The Life in Our Years

As we wrap up 2014, many reflect on their year and think about what to change for the next year. With New Year’s resolutions flying left and right, I thought I’d add mine to the mix:

  1. I don’t want to change anything about myself; I want to learn acceptance and gratitude for what my body already allows me to do.
  2. I don’t want to save so much money for things that I forget to spend money on experiences.
  3. I don’t want to worry so much about the changes that will come in life that I forget to live every minute of every day.
  4. I will, however, take years off my life before I’ll take life off of my years.

That last one may sound a bit extreme, but think about it, what’s the point of life if you don’t live it?

I think it’s important in these years after college to experience all that I can and take chances on just about everything. This is not to say that I’m going to pick up bad habits for the hell of it, but I want 2015 to be the year that I do the crazy things that I’d only dream of doing.

I guess this urge to live life to the fullest comes from the fact that this year will mark the 10th anniversary of my dad’s death. After receiving the news that he had colon cancer at 42, he started doing the things that he had wanted to do his whole life and I’m so glad I got to go along for the ride.

While I love my dad and am thrilled every time I find myself being more like him, I want to learn from him and start my bucket list now, when I still feel young, able and invincible.

So as we begin 2015, I’ll start some of my items mentioned in my bucket list and reflect on the lessons I’ve learned from them. I hope you do the same to put more life in your years.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

A Chronicle of Being Twenty-Two & Sick

Never have I longed to be a kid again more than these past couple of nights being sick.  When you’re a kid, all it takes is one yell up the stairs for mom and she’d just take care of everything and somehow you’d feel so much better. Who knows how they do it; it’s just a mom thing.

Flash forward 20 years to you in the same sickly situation, stuck in your apartment alone getting that urge to call out for good ol’ mom. Only thing is, mom isn’t coming. Mom has done her job for the past 18 years and now it’s up to you to make yourself feel better, and let me tell you, the outlook’s not promising.

First you wake up at around midnight from awful stomach queasiness/pain and sit up in bed, only to find that it’s probably in your best interest to just lay down. Completely flat. Then you think, “maybe I should just try to fall back asleep.” Yeah, if only you could sleep on your back.

You decide to lay there for a good 10 minutes or so and then make the executive decision that you’re going to turn over on your stomach…

BAD LIFE CHOICE! ABORT! ABORT!

Now, once again, you’re lying completely flat on your back and still at square one. You can’t help but curse yourself for not taking some sort of notes on your Etch-A-Sketch as a child as to how your mom would handle this situation.

But wait! You remember that you have some Pepto Bismol in the bathroom. Victory!

Or at least it would be if the bathroom wasn’t so far away. A one bedroom apartment never felt so large. But you (slowly) make your way to the bathroom, choke down some Pepto pills and then (slowly) make your way back to bed.

It’s now 1:30 am and you’re thinking of writing a very angry letter to the people at Pepto Bismol for selling, what you’re convinced are placebo pills, because absolutely nothing about your symptoms have changed.

After giving up that fight, you watch a couple episodes of your guilty pleasure show, Desperate Housewives, and it takes a Superman kind of strength to not keel over and die every time Bree brings some neighbor muffins. Damn, that woman makes a lot of muffins. Why does food seem to appear in every single frame?

You begin to learn from your mistakes and get smarter as to when there might be food coming up. So you turn your head away from the iPad, like what your mom would tell you to do at the scary part of a movie. You’re finally feeling a little better, until you look at the clock and it’s 4:26 am.

Groaning, you pray for sleep because you’re still new at work and don’t feel you can take a sick day. Fantastic. Being 22 and sick blows.

You wrack your brain again, repeating the same question over and over again, “WWMD?” You decide that mom would just tell you that you need to relax and maybe even meditate.

So you turn off the iPad and lay there once more. You think of anything but being sick. And slowly…slowly…slowly, you fall to sleep.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

It’s 7 am and your alarm is going off, telling you to go join the real world.

You groan because you remember that you can’t even have your mom call in for you.

It’s a vicious cycle, I tell ya.

Stay well and until next time,

C. Brooks

Pin of the Day – #7

It’s been my first week of pins and I’m ready to end it with a cocktail!

In honor of never being one to skip out on a Margarita Monday, I’m pinning a recipe for a Champagne Margarita I’ve found from Mantitlement. And be sure to check out his blog for more foodie how-to’s. This recipe should make about 4 drinks. Or it can make 1 really big drink if your Monday was just short of fan-freaking-tastic.

Be sure to try it out for your New Year’s celebration or for your IMadeItThroughMonday celebration. Either way, cheers!

Ingredients
  1. 4 T. fresh key lime or lime juice
  2. 2 oz. tequila
  3. 2 oz. pineapple juice
  4. 2 oz. triple sec
  5. 1 (750 ml) bottle of champagne
  6. lime wedges for garnish
  7. enough salt or sugar for rimming the glasses

Instructions

  1. Dip the rim of your glass into a small dish of water and then into small dish of sugar or salt.
  2. Mix all of your ingredients into a pitcher for the base.
  3. Add 1.5 oz. of the margarita mixture to each glass.
  4. Top with champagne
  5. Add fresh lime to make it look extra fancy. 🙂

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Follow for daily pins or look at my whole collection on Pinterest. You can either follow the link listed on the main menu or simply click here.

Favorite Things – Sweaty Bands

Being a woman runner with long hair is not the easiest thing to be. When I first started running, I would try so many different hair styles and hair ties/headbands to keep my hair back and out of the way, but nothing was really working well. I was the Goldilocks of hair accessories. Then one day a friend gave me my first Sweaty Band. I tried it on my run that afternoon and didn’t have to touch it once.

But, seriously. Not. Once.

I wear this headband during all of my workouts, yoga sessions and runs. It never slips and never falls back. It’s also extremely comfortable because it doesn’t need a super tight fit like so many other headbands. 13.1

My friend gave me the 13.1 pink Sweaty Band, and it’s still my favorite out of the numerous Sweaty Bands that I own. There are all different kinds of colors, patterns, sports and sorority letter designs and even a “Chic” line with headbands for everyday wear. Sweaty Bands retail from $10 – $20, depending on what kind of design you’d like. They come in so many fun patterns, colors and sizes, it’s hard to choose just one.

You can also customize your headband too! Just send your ideas, team logos or prints to them online and they can help make a special collection of Sweaty Bands for your group or organization.

Check out the Sweaty Band site for all of their amazing headbands. I promise it’ll be your new favorite thing.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Pin of the Day – #6

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New rule: there are none.

When it comes to what you wear, you shouldn’t let anyone tell you what to wear and how. Can you take suggestions on what works for others? Sure! Fashion blogs, magazines and Pinterest are great places to get ideas, but always feel that you should make them your own.

That’s the great thing about being a twenty-something: you get to wear whatever you feel like wearing. I wear what I feel. Even when Anna Wintour has said she’d never wear head to toe black, I kind of like to do it every once in a while because I feel like a badass when I do.

What I’m saying is that fashion is definitely a case of, “to each his (or her!) own.” Everyone’s got their personal style and it’s not anyone’s business to say if it’s in fashion or not. Ignore the rules and if you like it, wear it.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Follow for daily pins or look at my whole collection on Pinterest. You can either follow the link listed on the main menu or simply click here.

Pin of the Day – #5

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This Saturday, do something that makes you happy. Anything: cook your favorite meal, stay in your pjs all day, have a dance party in your living room. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just make sure to do something that makes you smile all over your face.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Follow for daily pins or look at my whole collection on Pinterest. You can either follow the link listed on the main menu or simply click here.

Pin of the Day – #4

Saw this and it became one ofGreat to Start my favorite quotes. It’s important to keep moving forward and try everything you think is worth while to bring fun and great things into your life.

Starting this blog was something I thought I’d never do, but I’ve realized it’s given me the opportunity to start trying new things and share my experiences with others so that they can find joy in them too.

We all have so many things to learn in life and we all need to start somewhere.

Follow for daily pins or look at my whole collection on Pinterest. You can either follow the link listed on the main menu or simply click here.

Wisconsin Bacon Mac & Cheese

Wisconsin Bacon Mac & Cheese

This is a simple dish that IMG_0197will quickly become everyone’s favorite. I made it yesterday for Christmas lunch and it was voted kid approved!

Servings: 6-8 people as main dish, but up to 15 people if serving as a side

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes, 400 degrees F

Ingredients: 

1 lb of macaroni noodles

3 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

4 cups of milk

3 cups of grated Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese

2.5 cups of grated Wisconsin Monterey Jack Cheese

1 package of thick cut bacon

Salt and pepper

1/2 tablespoon of oil

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  • Bring a large pot of salted water and oil over high heat. Then add the macaroni and cook until al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain the macaroni.
  • Cook bacon until crispy in frying pan. Put paper towels on a plate for when the bacon is fully cooked. Blot bacon to get most of the grease off. Chop or rip into small pieces.
  • If in blocks, grate the Cheddar and Monterey jack cheese, but to make life easier, buy pre-shredded.IMG_0185
  • In a small pan, heat the butter until melted and add the flour. Stir constantly to keep clumps from forming and until the roux (flour and butter) is a paste.
  • In a second bigger pan, heat milk until warm.
  • Add the roux mixture to the milk. Stir vigorously until it comes to a boil.IMG_0189
  • Stir in 5 cups of cheese to the milk mixture until melted.
  • Pour cheese mixture onto the noodles and stir in.
  • Fold in most of the bacon, but save some for sprinkling on top!
  • Pour mac & cheese into a 9 x 13 baking dish. The one pictured  below is ceramic.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove and sprinkle the rest of the bacon and the rest of the cheese on top. Bake for 5 more minutes or until top layer of cheese melts.
  • Remove from oven and enjoy!IMG_0196

A special thanks to my mom for helping with the dish while I took pictures. Cooking is more fun when it’s a family affair.

Enjoy the dish and until next time,

C. Brooks