Sunday, December 28, 2014

W80: The Brussels Sprout Verdict

 Even during the holidays, I am constantly looking for challenges.
The whole idea of this blog is to push myself to try new things.

It's important that I give everything a fair chance
before deciding it's not for me...

even if that "thing" is a Brussels sprout...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

W79: Playing Tourist...and More Running

Sometimes I get so bummed out about not being able to take trips due to limited funds or vacation time that I completely forget about exploring places nearby.  This week David and I planned a long overdue date night and tried a new local restaurant called Miga.

 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

W78: The Aunt Goes Running. One by One. Hurrah!

My new experience this week was becoming an aunt for the first time to this precious little one, Violet Elizabeth!  My brother-in-law Stephen and his wife Carrie welcomed their adorable daughter on December 11th!
Violet Elizabeth, born 9:51a on December 11, 2014
6 lbs, 11.8 oz; 19 in long

Sunday, December 7, 2014

W77: Running, man...

Running is hard.

Despite completing six races this year, I still don't consider myself a runner...

When I saw the Runner's World holiday run streak on Facebook, I knew it was a challenge that I simply could not pass up.  One mile each day from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day?!  Yikes...

But I ran that first day (which I happen to believe was the hardest of all since it was freaking Thanksgiving!) and I have forced myself to get those miles in every day since.

Let's take a look at my progress so far!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

W76: A Time of Thanks

I absolutely love Thanksgiving!

What's not to love about a holiday that celebrates food, family, and being grateful?

Every year, I get to partake in two glorious meals, and since I am really trying to be healthier in my food and fitness choices as of late, I used this week as the perfect opportunity to incorporate some of those changes.  The "dishes" I supplied to my mom's Thanksgiving spread were a turkey-shaped veggie tray featuring purple cauliflower, and my healthy apple crisp recipe from a few weeks ago.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

W75: How to Become a Badass

Given last week's cheesecake recipe and my utter lack of a proper workout routine since Matt and I competed in the Warrior Dash in June...

I decided it was about time to recommit to fitness.

I dragged myself and anyone else in the vicinity (my mom, my brother, and even my extremely reluctant husband, David) to the gym a total of four days this week. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

W74: Healthy-ish Pumpkin Maple Cheesecake

With my foray into cooking with last week's Healthy Apple Crisp recipe, I thought why not give it another shot.  And, since I associate apples with autumn though the weather here in Illinois is leaning more towards winter, I thought why not try out another autumnal recipe.

This week's recipe came from a cheesecake book that I received about three and a half years ago as a bridal shower gift.  This was only my second attempt at cheesecake and the first attempt using this particular book (sorry Mom).  You can read about my first cheesecake here.

Since I used light cream cheese and low-fat sour cream, I have deemed this a Healthy-ish Pumpkin Maple Cheesecake.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

W73: Healthy Apple Crisp







Food is a constant challenge for me.

Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE food!

I do not particularly enjoy cooking, mostly because it takes a long time (as in--it's typically not instantaneous), it creates a huge mess (or at least I always seem to when I cook), and anything that sounds remotely appetizing (i.e. bacon, donuts, etc) tends not to be healthy whatsoever.

But fall always rouses some sense of domesticity within me and I just can't help but at least try to bake something.  So this week I tried out a Jillian Michaels recipe: Healthy Apple Crisp.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

W72: At first I was afraid... I was petrified...

My brother, Matt, and I drove to Fowler Park in Terre Haute, IN this past weekend
to participate in our first ever Zombie Survival Race!

It was a 5k obstacle course of the worst kind... 
There was no leisurely pace like there was with the Warrior Dash... 

No, in this race, your very life was at stake!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

W71: Atlanta Mini-Vacay

When I was recently sent to Atlanta, GA for work, 
I took the opportunity not only to learn 
from the training I was attending 
but also to check out a city I'd never been to 
that my brother-in-law, Brian, just so happens to live in!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

W70: Confessions of a Lazy Blogger; or, Words are My Friends

Confession time...

My brother, Matt, and I were supposed to do a zombie run Week 70 with my friend, Jaclyn, and her husband, Mike...

It seems pretty clear that procrastination is hereditary as neither one of us remembered to sign up before the deadline...

Therefore, I found myself scrambling to come up with a replacement challenge for the week!  I didn't want to make any food since we were going to Atlanta the following week, and there weren't any events that I could go to on such short notice...

The panic was setting in...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

W69: Run or Dye!

This week I participated in my fifth race of the year:
a little color run 5k in Rantoul, IL sponsored by Run-or-Dye!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

W68: Baby Love!

As you may recall from a few weeks back,
there is a little one on the way for my brother-in-law, Stephen, and his wife, Carrie.
In honor of my little niece's arrival, I got to paint this beautiful barn (and sunflower patch)
which not only decorated her farm animal themed baby shower
but will also serve as a wonderful toy for her to play with once she's old enough!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

W66: Writing Exercise

I really haven't written anything creative in a while, so for Week 66, I thought I would test out a writing prompt generator that I've never used before from SeventhSanctum.com.

The prompt I was assigned was:  She was the bane of my existence and my constant companion.

I started, first, by brainstorming potential paths I could take with this prompt.  I immediately imagined a woman looking into a mirror or some play on conscience but soon dismissed those as obvious choices.  I needed to dig deeper.  Then, I took a little detour into the weird and twisted with a second head or an absorbed twin...  The next thought was a shadow, but that seemed too abstract or childish.  

Finally, I came up with two semi-decent story lines:

Monday, September 15, 2014

W65: Natural Exfoliant

Okay, I admit it.

I'm a sucker for natural, home remedies...

I am always looking for cool skin and hair treatments from everyday kitchen products.  In preparation for my friend Jaclyn's wedding, I thought I would try out this exfoliant that kept seeing on Pinterest.  It's so simple, it's pretty much impossible to screw up and yet...

Monday, September 8, 2014

W64: Greek Cucumber Salad

I tried Cucumber Salad for the first time at a family gathering on Labor Day and instantly knew I needed to try this recipe out myself!  It's full of delicious veggies but with a Mediterranean flair.  What's not to love?

Dressing: 1/2 c. olive oil, 1/4 c. red wine vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp sugar,
1 clove garlic (minced), 1 sprig fresh dill (minced), 1 tsp dried oregano,
1/2 tsp garlic powder, dash of salt, pepper to taste

Whisk together in a small bowl.

Combine dressing with 1 lb. halved cherry tomatoes (used red & yellow for color),
1/2 c. pitted, drained & halved Kalamata olives, 1 c. goat cheese, 1 diced cucumber

Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Serve over pasta for a complete meal!

It tastes better than it looks in this picture...
I added more goat cheese than the recipe actually calls for since I love it so much!
So it came out a little creamier than it's supposed to...but still delicious!


Coming up... Week 65: Natural Exfoliant

Thursday, September 4, 2014

W63: Bachelorette Weekend Nashville

Beyond excited that my friend, Jaclyn, is getting married in just TWO WEEKS!  
Over Labor Day weekend, I had the pleasure of partying it up in Nashville
with these lovely ladies.
Becky, Jaclyn, me & Michayla
(note the water cup--we were WILD, let me tell ya)
What was so amazing about this trip was that it wasn't entirely focused on going out to the bars.  Yes, we did make it downtown two nights in a row despite the fact that we were all old, married women (except for Jaclyn of course), but those memories weren't even the highlights of the weekend.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

W62: David's 30th!

Throwback from when we first
started dating in 2006!
This weekend my husband, David, hit a pretty huge milestone!

THIRTY!

The big 3-0!

The end of an era...

So, here's how I celebrated three decades of life for the person I love more than anything else on this planet...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

W61: Matthiessen Adventuring

I love hiking!  You know, sometimes you've just got to escape from everyday life a little and spend some quality time in nature!  

Since David works weekends now, I had to find myself a new travel/hiking buddy.  

Luckily for me, my brother Matt fits the description quite nicely!

This week, we ventured to Matthiessen State Park in Utica, IL. 

W60: Cuckoo for Coconut

I've heard a lot lately about the wonders of coconut water...

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of coconut.  (I think it's a texture thing)

But, I figured a beverage should bring about none of my usual aversions to coconut as a food, and it of course provided me with an interesting new challenge for the week!

So here it is...

My take on coconut water...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

W59: Life's Little Milestones

There are so many amazing things happening for the people in my life lately, 
that I spent a lot of time this week reflecting on milestones--
big and small, 
past, present, and future.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

W58: The Eyes Have It

As of late, I've been focused on the external--on going places and doing things.  This week, I wanted to do something creative--to reconnect with the internal for a change.  I wanted to create a work of beauty.

My freshman year of college, I took a drawing class.  To be honest, I wasn't great at it... I didn't do so well with the drawing what I was supposed to part...  I kind of just did my own thing, and if the assignment was something I really didn't want to do--the "egg project" comes to mind--I just didn't.  Not my finest hour as a student...

That being said there were some aspects of that class that I absolutely loved, like the charcoal segment.  There is something very primal, sensual even, about drawing with charcoal.  My charcoal drawings were some of my best work in my brief semester as an artist.  I treasured those dusky renderings of wine bottles and draped fabric until I moved out, and upon claiming my room as his own my brother callously tossed them out.

Anyway, that is the background behind this week's post.  I intended to draw something with charcoal, but as I started to work on the project, I came up with a far better idea.

I began with this photo of our dog, Loki, 
taken on our recent hiking excursion at Turkey Run

First, I made a copy so that I would still have the original if I messed something up. Then, I opened the copy in the photo editor on Microsoft Office 2010 (because that's as fancy as the software gets on my laptop). From there, I cropped the photo down to just his eye, removed the color to make it black and white, and enhanced the white in the photo to give it more contrast.

This is the stunning picture I ended up with.

My original plan was to draw this in charcoal, but I really liked the way the photo turned out with all the detail in the individual strands of hair and the cloudy reflection in his eye. So I decided to leave the photo as is.  I like that it sort of looks like a charcoal drawing.

I am going to see if I can find a way to print it on newspaper or canvas to give it something extra.


Coming Up... W59:  Life's Little Milestones

Sunday, July 20, 2014

W57: Run Turkey Run

This week David and I took Loki to Turkey Run State Park
in Marshall, Indiana for some hiking fun!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

W56: Random Firsts

Everywhere I turn, I see articles about all these different uses for sriracha:

CHOW: 50 Things to Do with Sriracha

Bon Appetit: 25 Ways to use Sriracha

Food & Wine: 10 Ways to Use Sriracha

and so on and so forth...

So, I figured I would give the ole sauce a try this week.

I normally don't like hot, spicy foods so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I do like Tabasco sauce, so I thought there might be some slim possibility that I would like sriracha too.

W55: Elevated Writing

I have been a little busy lately so I apologize for getting a little behind on posting.

Last week, I decided to do a writing exercise since I hadn't done one in a while.  I found the prompt at WritersDigest.com.  This is a website dedicated to providing resources to writers of all kinds.  In addition to prompts, there are articles and competitions and other resources to help people "write better, get published" as the site's motto proclaims.

The Prompt: Shut In:

The department store elevator shuts down on the way to the fourth floor, with you and *eight* other people in it. You remain calm, but other people begin to panic. Write this scene and the dialogue between characters. (modified to have eight people instead of the original ten)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

W54: Much Ado About Muffins

Since the weather did not cooperate for kayaking, I found myself scrambling for a challenge last week.

Then, it hit me: QUINOA!

It's that oddly-named "grain" (pronounced KEEN-wah) that I keep hearing about but have never actually tried.  You may also recognize it from the Bud Light commercials in which the boyfriend continues to grill quinoa burgers for his girlfriend because his team won that one time.  He pronounces it slightly different... QUEEN-oh...

But I digress... As I was saying, I decided to try quinoa...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week 52: Strike a Warrior Pose: A Year in the Making

This marks the fifty-second week of this little experiment.
One full year of weekly challenges, of new experiences.
One of the most important years of my life.  

The Britter Truth began as a way for me to reconnect with myself
but has quickly forced me to reevaluate my entire perspective on life.

One year ago, I was lost.


I wasn't sure who I was outside of student or wife or employee or friend.
I think we have all felt that way at some point in our lives.
With the whole world stretched out before me,
I was quite simply too overwhelmed to take that first step...

...until I started writing.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Week 51: Core Values: A Pilates Experiment

Photo courtesy of Ascend
Pilates -- a workout all about stretching and strengthening the core muscles in a highly controlled manner in order to achieve balance throughout the body as a whole.

In Pilates, the slightest movement can make a drastic difference.  It's all about knowing which muscles to activate and how to go about doing it.  It other words, it's a sneaky, ninja workout in which the effects are not apparent until the following day or two.  These exercises, performed on specialized equipment developed by Joseph Pilates himself, work on deeper muscles that help with stability in the body.  It's those muscles, the ones you never even knew you had because you'd never activated them before that will be sore the day after your session.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Week 50: Winner, Winner, Steak Dinner (with a Japanese flair)

I LOVE sushi!  This week I was challenged to make my own sushi at home.

So that's exactly what I did...

but with a twist...

These are the photos of my steak dinner with a bit of a Japanese flair.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Week 49: San Francisco Adventures--Part II


 San Francisco Bay Area/Wine Country
Food + Drink + lots & lots of photos

More San Francisco Bay Area Food & Beer... 
Okay, it's mostly beer... 

Albany Taproom in Albany, CA
If you're just joining in on this Bay area adventure, 
you should check out last week's post:  
 
If you've been along for this crazy ride from the beginning,
as you were...

So I don't know how obvious this is from these posts, 
but we kind of like beer and food...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Week 48: San Francisco Adventures--Part I

We visited the San Francisco Bay area this week and fell
completely,
madly,
head-over-heels,
at-a-loss-for-words
in love with this place.

It's not just the city itself that's captured our hearts, it's the general vibe of the area as a whole.

It's the stunning man-made structures flawlessly juxtaposed against nature's own creations.

It's the delicious flavors of locally-sourced foods, of carefully crafted brews.  It's the gypsy lifestyle of Haight Street.  That air of creativity.  That tangible spark of electricity that makes this whole place feel alive.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Week 47: Life Lesson: Procrastination = Bad

Me with my brother and mom before the Not Your Average Joe 5k
As follows are the photos and memories of my third 5k of the year: Not Your Average Joe 5k Run at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana, IL.

A wonderful day spent with my family that almost didn't happen...

due to my penchant for procrastination...



Saturday, May 3, 2014

Week 46: If Elvis and Ingrid Michaelson had a musically challenged lovechild...

Since my posts as of late have been dominated by my new found obsession with running, I thought this week I would try to do something a little different.

Remember wayyyy back when I told you I got a ukulele for Christmas?

Well, it was only 15 weeks ago... and I have finally learned one full song to near performance standards!

This week, I logged onto www.ukulele-tabs.com and found myself one of the easiest yet most beautiful songs of all time:  "Can't help falling in love"

So, without further ado...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Week 45: The Ups and Downs of Racing




This was Week 5 of my modified Couch to 5k (C25k) program and my second race of the year: The Illinois Marathon 5k.  Check out Weeks 1, 2, 3 and 4. 

Week 5:


SUNDAY
MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
5 min walk @ 3.5 mph
5 min walk @ 3.5 mph
REST
5 min walk @ 3.6 mph
REST
Illinois Marathon 5k!
REST
 6 min jog @
5 mph
 5 min jog @
5 mph

 7 min jog @
5 mph



5 min walk @ 3.5 mph
5 min walk @ 3.5 mph

5 min walk @ 3.6 mph



6 min jog @ 5 mph
3 min jog @ 5 mph

7 min jog @ 5 mph



5 min walk @ 3.5 mph
7 min walk @ 3.5 mph

5 min walk @ 3.6 mph



3 min jog @ 5 mph
1 min jog @ 5.5 mph

1 min jog @ 6 mph



5 min COOLDOWN
3 min walk @ 3.5 mph

5 min COOLDOWN



LEGS
1 min jog @ 6 mph





65 Squats
5 min COOLDOWN





Walked my dog
65 Squats






(Sunday and Monday were on an incline of 2.5, while Wednesday was only 1.0.)
My Husky-German Shepherd, Loki!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Week 44: Lucky Number 7

Here is yet another writing exercise I tried out in an effort to foster a creative atmosphere for writing: 7x7x7x7

The premise is simple:  Grab the 7th book from your bookshelf.  Open it up to page 7.  Pinpoint the 7th sentence on the page.  Begin a poem that begins with that sentence and limit it in length to 7 lines.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Week 43: Healthy Feast fit for a King




Summer Greens Salad .::.
recipe courtesy of "A Feast of Ice & Fire"

This past week, I decided to try something completely and utterly new... 

To cook a full-fledged feast!

In honor of King Joffrey's wedding on HBO's "Game of Thrones", I felt it was only appropriate to draw inspiration from the amazing food of George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Week 42: Mixin' it up on the Trails

Last week, I started a new modified Couch-to-5k (C25K) workout.  This week I continued to make progress as I slowly built my way up to my first 5k of the year:  The Allerton GLO-Run 5k!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Week 41: Couch Potato Transformation

This week, after dropping my mom and brother off at the airport for a fabulous week-long cruise to Cozumel and other exotic places that are not the bleak and dreary corn-driven states of the Midwest, I decided that I really needed to buckle down if I was going to be ready for my first 5k in four years, now only two weeks away...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Week 40: Hot Stone Massage

Let me preface this post my explaining that I do not like people in my personal bubble.  I do not like people who get too close to me.  And, I certainly do not like people who feel the need to touch me without my explicit permission.  If I am ever pregnant, I will be that crazy lady at the grocery store who punches a stranger for trying to rub her belly. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Week 39: Flash Fiction

Since deciding that I want to write more, I have been trying to find different types of writing exercises to get me back into the routine.  I posted about my study in character development a few weeks ago.  It was also suggested to me that I might want to try flash fiction.

The idea behind flash fiction is that you are only given a limited number of words to tell a story. 

Week 38: Weight for it...

In an effort to continue on this path to a healthier me, I recently subjected myself to a "real" workout with my brother, Matt.

And, let me tell you...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Week 37: The Ultimate Goal

I've heard that once you set your ultimate goal in life, everything you do from that point on should be working towards getting you closer to that goal.  The problem, in my opinion, is being honest enough with yourself to reveal that ultimate goal.

So, what would it be?

Week 36: ALL the Races!

I felt I was getting a little lax on the consistency of my workouts so I created a workout calendar in Google drive.  I can keep track of the days that I workout and my overall progress.  That way, I can visualize how many weeks I have until the races I signed up for!

I physically registered for several races so that I would have that extra motivation to hit the gym.  After all, they are already paid for.

Week 35: Character Development

I have been trying to make myself write more...

Key word: trying.

It's hard for me to just sit down and write with complete focus, and it should be pretty obvious to anyone reading this blog that I'm not so great with deadlines.

I recently I worked on a Character Development Exercise in which I was charged with the task of coming up with ten truths (i.e. self-involved, mirrors his or her partner), ten lies (i.e. graceful, a real go-getter), and ten bizarre facts (i.e. sometimes writes with his or her less dominant hand) about any random character--real or imagined.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Week 34: Tap Takeover

A "tap takeover" is basically a promotional event where a brewery comes in and "takes over" most the taps at a given bar.  For however long the takeover runs, the bar serves a larger selection of that brewer's beers than is normally available.  This intended to get craft beer enthusiasts excited about that particular brewer as more and more breweries pop up and loyalties wane.

In this case, I went to a Dogfish Head tap takeover at The Blind Pig.   

These were the Dogfish Head beers on tap:



Dogfish Head Sixty-One

Pictured on the way right, our new friend, Zach (a rep from Dogfish Head) brought us a bottle of Noble Rot to try.


We were able to talk to Zach, the rep from Dogfish Head, about the direction the company was going with the types of beers they plan to produce.  It was interesting to me that they were trying to get more women into craft beers.  Noble Rot is kind of a cross between beer and wine which the company believes will appeal more to the female demographic.  I will say it was completely different than any other beer I've ever had.  It almost reminded me of champagne.  I tend to drink ciders and fruit beers so this beer is certainly a step in the right direction in my opinion.

All in all, it was a good time.  I would definitely go to a tap takeover again!


Coming Up... Week 35: Character Development

Week 33: SQUAT Team, Go!






At the beginning of February, I started a 28-day squat challenge.  The intent was to focus the entire month of February on improving myself through this particular method of exercise.  The motivation was a before-and-after picture of a young woman who did a 30-day squat challenge and ended up with amazing legs.
As follows is a recollection, in my own words, of how I failed miserably at the task at hand...

Not one to follow the crowd, I created my own workout schedule by combining the following two workout schedules: