Judging is hard work 

Judging is hard work 

Today I got to be a judge. A dessert judge. And not just any kind of dessert, Girl Scout cookie desserts made by Girl Scouts. This was one competition I was ready for.

This is the first year that the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana has hosted Cookielisious, a girl baking completion using Girl Scout cookies. It was held at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage in Louisville and drew in about 200 people. I love that they brought it back to the girls and let them be creative.

GSKYA is still doing their signature fundraising event, Desserts First at the end of the month that has chefs from all over the Louisville area by using Girl Scout cookies in creative ways, but more on that in a later post (I am a judge for that event as well).

There were a total of 30 different desserts and each judge was asked to judge 15 of them. Going into this I figured there would be a few stand outs, but I was wrong. They were all standouts, making my job way harder.

The things they asked us to judge on where appearance, taste and use of Girl Scout Cookie. The girls were broken into, their age levels so we did not have to put a 16 year old in the same skill level as a 7 year old. Smart plan.

Let me tell you, these girls went all out (see some pics below). They all did an amazing job and really put their hearts into it, along with way more skill than I could ever have in baking. They earned some mad respect today.

It was my honor and pleasure to do this for the Girl Scouts. The excitement the girls had for this event was evident in the effort they put forth and the joy they were telling me what they had made. I hope the Girl Scouts continue with this event and it keeps getting better and better.

 

 

Getting back at it

January, the month we all join the gym, eat healthier, make resolutions to do better, and so on. I am not one to be left out so I am doing the same. I already posted about my 2016 Goals and one of them is to lose 30 lbs this year. My hope is to be off my oral steroids by next month, if all goes well, and that will help some. But being on them for almost 2 years and me not really caring about what I was eating as much as I should, has caused some major weight gain for me.

With all that being said, today I started the Whole 30 again. I did it last January and lost 10 lbs, but went back to old habits and gained it all back + some. This year I hope is a little different. I am also uping my gym game. I already belong to an awesome gym, just need to make time to go more.

With all that said so far so good this week. I started the Whole 30 program. This time around it is much easier than when I did it last year. It is helping me to accomplish a few of my goals this year like cooking more at home. I cooked 4 out of 5 nights this week and headed to mom’s house for dinner on the fifth. This is also helping me to save money as eating at home and not out is way cheaper.

I am going to try hard to sick with it next week. Frist step, farmers market to get so supplies. Let’s see if I can remember to blog about what I cook.

I also went to the gym 3 days this week and planning on one more for about 2 hours. Not as much as I want to be doing, but it is a start.

Let’s hope I can keep this up. I like the way I am feeling after one week.

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2016 Goals

2016 Goals

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Hello world. Let’s all agree that I suck at blogging. I really should write more. It is good for me so I am going to try. I am going to try and start the new year off right, by setting some goals and writing about them. Each time I accomplish a goal, it will be documented. They are listed below in no particular order.

2016 Goals
1) Blog more
2) Lose 30 lbs
3) Ride my bike 500+ miles
4) Race my bike again
5) Do another 5k
6) Pay off my credit card
7) Move into Silks 2
8) Get my bedroom and bathroom painted and fixed up
9) Get my business website done
10) Get a new car
11) Clean out email inbox
12) Cooke more at home
13) Try baking
14) Produce a vlog 

I hope to update these and add more as the year goes on. I know I am much better if I write them down and can review them.

 

2015 recap part 2

2015 recap part 2

I thought that I should break my 2015 into two parts cause so much great stuff happened, not because I am trying to reach my goal of more blogging ;).

I realized as I was putting this all together, that 2015 was a pretty great year. Bad things happened, I am sure, but I cannot remember them so they must not have been that bad, right? Or maybe I just choose to focus on the positive and forget the negative? Whatever it is, you are just getting all the good.

IMG_3389.JPGVacation time! This year NPR and I spent a fun week in Michage. He is from the land of the mitten and this is the second year we have vacationed in the resort town of Luddington, MI. with his family. And when I say family I am talking aunt, uncles and cousin, the whole gang. They are wonderful fun family and know how to have a fun time. I really enjoy hanging out with them and getting to know my husbands family a little more. I also got to see where NPR grew up and meet his grandparents for the first time. We are going back in 2016 and maybe this year I will not need the to huddle around the campfire to keep warm.

I picked up a new hobby in 2015. One I never would have guessed me doing. I joined a circus gym called Suspend and it is ah-mazing. I am learning all sorts of new things, like silks, and aerial hoop, and aerial yoga. I also have discovered a wonderful group of people that are unlike most. They are completely accepting and loving and happy. It is a world that I find myself completely comfortable in.

Sister announced that she is pregnant with baby #2- My baby sister and her hubs gave me my first blood related nephew in 2013. That little man is now 3 and I love him more than I could of ever thought possible. In 2016, they are gonna have another baby! I am so excited that I can hardly stand it. More little ones to love and spoil.

IMG_4060Wedding- So I GOT MARRIED! Yep, that was pretty much the highlight of my 2015. The event planner got to plan her dream event, and that it was. NPR likes a good party as well, so with that in mind, we set put to plan the party of the year. We picked October 31, 2015 as our day, yep Halloween, cause why not? It was perfect for us. We set out for the party of the year and that is what we produced. We ate, we drank, we said “I do” and life is wonderful, most of the time. If life were prefect then it would not be nearly as much fun or rewarding.

Surgery (again) – On December 2 I have my 5th sinus surgery, and what should be the last because, really there is not much more that can be done. I will not go into details about all of this, but I am still recovering and hopeful that it will help and that I can get off the yucky steroids that I have been on for way too long.

IMG_3484My big sister got engaged and she is getting married in Dinsny World! OMG I am probably way more excited about this that I should be. Not the sister getting married part cause that is pretty damn awesome, and I am really excited about this and should be, but the Dinsny World part. I also get to help plan her wedding and that makes my event planning heart happy. Who’s up for another Vaughan wedding? I am!

Like I said, 2015 was a pretty amazing year and I am very excited to see what 2016 has in store. I hope to better about being on top of it in the blog rather than recapping.

2015 recap part 1

Another year is ending and what a year it was for me. 2015 brought more change than many other years in my life. It was overall a wonderful year and I hope the 2016 is just as good.

IMG_2101In late 2014, my love, NPR (yes, those really are his initials), proposed to me. It was a cool and rainy night and just perfect for us. That set the stage for the whirlwind and wonderful 2015. Some of the highlights are below.

In January NPR and I moved into our new house. It is a great house, not too far from my old house. It is much better for hosting friend (one of my favorite things to do). It also is great for all of NPR’s bikes. He has lots of room to store them and work on them. The only think I miss about the old house is the yard and my lovely patio. But the tradeoff was well worth it. We both love the house and all the potential it has.

IMG_2338In February I got a new job with a local startup news publication, Insider Louisville. One that I love. I work with some pretty great people, that I am learning from daily. I was a little uncertain what I was getting myself into when I took the job. I have worked for lots of nonprofit and a few big companies, but never a start-up. One big thing I learned was that a startup is a lot like a nonprofit. It reminds me of my early days at Apple Patch, where work life was fun and the work was rewarding. I get to learn new skills and teach skills that I have. I offer up ideas that are not dismissed, or if they are I am told why. I am trusted to do my job and have been told I do it well. That makes this little ESFJ a happy camper and happy to go to work.

NPR gets a new job. My love is a very talented bike mechanic (I say the best in the city, but I might be a little bias). He is now working for a local shop that really values his talent and where he can have fun being him. On Your Left, is an amazing shop owned by two pretty cool dudes that know a lot about bikes. This makes NPR happy and exited to go to work. If you need your bike fixed or tuned go see NPR. You can also pick up some gear while you’re there. Heck, you can get a whole new bike while you are at it.

How cool that both of us love our jobs?

This year I took a big step and invested in learning how to be a better small business owner. Now I am not looking to leave the previous mentioned job, but it also loves that I have a brand, 502 Social is fun for me and allows me to be creative in ways that my job does not. So the big step was taking a business class that was offered though NAWBO. It was a great class of 8 women that learn a lot from each other and the class. I am very glad I did it, and hope to keep applying what I learned in 2016.

More to come …

What’s the best thing about being an adult? Dessert First!

What’s the best thing about being an adult? Dessert First!

Yes, you all know it, being able to have the choice of eating dessert first is one of the best perks to being an adult. And you know one of the best desserts to eat first? Girl Scout Cookies! Combine these two things and the most wonderful chefs in Louisville and you have my kind of heaven, Girl Scouts of Kentuckana’s Desserts First.

I have attended this event over the years and always come away with a smile on my face and a belly full of deliciousness. This year all my dreams have come true and I was asked to be a judge. I did hesitate, just a little because I have never judged anything like this before and even gave them names of others that would be way better at this than me, but they still wanted me so here I am, an official Dessert First judge for 2015.

So what is Desserts First? It is a benefit for the Girl Scouts of Kentuckian, an organization that I love and does wonderful things for girls (and women). For the last 9 years this event has been going on and raising some needed funds for the council. This year’s event is encouraging the chef t to explore STEM with the  theme being, Technology of Cooking. How cool is that? I am super excited to see what the chefs come up with.

Not sure if you have picked up on my excitement about this event or not, but we are T-5 days away and I keep checking the weather forecast making sure mother nature will not be raining, snowing, sleeting, icing or anything else on my little tasting party.

So who is going to join me and a few other super cool people for this event? You can find out more info here.

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I also just found out that you can get BOGO (Buy One Get One) tickets to this event by visiting this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/girl-scouts-of-kentuckiana-desserts-first-2015-tickets-14946780222

I will be live instagraming and twittering from the event, follow me @ChristineInLou

As many of you know I am a co-leader of the #besttroopever, along with @ashleeats and we are in this together. That adds a little icing on my cake so be able to do this event with a co-leader and friend as well as being able to give back to such a wonderful organization.

Desserts First Graphic for Social Media

Writers Workshop- A must

In October I started to take a writers workshop from a talented local writer that wanted to provide a fun learning environment to all skills levels. It was 8 weeks long and I can say it was AMAZING. I learned things that a normal classroom could not teach me. I learned spelling, grammar and structure matter but not until after you have written your shitty first draft. You learn that you have a voice and what is important is to get your story out. Fiction or non, we all have a story and sometimes we just need to get it on paper.

Not only did it help me to get my stories out, but I also met a group of wonderful people and got to learn about them though their writing. We now hold a special bond that is hard to obtain in the busy world. We all stopped to listen, understand and relate. We laughed, we cried, we supported.

The reason for this post? If you are in the Louisville area and want a great educational value you should check out this workshop. Angela (our leader) has created more workshops, due to popularity. I have already signed myself up for the memoir writing class that starts in January. I am counting down the days until it starts and have already blocked off my calendar. You can check out more at the website http://www.feettothefirewriters.com/ or go straight to the registration page https://www.eventbrite.com/e/feet-to-the-fire-writers-workshop-tickets-14558409595.

My Story

I posted on FB and Instagram yesterday a picture of me reading at an open mic night and it got a lot of attention. If you are interested in reading the story that I wrote and read it is posted below. I am very proud of it, but also know it needs some work. I hope to only improve on it and my writing skills. I took at the wonderful writing workshop over the last two months that really helped me to develop as a writer. You can find out more information about it here:  http://www.feettothefirewriters.com/message

5 Senses

It is amazing, to me, how often people talk about all 5 senses and needing them to accomplish things. Do you remember playing “would you rather game” as a kid? You were asked would you rather be blind or deaf? I always picked deaf. To this day I cannot image a world where I could not see the beauty that it has to offer. Part of this answer might have been based on the fact that I knew what it was like not to have all of my hearing, as I had gone through 3 ear surgeries by the age of 8. But what about the other senses? We have touch, taste and smell, two of which are linked- taste and smell. What if you were to lose one of these senses?

At the wonderful age of 33 I learned what it was like not to have a sense of smell and in turn the sense of taste. Let me tell you it SUCKS. There is no other way to really say it, it SUCKS. Imagine not being able to smell anything; flowers, coffee brewing in the morning, your own body odor, the dog shit you stepped in, or again your own BO. I cannot say exactly when I lost my sense of smell, but it was like I blinked and it was gone. I thought, at first, that is was temporary. Like my allergies were just really bad and I needed some meds. This was my thought process for way longer than it should have been, but denial is always best, right?

After the reality that my smell was not coming back anytime soon set in, I realized I was screwed. I was sick, and not in the way a regular doctor’s visit could fix. I was a 33 year old unemployed gal with no health insurance, despite my best efforts, that was visibly sick. Getting sick after every meal, stairs were my enemy, sleep was not happening, and my overall mind set was going downhill very fast. I remember talking to a childhood friend of mine who is a doctor and asking if she could help. At first she was hesitant (I don’t blame her for this) but when she saw me in person she took one look and said, how can I help? She told me in the 25+ years of knowing me, I had never looked so sick.

I also remember the time I had a complete breakdown while trying to pack for a Girl Scout camping trip. I was in my parent’s basement, trying my best to get the things I needed without asking for help, and my mother coming to help. Me snapping at her (for I am sure no good reason) and then I lost it. Full on sobbing breakdown because I felt helpless and frustrated. Mom looked at me and said “who are you? I want my Chrissy back, lets fix this”.

So what did I do? I waited (and waited) for the Affordable Care Act to take effect. And on February 1st, 2014 I got health insurance and an appointment with a very highly recommended ENT. I also visited my regular doctor to find out if I could do anything in the mean time. At that visit, she told me I had bronchitis and had for a while, so I got a shot that helped a little but not nearly enough. I also ended up coughing so hard one evening that I thought I’d broken a rib. I had to go to immediate care where I found out, that due to coughing so hard, my chest muscle had contracted and did not want to relax. Yeah, I know, strange.

Being sick for a long time does things to you. It puts thoughts into your head. I found myself thinking I was a lazy person. Was this really who I was, someone that sat on the couch all day and did nothing but play on the internet, watch trash TV, live in yoga pants and slowly gain weight? Was I fooling everyone with an act that I was always happy, healthy and active? I truly started to believe that was me- fat, lazy, and someone who needed to adjust their style of living to someone that needed disability insurance.

Finally the day of my appointment was here. I showed up with my shiny new Medicaid card in hand, ready to get some answers. So what did I find out? Nothing good, nothing good at all. My sinuses were 99.9% blocked and I have nasal polyps, something that has no cure. What the FUCK? No, really, what the FUCK does all this mean and what can be done about it. The good news was I was in the right place with the right doctor. The plan? Surgery and meds. Story of my life, it seems. I was basically going to have my sinus passages sucked clean and widened as much as possible. More thoughts went running though my snot filled head. Would this really fix the problem and if so, for how long? Would I be able to ride my bike again? Workout ever? Smell, oh and maybe breathe like a normal person again? The doctors answer? More than likely yes, but maybe not. What? Maybe? Maybe? Guess that was better than nothing, right? So I weighed my choices- breathing or not- I went for the breathing/surgery option and hoped it would work.

In March of 2014 I had surgery 1- yep #1. When I came out of the anesthesia, mom was waiting for me, with the good/bad news. Good news, the doc got most everything and could reduce the size of the polyps. The bad news- I have super small sinus cavities and he could only do so much with making them bigger and he could not get to my frontal sinus lobe because of a malfunction with the equipment so I would need another surgery. Yep, that is right, another surgery.

The doc said to heal for about a month, see what changed and then we would schedule the next surgery. In the month between the two I was opened to a whole new world. I could smell again, I could walk up stairs and life was going back to normal. April rolled around and surgery #2 to clean it all out. Success was right around the corner- that is what I was betting on anyway. Stay positive right?

#2 was a success and I was still breathing. My follow up appointments were all going well- except for one thing, I was told I had to be on Prednisone the rest of my life. The horrible, awful life saving wonderful drug that makes you a crazy person. So I traded lazy, non-smelling, non-tasting and barley breathing Christine for a crazy, breathing, active one. Not a bad trade, right?

It has been 6 months post-surgery and I would love to sit here and tell you that it worked 100% but that is not the truth. I have great days, good days and shitty days. Days where I can ride 20 miles and not look back and days where I get short of breath looking at my bike. Most of the time I smell and taste, but there are still the ones that I wake up and smell nothing.

So this is my life now, I still stay positive about it, most of the time. I am making life changes and trying to figure it all out. For the most part I take it one day at a time and live life the best I can.

Fire Starters

Fire Starters

My Girl Scout troop is going camping in a few weeks and I noticed our supply of fire starters the girls made about 4 years ago was running low. My girls love a good fire and you never know when you will need a little  bit of help starting it so I got to work on making some new ones. Usually I have the girls help with these sorts of projects, but we run out of days before the trip and they are still a bit young to be working with super hot wax. Maybe next time we need them, they can help.

I think I spent a total of $4 on this project and plenty of supplies left over to make more. When I realized I needed to make the fire started, I started looking for candles at yard sales. I hit the jackpot and got a grocery bag full of good ones for $2. I had also saved a cardboard egg carton to use and started collecting my dryer lint. Dryer lint is a great aid in fire starting. Next I hit up the Dollar Store for a cheep pan and ladle spending a total of $2.

I put the pan on the stove, set the heat to about medium and added the candles. While I waited for them to melt I added the dryer lint to each little egg cup in the carton. Just enough to cover the bottom, you really do not need a lot. I also set the egg carton on an old cookie sheet I had, just in case the hot wax leaked out the bottom. Once the wax was good a melted I ladled it into the egg carton- the wax is super hot at the time, so be really careful. Turns out the cookie sheet was a good idea as some wax did seep out the bottom. Once I was all done filling the egg carton, I took it outside, still on the cookie sheet to dry and harden fully. I then tore them apart and sealed them in a container. I now have 12 awesome fire starters that should last a little while. See pics below of my process.

HOW TO MAKE A Fire starter

Life back to normal, or normal for me

Another NuLu Fest is in the books (for the most part) and my life might calm down for a bit. If you know me, you know my life never really calms down, and that is okay with me. I go go go most of the time. But who knows, maybe this fall, I will stop and enjoy the pumpkins a little more before all the stilly cold white stuff buries us all under.

I love fall. The beautiful colors, the smell of outdoor fire pits, Halloween, pumpkins, soup, and boots. It is hard to pinpoint my favorite thing about fall. Pumpkins make me smile and I have the most fabulous boot collection. I also love my sweaters and back porch sitting around my fire pit. If I had my way fall would be a year round thing. Maybe the BF will build me a fall room? Is that a thing? I will have to go and search Pinterest.
What are your favorite things about fall?

Cutest pumpkin in the patch
Nephews first pumpkin picking in 2012