Tag Archives: challenge

Reading Challenge: Book Three

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) By Mindy Kaling

This book took me entirely too long to read. I just couldn’t make myself pick it up. I HAD to finish it though, because it counted for my book written by a celebrity and book written by a comedian! Two categories on my list!

Mindy Kaling is clearly a very funny woman who has a successful career as a comedic writer and actress. She has witty stories staring famous people. She has honest opinions that many would be afraid to share. Unfortunately, her comedic genius didn’t transfer to written word very well. She seems to be  scattered story-teller with little forethought to the overall feeling to her book.

She did successfully make her life relatable and funny. There were times I laughed out loud. I finished the book wanting a more fluid tale. I didn’t hate reading the book, but I wouldn’t recommend it.


Monthly Exercise Goals

I like to buy things. I don’t like to exercise. I feel like my life would be less complicated if those were switched and I didn’t buy much but exercised a lot. My husband would also like me to not buy much. I wouldn’t say I’m the biggest spender – but darn those Target endcaps! I tend to feel guilty about spending money on myself when I don’t feel like I’ve “earned” it. So – this is kind of what this post is about.

I like to think I’ve always been somewhat athletic, and I do like a competition… but there’s just something about exercising [for the health of it] that kind of makes me squirm now. There doesn’t seem to be any tangible rewards for getting your sweat on, at least not the immediately gratifying rewards I like so much. What is more terrible is that I am a healthcare provider – and I’m constantly reminded of how important exercise is.

So, I thought I’d try something new this year. Instead of going for that perfect bod image, I’m going to try smaller (and more tangible) rewards for exercise. For each month, I’ve picked an exercise challenge and with it a reward for completing it! Don’t get me wrong – this is not me saying that material things are important and that’s the only way I’ll stay motivated. If I don’t complete the challenge, I’m not going to die. This is just me trying something new, trying to stay healthy, and having fun doing so.


Links to:

If you like this idea, why don’t you join me? Holler back, and tell me your monthly challenges/rewards.

Cooking Challenge

To finish this month out, we thought we would share with you one of our “healthy choices” challenges. We all know that we could use a few extra greens on our plate, and a few less processed cheeses (sorry, velveeta). One of the hardest things about cooking, is decided WHAT to eat. Second to that – is actually cooking whatever you finally choose. If you’re anything like me… by the time I decide what to eat I’m too lazy to cook it so we go for take-out instead. Disaster.

In order to start making better choices, we decided to try and cook one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner using new recipes we had found online. By sharing them on the web, it’s keeping us accountable to try new things and strive for healthy choices.

Here are the recipes and our honest opinions. Enjoy!

Adriene chose: protein pancakes, chipotle corn chowder, creamy spinach and sausage pasta.

Protein Pancakes – I’m always looking for a way to integrate more protein in my diet. I love breakfast, and pancakes are sort of a weakness! I have to be honest, I wasn’t into this recipe much. The taste wasn’t bad, but the I think the protein made the batter a bit too gritty. I also just don’t really like plain greek yogurt so I think next time I would use vanilla. On the plus side, the pancakes were nice and fluffy, and cooked quickly and easily! I put a couple in the freezer, to see how well they would do. I’ll update after I try them!

Chipotle Corn Chowder – This was an excellent recipe! I’m so glad I decided to try it because it was a nice hearty soup that is much different than what I usually eat. It’s a nice alternative to chili on a cold winter day. What is great about this recipe is that it made a LOT of soup, so it could feed a lot of people. I think this could also be frozen and thawed for a later meal. I didn’t get to try that this time because we ate it ALL. A+ in my book! I added it to my Pinterest board of “recipes worth keeping”.

Creamy Spinach and Sausage Pasta – This was also a good choice for me! I love the one-pot deal and although it took a bit longer to cook than I’d like it to, it was delicious. I’m not sure I’d fix this every week (mostly because we don’t eat a lot of sausage), but it would be a great pot-luck or family gathering dish. This also was added to the board!

Allison chose: crockpot chicken tikka masala, turkey lasagna roll ups, and pumpkin Cranberry protein muffins

Let me start by saying that I NEVER cook. This was an intimidating challenge to me for that reason. I wanted to try things that were way out of my comfort zone and, considering my comfort zone consists of frozen pizza and boxed mac and cheese, it didn’t take much. After telling my sister of my night of cooking she exclaimed, “Who ARE you?!” You’ll see that that my challenge was a great success and to say I’m proud of myself is an understatement.

Chicken Tikka Masala– This is my all time favorite food. I drive two hours to Columbia to eat it at India House as often as I can. I can say this dish was a success! It was fairly simple to put together and after you’ve done all the prep work the crockpot does the rest. The drawback to this recipe is the sheer amount of spices necessary to provide the traditional Indian flavors this dish boasts; it makes for an expensive grocery bill if you don’t already have the spices. I consider the investment in spices to be well worth it.

Lasagna Roll Ups– Roll ups were a stretch for my culinary prowess. The ingredients were straight forward, but apparently the process of cooking the noodles was too difficult! By the time I was finished cooking there were broken noodles galore. So, due to my lack of patience, I simply resorted to making a traditional lasagna. It was great! This will be something I try again so I can master the rolling of the noodles for a fancier dish.

Pumpkin Cranberry Protein Muffins– Breakfast is something that has to be quick and easy because I eat it in my car. Making things ahead of time guarantees that I will leave the house with food and avoid the McDonald’s line. I had to substitute the oat flour for whole wheat simply because I refused to make an additional trip to a different store in order to find it. Despite the substitution and a few set backs during cook time, this recipe was a success. They are moist and tasty. The only thing I might change is adding some additional pumpkin pie spice to kick up the batter’s flavor.

12 Verses to Memorize in 2016


I’ve never been good at remembering Bible verses, despite learning many in my childhood years. It’s like I can remember the gist of the verse, but I can’t remember where it’s at or who said it. I’d like to change that this year. I’ve picked out 12 verses, and I’m going to try and memorize one a month. It may not seem like a lot to some, but for me I think it’s a really good challenge. I’m hoping they will help me delve deeper into the love of the Father.  Some of them are more lengthy than I’ve tried in the past. Here are my selections, if any of you want to join me!

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air – they do not sew or reap or store away in barns. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” Philippians 4:6-9

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, that Christ’s power may rest upon me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Proverbs 19:21

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”. Proverbs 19:21

“Show me your ways Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all the day long. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways. According to your love remember me for you Lord are good.” Psalm 25:4-7

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the Law of the Lord and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand judgement, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” Psalms 1:1-6

“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” Galatians 5:22-23

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 1as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:15-17

What are some of your favorite memory verses? Is there a certain way you choose to learn them? Share with us!

Getting over the “Ivory Tower”



I recently met with a student I’m tutoring who stated that when studying for the NCLEX (RN Boards), she felt like it was her “ivory tower”. It was as if the test was a building so grand and so high, she would never be able to climb or conquer it. I’ve heard some call this an “Ivory Tower Syndrome” and during my undergrad years and I believe I experienced it myself. I absolutely dreaded Math and Chemistry, mostly because I felt I knew how undereducated and unprepared I was for each class.  In my attempts to encourage my student, I was caught thinking about my own “ivory towers”. The NCLEX, for example, was hard, but honestly not as hard as getting through nursing school. I prayed every day that if I was on the right path, God would let me pass. I guess I was, because I did. Tackling my first RN job was a tower too.  Now, it’s Chemistry. Each chemistry class I have to take is one more step to the MCAT. Each step looks higher than the next.

Ivory Tower – “a place or situation remote from worldly or practical affairs”. This is the most commonly used description of the term I could find on my quick google search.

I think mostly, people use this in relation to speaking of others who are aloof or unaware of the unpleasantness around them. Those who are high and great and rich are so far “up in the clouds of happiness” that they could never fathom the miserable lives of those who gawk up at them. When we get discouraged, I think we easily put ourselves as the gawkers. For me, I’m always asking questions of why. Why can’t I do this? Why is this so difficult? How come they can but I cannot? I also blame others – Why do they have to make this so hard? I usually answer myself with replies like it’s because your dumb, or lazy, or inadequate, or overambitious. Some would call this self-fulfilling prophecy. These things make MY ivory tower taller, wider, and thicker every time I indulge in self-regret.

So, how do we get over this? How do we ascend the seemingly impossible?

I don’t think theres a quick or easy way. Even though I consider myself to be a young buck (I guess technically I should say doe), there are several things I’ve learned to do when facing something so daunting. They include:

1) Prayer. Lots of it. I pray about everything. I even pray about the things I don’t know I should be praying about. Even if you don’t believe in God, taking time out of your day to be quiet and mindful of your tasks ahead can really center you.

2) Reminders. I have scriptures posted at my desk, so that when I feel anxiety coming up I can read one of those and chillax. It brings me back to reasons I started my endeavor. I posted them right next to the periodic table of elements, a list of acids/bases/and polyatomic ions. You know, the important stuff.

3) Exercise. BIG stress buster! I hate getting to the gym, but once I do, I most always feel better even when just going through the motions.

4) Food. I’m a foodie-wanna-be. I watch too much Chopped and Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Although these shows are more of a detriment to me because they  make me want to eat bacon, I’m often inspired to cook something healthy and full of nutrients. Healthy food = better nutrients = energized body and mind = better grades. That’s what I tell myself anyway! I also live by smoothies. See my favorite Smoothie Recipe!

5) Sleep. Duh. 7-8 hours. No more, no less.

6) Baby Steps – *coughwhataboutbob* One thing at a time bro! You can’t defeat that obstacle if you don’t at least take a step toward it. You won’t take the MCAT if you don’t pass this chemistry class, if you don’t do these equilibrium problems, if you don’t stop watching the Mindy Project….ETCETERA. Just do one problem at a time. Every problem is one step closer.

7) Accountability – get someone you trust enough to pork chop you in the head if you aren’t being a good steward of your time that you’re putting into that tower. Ask someone to call you once a week, or once a day if need be! Just knowing that someone has your back should give you a little boost.

8) Calendar – it’s like a inanimate accountability. If you plan well, you’ll do well. Knowing what you need to do each day to get to your goal is very helpful. For me, I really like crossing things off lists (I guess it’s because I like immediate gratification). Crossing things off a calendar is just as great! [Insert nerd snort 🙂 ].

9) Conscious Stopping. Albeit, a weird term i’ve come up with – but useful. I try ( TRY) to stop myself from thinking negative things before they get too bad. It seems kind of silly, but for me it works!

Anyhoo – I just wanted to share these things in case anyone else is being faced with a tower of their own. I’m always looking for new ways to de-stress and jump hurdles. Got any suggestions? Comment below!!

Small Closet Challenge {Part Two}

Whew! That was a whirlwind! Trying to do everything I wanted to do to my small apartment closet was difficult – because it’s SO small. There’s just not a lot of room to work with, which means a limited amount of options when designating spots for everything. But, using the information I had gathered from my  Small Closet Challenge {Part One} I  did it!

First, I allotted some time in my day to go through everything. The pile system worked wonders, and was quite gratifying. I used bags to collect each pile to make clean up easier. The piles I used were :

  • Trash – items that no one can use anymore (underwear, unpaired socks, etc.)
  • Plato’s Closet / Goodwill – items that don’t fit, are itchy, or that I just don’t like anymore, but still have use.
  • Keep – basics and sentimental items

Some suggest taking everything out of your closet and only hanging things back up that you like. I did not have the time to get it all done in one day, so simply plucking a few items at a time and putting them straight into their perspective bags helped a LOT.

Next, I made a list of basics that I had and also what I would like to have. (See my list here!) I also made a mental list of the types of items I needed to keep in my closet. I was able to do a small sketch of how I wanted my closet to function. Function is key in a small apartment.

Once I organized my remaining items, I took to my creative side. Time to decorate! I took my bag of unwanted clothes to Plato’s Closet. I love it there! They take your last-season clothes and buy them from you. It usually only takes a half to one hour for them to go through your things (depending on how much you bring). The hardest part is trying to not spend more money than you make off your clothes in the retail section. So great! For 14 items, I received $32.70! I used this money to purchase organizing items like baskets, and decorating items like spray paint and craft paper. This re-do literally cost me nothing.

To make my closet not only functional but visually appealing, I did some fun and unnecessary primping of the area. For example:

I made all my hangers match.

I matched hangers and gave a touch of gold to the plastic bin I already owned.

I matched hangers and gave a touch of gold to the plastic bin I already owned.

I put some gold glitz in several places.

I found some 75 cent wastebaskets in a clearance aisle, painted them gold, and used them as organization tools!

I found some 75 cent wastebaskets in a clearance aisle, painted them gold, and used them as organization tools!

I was able to splurge and buy some gold baskets I wanted with the money I got from Plato's closet!

I was able to splurge and buy some gold baskets I wanted with the money I got from Plato’s closet!

"I love gooooold" - Austin Powers Goldmember

“I love gooooold” – Austin Powers Goldmember

I super glued some placemats together to make a “dirt catch” of sorts.

I keep my most used shoes in the bottom of the closet, and this shoe mat will help keep things clean!

I keep my most used shoes in the bottom of the closet, and this shoe mat will help keep things clean!

And a little inspiration never hurt.

A goodwill frame, some scrapbook paper, and a Bible verse will keep my mind in the right place.

A goodwill frame, some scrapbook paper, and a Bible verse will keep my mind in the right place.

All-in-all, this was a great project for me. I feel MUCH accomplished It’s my hope that you are inspired to get creative with your own spring cleaning!