February 26, 2013

Fort Collins - Two Months In

After living here for two months, Fort Collins is starting to feel like home. 



Things we love about living here:

The youthful, energetic, entrepreniual spirit about the town. 
Being able to snowboard whenever we want. We're making trip #3 to the mountains on Friday!
The abundance of restaurants, many being local to CO.
The closeness we are to Denver - you know I love the big city. 
The friends that we've made!
"Our" church, Mill City.
Being within 15 minutes of work - both of us.
All of the snow. 
More time together. 
A different kind of a microbrew at every turn.
The slower lifestyle that we've created.
Being able to take our dogs with us everywhere. 
Staying close to our loved ones back home despite the distance. 

Things we're still getting used to:

All of the snow.
The price of real estate & rentals.
The high prices of gyms & what they have to offer. Wichita - You have it so good w/the YMCAs.


I really get the sense that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Have I said that before? Maybe. Probably. But it is a really happy & good feeling. 

Stay safe & warm today, on yet again, another snow day!


February 24, 2013

Forgiveness

Everyone has someone in their life that has hurt them. Sometimes, we even have multiple someones. Just like we, ourselves have hurt one or many people over the course of our life, whether intentional or not. 

And while I think it's important to fully process our anger, sadness and any other emotions that arise, I think the most important thing we can do for ourselves after being hurt is to forgive.



I went through a difficult time in 2010. Not only did the man who raised me as his daughter abandon me only months before my wedding, I was also dealing with the loss of my first job out of college, meeting my biological father and issue upon issue with the group of people Cory & I had called our friends since high school.

Now that three years have passed, I look back & see that this was all part of God's plan for our life. Every single hardship Cory & I went through together that year made us stronger individuals. The problems that were in our life at that time made our marriage more solid than I could have hoped for & most importantly, gave us the courage to unapolegetically be ourselves.

What I learned from that year is that it may take years to process & forgive, and that's okay. We may never get the apology we feel deserve, and that's okay too. But for our souls, it's important to forgive anyways.


A couple of months ago (gosh - maybe six now?) I heard through the grapevine about something new going on in a person's life that had hurt me in the past. And you know what my first thought was? It was "good for her!" 

In shock, I tried to analyze why I had such a positive reaction to the good things happening in this person's life. "Why am I happy for her?" I didn't understand it at first because our friendship had ended & I truly was happier without her in my life. 

Then I realized that I had forgiven her. Not only that, but in my heart of hearts I wished well for her. And that felt really good.


On that note it's important to know that just because you forgive does not mean that you are opening a door to let people who've hurt you back into your life. No, you're actually doing the opposite. You're taking a lesson from the relationship or situation & you're moving on to be a better person, leaving your recurring thoughts of them behind.


I encourage you to try it. Forgive something that you're holding on to and keep wittling it down until it's gone, no matter how long it takes.  

I promise you, your life will be much fuller once you open up space by letting it go.






February 22, 2013

Chicken Noodle

Awww...the perfect meal for a perfect snow day is none other than chicken noodle soup. 

Last night we holed up for the evening in our little apartment, with snow falling all around.


And made this declicous, healthy & easy dinner. Directions below:

Step One: Cook chicken breasts.


Step Two: Chop up veggies (carrots,celery & a white onion) & throw them in a pot along with a couple shakes of garlic salt, italian seasoning, pepper (lots of it!) & 40 oz. chicken broth.




We bought this garlic salt from a local store in Old Town - such a cute little spice shop!


Step Three: Cut cooked chicken breasts & add them to the pot.

Step Four: Bring to boil & reduce to simmer & let sit until veggies are cooked (approximately 20 minutes). Add frozen noodles in according to the directions (we put ours in for about 10-15 minutes after we've reduced the heat to a simmer, cooking them for @ 5-10 minutes).


Step Five: Serve & Enjoy!


We enjoyed ours with a fire last night.


Do you have a chicken noodle recipe I should try? Leave it in the comments!


February 20, 2013

Life After Masectomy

For those of you following my mom's progress, here is the latest update. 

Surgery went well. 

Recovery didn't go as well as expected, as my mom was more in pain than she had anticiapted, but a masectomy is a pretty big deal. She took two weeks off of work after the surgery & I was able to visit her during that time. She had four tubes in for drainage purposes, and those were a bit uncomfortable, but she was a trooper. 

Occasionally she went a little stir-crazy and got out of the house, but those outings were very brief because they took a lot out of her. 

After two weeks the doctors took two of her tubs out & gave her the okay to head back to work, which proved more exhausting than she expected, as well. Luckily, she works for an awesome couple (and has been working for them most of my life) & they were very supportive of her working half days, every other day, so as not to put too much stress on her.

Two weeks later the doctors were able to take out her last two tubes, which was a relief for her because they were a major source of her pain. The spacers that she has in her chest now are uncomfortable, so she is looking forward to those being replaced by implants this spring.



I personally think she just can't wait to have new, perky boobs to show off.
(If you know my mom -  you clearly know I am just kidding. Kind of.)

As for further recovery, we were hoping to find out yesterday if she would need radiation or chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the tests came back mixed & we have to wait another two weeks to find out if we're "in the clear."

One thing I must mention, before I go, is how strongly my mom has felt God in this whole process. It's the one thing she has been saying over & over & it has been amazing to see her calmness with her diagnosis & surgery. She has truly been the anchor keeping our familly together.



Thank you all so much for the prayers, food & support that you've given my family and please keep her in your prayers for another couple of weeks, while we wait to find out further treatment.


February 18, 2013

Bringing Summer to Winter

I bought this dress about a year ago & missed it so much over the fall, so I decided to make it work for the winter. 

Recipe

 Summer Dress + Chambray Shirt + Scarf + Boots = Winter Perfection


Dress - Rampage, Shirt - loveFIRE, Scarf - from a shop in Chelsea (NYC) & Boots - from Sheplers (Wichita, KS) 


You can keep the girl out of the country, but you can't keep (a tiny little bit of) the country out of the girl.




February 16, 2013

Big Sky Country

We visit Montana about once a year to spend time w/Cory's family. His grandmother lives there so we all fly in from various parts of the country, currently: Hawaii, Colorado & Florida.

This time was a bit different than usual for us, for a couple of reasons.

1. Living in CO now, we had to hire a pet sitter to stay with our pups while we were away, instead of just dropping them off w/family. We paid $220 for 4 nights & 5 days, which included an overnight stay each night, walks & mid-day potty breaks. So worth it, in my opinion.


2. For the first time, maybe ever, I packed a carry-on bag. + $50 in our pockets!


3. We had to pay for long-term parking at DIA. - $50, so the carry on kind of evened out. I felt very adult driving ourselves to the airport & leaving our car parked in long term. Living no more than 10 minutes away from the Wichita airport my whole life, we had always relied on family to drop us up & pick us up.

________________________________________________________________________

As always, it was a peaceful getaway, with little internet connection or cell service. I was able to read Silver Linings Playbook, which I highly recommend, get 8 hours of sleep every night & spend some QT with my husband & in-laws.

Some highlights of our trip were:

Literally waking up to this, right outside our cabin window.


Reading by the fire. 


More gorgeous views. Montana in the winter is breathtaking. 


Celebrating Grandma's 81st birthday with the whole family. 


We stayed at Rich Ranch this visit, which I would highly recommend. It's the perfect place to retreat to for a quiet, long winter weekend, which is just what we had.















February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day, Lovers!

I was lucky enough to wake up to my husband surprising me with flowers & french toast this morning, plus a cute wine holder he got for our future bar. Over lunch we're going to meet to take the dogs for a walk, which will be a white one, since it started snowing this morning.Tonight I'm trying a new Pinterest pasta dish & then we're going to see Safe Haven. 

I'm a happy lady. 


Bonus - I received flowers  at work from my dad, something that will NEVER get old. 

So here are my favorite looks for Valentine's Day.

I've been obsessed with skirts lately, specifically of the tulle variety. I love the softness of this whole look.


Rachel Zoe looks stunning in pink, a surprising detour from her normal black. 


Cute & wearable date night attire. 


I'm dying for these booties. Gorg. 


And who doesn't love some red lips for the occasion?


Enjoy this day of L-O-V-E!






February 12, 2013

Fat Tuesday 2013

If you know me, you may have to read this to believe it. And actually, even then you may not believe it.

For Lent this year, Cory & I are giving up...

ALCOHOL. 

Hopefully this is more successful than last year, when I tried to give up gossip. You can read about that here and here

After reading my friend, Kate's blog post about Lent, I started to answer my way through the 10 questions she posed. Some of the questions that really put alcohol on my heart were the following:

When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different? 

For one, I might be thinner (bad thinking - focus on God!), but really, I will have restrained myself from something that I haven't gone even a month without in the past decade. Don't do the math, Mom. So how could giving this up for God not make me different?

Is there a habit or sin in my life that repeatedly gets in the way of loving God with my whole heart or loving my neighbor as myself? 

Ha - Is this a trick question? 90% of the problems I've had in the past have been alcohol-fulled. Of course, alcohol has furthered me from God. It has also kept me from finding my true self for far too long & drinking too much at times has put hatred in my heart & allowing me to let a nasty, sharp tongue loose. 

What are some things in my life that I tell myself I need but I don’t? Can I give one or two of them up for 40 days? 

Assuming it would be too hard, I've never tried to go without alcohol. Not because I'm addicted, just because I love a glass of wine with dinner, a beer with the game & margaritas (or martinis) with girlfriends. I don't NEED alcohol to have a good time & I might even save some cash $$ in the process. 

Think about it - if not every dinner out includes two rounds of drinks, that's like $40 in my pocket. Bonus!

Why am I giving this particular thing up? How does giving it up draw me closer to God and prepare me for Easter?

This is something that will be hard for me & will test me, but I think I'm ready for that. Giving up alcohol for Lent will help me to rely on my relationship with God in times where I'm tested & strengthen me. 

And on Easter, I'm having a mimosa before church. 

Now there is the little matter of Sundays. Many Catholics indulge on Sundays and don't eat meat on Fridays. Since Cory is in this boat with me, his stipulation is that Sundays we are allowed to indulge. Do as the Catholics do. And fine, I didn't put up too much of a fight. 

So we will allowed ourselves to indulge in alcohol on only 6 occasions over the next six weeks and will not be eating meat on Fridays.

I hope you have thought this year's Lent through & if not, there is still time. Plus, it is Fat Tuesday - perfect excuse to indulge before you go cold turkey!

Wine with dinner is (was) a staple in our house. 


PS - Just look past the jet lagged, sweaty just-got-home-from-the-gym look that we've got going on tonight.

Stay Strong, Friends! 


February 10, 2013

Will you be Mime?

Though it was not intentional, I channeled my inner mime for this look. 

I loved all of the super subtle gold details - gold rimmed buttons, gold leaf ring & even my gold Kate Spade phone case.



Will you be mime? Get it?? 

Lips - Mac Red, Turtleneck - Target, Skinnies - Articles of Society, Flats - Steve Madden


Bun + Red Lips = One of my fav looks over the past couple of years.




February 8, 2013

Willpower - Month One

My word of 2013 is willpower. If you haven't read about this yet, you can do so here.

So how am I doing after one month? Here is the report: 

Goal #1 - Weight

On an average, I've been hitting the gym 4.6 times a week & mostly in the early mornings before work. As always, our schedule was a bit hectic this past month, with Cory training in Denver one full week & me traveling back to Wichita for a week, but that just made me realize how important it is to stick to a schedule as much as possible. And when I can't - I have to improvise. 

The best news is that I'm solidly down 5 pounds! I hope to drop 5 more this month too.

Overall Goal - Something like this.



Goal # 2 - Church

Luckily we stumbled upon a church our very first Sunday here & it truly fits our needs. With Cory's work schedule we've missed the past two Sundays, but have joined a small group that meets once a week, so we're counting that as getting our weekly church outing.



Though I must say, I love the habit of getting up for church on Sundays. It just ends & starts my week off right. 

Goal # 3 - Blogging

If you follow my blog you can see that I blogged 10 times last month, more than I've ever blogged in one month to date. So I would say, this goal is off to a good start!

Goal #4 - Reading

This one is such an easy one for me, since I love reading. I finished 4 books in January, and since my goal is 20 this year, I think it's safe to say that I have this one in the bag. 

If you want to know what I'm reading or need a recommendation, check out my reading list, here

Goal # 5 - Work

My goal of increasing our brand awareness in Northern CO is off to a good start! Our survey is out, I've had lots of meetings & gotten to know several people in the community. I even got to attend my first CSU game, court side, thanks to my job!



Goal # 6- Writing a Book

An ultimate life goal of mine, it is so hard to get started because I want every word to be perfect. I did make a conference call with Krissy Gasbarre, author of How to Love an American Man (read my post about her & the book, here) regarding how to begin writing a book with intentions of it being published, as well as jot down a few opening paragraphs. 

Work in progress. 

Goal # 7 - Dogs

We haven't been on very many walks yet, but we have been on our fair share of dog park outings. Plus, our dogs go everywhere with us now. It's a Colorado thing, I think. : )

Need to work on getting these babies out more!

Goal # 8 - Being Present

This is a daily challenge for me. The devotional that I'm reading this year is the same one I read last year after my friend, Lindsay recommended it  - Jesus Calling by Sarah Young & it continues to put this concept in front of me, which is such a good reminder.



Goal # 9 - Mom & Sister

We FaceTimed a lot when I first got here, but as life picked up, we're down to about once a week. I need to work harder at initiating communication, though it was great to spend time with them when I was back in Wichita. 

When I'm with my sister, no matter what we're doing, I feel at home & at peace. : )

Goal #10 - Being Kind

There are days when I've succeeded at this (though it was challenging at times) & there are days that I failed. I will say - I always feel more satisfied on the days when I choose to succeed at being kind.

February 6, 2013

Double Duty

I really like this outfit because it's versatile & can be worn to work (if you work at a company that allows jeans) & then out to dinner. 

Blazer - Blu Pepper, Black T - Jockey, Initial Necklace - Alter Ego Boutique (Wichita, KS),
Jeans - Articles of Society, Flats - Steve Madden



I love all of the details in this look - the stripes inside of the blazer, the cuffed jeans, the pointy SM flats (I had my eye on these for months & found them on sale this past fall) & the subtle initial necklace. 


A!


I haven't done silver much in the past year, but this Jessica Simpson bag went perfectly with this outfit, being black w/silver accents. 


Off to work! Happy Hump Day!

February 4, 2013

Super Bowl 2013

I'm not the biggest sports fan, but always enjoy attending a good Super Bowl party. 


This year I paid a bit more attention to the game because of the fact that the coaches of the two teams were brothers. I saw somewhere that the majority of people were rooting for the 49ers, so it was nice to see the Ravens win. Plus, some of the things I read about Randy Moss made me not want to root for him because he is cocky, so I was happy that his team lost.

We went over to our friends, The Whitney's house to watch the game along with the rest of our small group. I thoroughly enjoyed the commercials this year, much more than I have in past years, and I had a few favorites.

My absolute favorite ad was the Doritos Fashionista Daddy Ad. If you missed it, watch it here:


I was literally laughing out loud at this one. 

I also really liked the Ram God Made a Farmercommercial, despite the fact that I don't really like or connect with the Rams brand.  There was just no denying the power behind this ad, though.


What commercials were your favorite? 

After the game we went downtown & grabbed a couple slices of late night pizza. Sunday was my cheat day, after all & we hadn't eaten too much at The Whitney's. We went to a fun, college-ish pizza joint called Pizza Casbah. 


Good convo & decent pizza - so much fun & a great way to end the week. I woke up this morning happy & ready for a Monday!


I hope you all have a great week!

February 2, 2013

Loveland

This week Cory & I went snowboarding for the first time as Colorado residents. 


The first time I hit the slopes was in middle school with my youth group, as a skier. It was so much fun - even though we were terrible. I laughed so hard that I cried...and maybe more. : )

After that initial experience, I switched over to snowboarding, which I found much easier & liked even more.  

When I met Cory in high school, we began going yearly or so with our group of friends & continued that during college. Cory even took a job at Wichita's only ski shop, The Slope (which was helpful when it came time to gear up & buy own own boards & other equipment). After we got engaged, we traveled to Montana & snowboarded together on a small mountain there, which was so much fun!

However, as many times as I've been (which really isn't much - but enough to build on skills), I was never able to conquer my toe edge. 

But that all changed this week. I, Audra Dinell, FINALLY have a toe edge under my belt. Now it's not strong, but it's there. And all thanks to my sweet, patient husband who knew just what to say to coach me. 

So even though the forecast looked a bit blizzardous (that may not be a word, but I think it should be), we loaded up & headed out.  



Neither of us had been boarding in Loveland before and we were pleasantly surprised at how snug & cozy it was.



Although it was FREEZING - we had a blast!





Of course, we warmed up by stopping by the ski bar before we drove home. Spiked warm drinks are my favorite!

This month we plan on hitting up Eldora, our closest mountain. Photos to come!