do something that makes YOU feel pretty!

15. Be a pescatarian. (one whose diet includes fish but no meat)
I don’t think I could swing being a full pescatarian, but the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are enough to encourage me to reconsider my entree order or home menu for the week.

16. Play a video game.
The key here is that they be nonviolent video games … probably not an issue for most of us. Who knew I’d be able to justify downloading more ridiculous games on my smartphone.

Well, that wraps it up folks. I know I’ve found this beneficial. What about you? Are there any other tips or tricks you’ve found that work? If so, please share. I’d love to hear them and give them a shot!

*The 16 tips outlined above are from Allure Magazine’s article, 16 Ways to De-stress.

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The Power of a Written Thank You

The bulletin board in question... a.k.a. The "Make Audra Smile" Board

I have always been a big fan of sending written thank you notes to people.  But I’ll be real honest, there are many times that I have the best of intentions and never get around to it… but hey, as many would say, “It is the thought that counts, right?”

That being said, when I do send them, I imagine the recipient receiving this envelope, opening it, reading it and it just making their day and them keeping it forever and ever and ever (ok, not really forever…).  When in reality, they probably read it and throw it away… but as I’ve mentioned I am a total dreamer

and imagine this amazing head-over-heels response.  I suppose I should say that the reaction described above is usually my response… my bulletin board full of thank you notes is proof.

This blog post was triggered by an email thank you I received the other day.  It was short and sweet but it was first thing I read that morning and it started my day off on an amazing note. It meant someone took the time to acknowledge and thank me – someone took time FOR ME.

And yes, I keep all my email thank you notes as well.  Crazy, but true.  We all have those days – days where you feel like the scum on the bottom of someone’s shoe and you just need something or someone to remind you that you aren’t that piece of scum that you feel like – hence why I keep these kind comments readily available.

A written thank you has the power to turn someone’s day around, to remind them what they are capable of, to help them when they are doubting themselves, to let them know that they are truly appreciated… hell, just to make them smile.  And that is reason enough for me.

Sometimes it can be hard to think of something to write – but don’t over think it. Even something as simple & direct as “I just wanted to let you know that I appreciated (insert kind gesture here)” can go a long way.

Never underestimate the power of a thank you – especially a written one.

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Workout Motivation … Anything Goes!

I get up and workout at 5a every morning during the week and workout either one or both weekend days…so basically I keep a standing date with my treadmill six to seven days a week.  It is a date I never get sick of.  Some may think I am crazy but there is something about getting up and sweating every day that just seems to cleanse the mind.

That all being said, let’s get down to the three real truths… I work out so I can eat whatever I want, easily slide into my favorite clothes and watch all my junk reality television.  It is a win – win for all parties involved: I sweat, I keep myself healthy, I feel great, my clothes fit and I can help the networks get ratings for their reality tv shows.

My point to this is that we all need motivation to get our tushes moving.  I have many motivations that I tap into:
– Reminding myself how great I feel after I work out and have had a good sweat (gross, but true)
– Reminding myself how I ate a whole Culver’s fish fry with french fries, cheese curds plus tapped into my extra gluttonous side and made some room for custard the day before…
– Reminding myself that there was a new episode of The Biggest Loser, Teen Mom, Project Runway, Survivor, (insert reality show here) on the night before and waiting for me on my DVR.

It doesn’t matter what gets you moving, the point is that you moved and did something good for yourself.  I know it is hard for people with many obligations and packed schedules to make the time to work out… but in the end you aren’t only making yourself healthier physically, you are making yourself healthier mentally and that benefits everyone around you.

What gets you moving and excited to work out?  How do you make it fit into your schedule?

Which Dwarf Are You Going To Be Today?

I'll be Happy... with a side of Sleepy.

First off, since we are still getting to know one another… I think I should tell you that I am a bit of a Disney fanatic (which I am sure there will be another blog post about in the future).  I tell you this because you will likely see additional references in my future posts to Disney, so consider yourself warned!

Now onto why we are all here…

On New Year’s Eve I was having breakfast with my mom and step dad.  As I was waiting for them to arrive, I overheard an interaction in the booth next to us.  The basic jist of it was this…

In the booth there was a gentleman and a woman, the waitress was serving them their orders.  She came out with sausage links.  The gentleman said he ordered sausage patties.  The waitress said, “We don’t have sausage patties.”  He replied (in a very harsh tone), “You SAID sausage patties [referring to when she listed off the side meat options].”  And he continued to lay into this waitress over sausage patties vs sausage links.  (Note: We had this same waitress and she was by no means a bad or incompetent waitress.)

It is New Year’s Eve on a beautiful Saturday morning, you woke up, you are breathing and you are laying into this young waitress over sausage patties vs sausage links?  Really?!  Granted, I don’t know what is going on in this man’s life – he could have just received a bad diagnosis about his health, could have received bad news about a family member – but this waitress doesn’t know what is going on in his life either.  She just knows that she is being laid into about what form of sausage she is serving.

I was sitting there watching this interaction and I felt truly bad for this man.  I couldn’t imagine being that grumpy and getting all wrapped about something as minor as sausage.

We all have days that aren’t the best, but we also need to remember that total strangers don’t know what is going on in our lives, our heads or our hearts.  They just think you are cranky, mean or socially inept.

So, when you wake up, ask yourself, “which dwarf are you going to be today?”  You can be Happy (my first choice), Bashful, Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy… Just remember that whichever one you choose, no one knows but you.  Strangers, customers, wait staff or whomever you come across in your daily life don’t know you or your back story.  They only know how you treat them.

It goes back to the golden rule we all learn in kindergarten, “Treat people how you want to be treated.”  And if they treat you like a big pile of dog poo then use my other go-to rule, “Kill them with kindness.”

I remember I received a forwarded email once and I can’t remember the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of “life is 10% what happens to us and 90% our reaction to it.”

All in all this whole situation was a reminder to me:
• Don’t get wrapped up in the small stuff (i.e. freaking sausage links)
• Remember that people only know what they see and interact with (i.e. even if your world is imploding, don’t be a jerk)