Home Decor with a Personal Twist

A really easy way to decorate your home is with artwork and a really fun, cheap way is to visit one of the many painting shops that have popped up everywhere recently.  I have now been to three different places that provide this service and for the most part they are a great evening out.  Generally the gist is that they provide all of the supplies for painting (canvas, brushes, paint, apron) and usually there are alcoholic beverages involved which helps get the creative juices flowing and reduce your artists’ anxiety.  They have an example in front and the artist does a painting along with everyone as they explain how to go about doing the selected painting.  Of course if you are brave you are welcome to change your own painting how you want or paint something completely different.

If you are located in the Denver area I would highly recommend Canvas and Cocktails.  I have been there twice and both times it was a blast.  You get one free glass of wine to get you started and the staff is really upbeat, positive and helpful when you have questions.

http://www.canvasandcocktails.com

I went there for the first time with my husband and we did this painting together.  We like to do it that way because we don’t want two of the same painting in our house.

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We have found that we each have our strengths when it comes to painting and we take turns to accommodate those strengths.  Jack is good at the details in the paintings and I am better a planning the painting out on a larger scale and doing blending.  We have talked to other couples and some people think they wouldn’t be able to paint together.

 

This painting I did myself at another small business in the Denver area.  It was a nice place because she booked smaller groups and provided more one-on-one instruction.  Also, because of the small group she was able to give instructions to different paintings at the same time.  So everyone was able to pick different paintings and have the same amount of instruction.  Unfortunately she is not in business anymore.

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Another way to do this is to just look online at the paintings that are available at the canvas painting shops and do it your self at home.  That is how I did this painting.  One nice thing about hand picking the painting you are going to do at home is that you can match it to the color palete or theme for the room that you want to hang it in.   I had this one in my office at the school I used to work for and one of my students told me that she was going to steal it she liked it so much!  Luckily she didn’t follow through with that.

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Some tips for diy:

-Start with the background and move forward from there with more and more details.

-Pick something simple if you have little or no experience.

-Don’t obsess over the smallest details.  Don’t consume yourself with “mistakes”, you will find they vanish as you finish.

-Stop every once and a while and step back and look at the painting from farther away.  That is how you will look at it most of the time anyway.

-If you don’t like what you have done you can always start over new. Just let it dry and paint it white and try again.

-If you are unsure about doing it without instruction go to a shop for a trial run.  My husband didn’t think he could paint and now he loves painting and the only instructions he has ever had was at painting shops.

Another fun way to celebrate a big event is to get a big group of friends and family to go paint together.  That was one of the things I did for my bachelorette party on my wedding weekend. This was the painting we did at Canvas and Cocktails that day:

 

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Canvas and Cocktails

As you can see, everyone’s turns out a little different.

 

Here are two more that Jack and I did together at a local Seattle company that I would not recommend.  They gave us a hard time about wanting to paint together even though we told them ahead of time that we had planned on doing it that way.  We didn’t want two of the same painting for our house.  Also the canvases they provide are very small.  I do like how both of them turned out though.

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-Callie Ham

Getting Back on the Wagon

Falling-off-the-wagon

During my posting hiatus I had somewhat of a workout hiatus as well.  I took about a month break surrounding our purchase of the new house.  But during that time I was very active with packing and moving.  After a period of not working out sometimes it can be difficult to begin again.  For me, knowing that I have an event I am committed to helps me stay motivated and make the time to train because when that day comes if I have not trained it will be a lot less enjoyable.  If I don’t have an event coming up I can’t seem to find the time or motivation to consistently work out.  I have found what I need to do to stay on the wagon.  When I don’t have an end goal or event I tend to find myself in the gym wondering what I am doing.  I ask myself what is the point?  I usually get on a elipical machine for 30-45 minutes do some lifting but I never stick with it because I don’t know what I am working toward.  It feels monotonus and like a chore to get the work out finished rather than a journey to an end goal.  I have been back on the wagon doing my triathlon training now consistently for about 3 weeks.  The triathlon is less than a month away and I am feeling really good about it!   What keeps you on the work out wagon?

Current weight:  139

-Callie Ham

 

Lindberg Lingonberry Cocktail

Yesterday was my husband and my anniversary so I thought I would post the recipe for the signature cocktail we had at our wedding.  It is named after my mother’s maiden name, which is fitting because she is Swedish and the cocktail has a Swedish twist.

Recipe:

  • 6 parts Citrus Vodka
  • 4 parts Lingonberry Drink Concentrate
  • 1 part Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur
  • 12 parts Water

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As I have said before I recommend Svedka vodka.  My husband prefers the flavor (I can’t tell the difference) and it is reasonably priced.  The Lingonberry Drink Concentrate can be bought at your local IKEA.  Do we see the Swedish theme?  It was also perfect for the wedding because the ingredients matched our wedding colors (yellow and red).

When we made it for the wedding there was a whopping 5 gallons that was all drank, before we finished with the photos I might add, and Jack used the power drill and a stirring rod he made to mix it.

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Cheers!

-Callie Ham

Back online…

I took a short hiatus from posting due to various happenings in my real life.  Here is a quick update with everything that happened since my last post.

In the beginning of April we had a visitor in town.

While Kate was here went to a waterfall, visited the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum, went to the top of the space needle for lunch and listened to some live music.

Kate

Throughout April my husband and I began our search for a house to buy.  Which included several meetings with a loan officer, weekends filled with looking at potential dwellings and many conversations amoungst ourselves discussing if we would be able to handle the financial burden that homeownership brings.

In May we had visitors in town for one weekend.  We rode on a farris wheel, visited Pike’s Place market, and ate really yummy food.  Surprisingly we only took 1 photo the whole weekend they were here.  It happens to be very appropriate since it depicts how our friend feels about infants.

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We went to a Rodrigo y Gabriela concert at the historical Paramount Theatre.

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We went to Oklahoma for a wedding another weekend.  While we were there we had a chance to visit one of the many Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives featured on Guy Fieri’s show in Oklahoma City and we visited the Oklahoma City bombing memorial.

http://www.cattlemensrestaurant.com

And at the end of the month we moved into our new house.

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We commemorated the event by popping a bottle of champagne on the roof and lighting a floating candle lantern and watching it drift off.

June consisted of quickly getting settled into our new house (mostly).  There is still more boxes to unpack and rooms to organize.

We had another visitor 2 weeks after we closed on our house.  While Jaron was here we went on a hike, and saw humpback whales!

Whale

And I finished up my school year and settled into my summer off.

-Callie Ham

Recommended Sugar Intake

A while ago I was listening to NPR and heard a story about the negative effects of having a high sugar diet.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/03/271130613/sweet-tooth-gone-bad-why-22-teaspoons-of-sugar-per-day-is-deadly

According to the story women should have 6 teaspoons and men should have 9 teaspoons, but generally it is best to stay under 10 teaspoons a day.  It became complicated because on all food labels sugar is measured in grams instead of teaspoons.  So, I had to figure out how many grams of sugar are in a teaspoon.  There are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon.  So basically it is best to stay under 40 grams of sugar in a day.

I have kept track for the past 18 days if I have stayed under the recommended number and without changing any habits I stayed under in 12.  It was really easy to go over the amount with one soda, dessert or a combination of snacks.  With that being said, so far it seems that my instincts guide me well when it comes to eating mostly healthy.

Current weight: 139

Lemon Vodka Drop

Last weekend my husband and I were having some new friends over and I was really excited to try out my new bundt pan so I found a great recipe on Pinterest.  One of the ingredients was limoncello and I got to thinking about creating a new mixed drink with limoncello and Lemon Vodka Drop was the result!

Ingredients:

  • Sprite
  • Limoncello
  • Citron Vodka

Directions:

1. Fill your glass mostly full with ice cubes.

2. Mostly cover your ice cubes with vodka.  I use Svedka because it is affordable but high quality.

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3. Add a splash of limoncello.

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4. Fill the glass the rest of the way with sprite.

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4. Enjoy!

The drink does go wonderfully with the cake as well.  Here is the link to the recipe:   http://vikalinka.com/2013/10/24/raspberry-limoncello-cake-with-mascarpone/

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-Callie Ham

Garlic Infused Grapeseed Oil

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Years ago I bought garlic grape seed oil at a winery and loved using it to cook.  I have been on the hunt for another bottle since running out and have been unsuccessful in countless grocery stores and specialty shops.

A few months ago I decided to go ahead and try to make my own.  I bought a small bottle of grape seed oil (8.45 fl. oz.) and coarsely chopped 4-5 garlic cloves and shoved them in the space remaining in the new bottle.  I left it to sit for 2 and a half months and tried it for the first time this morning.  It worked out wonderfully.  When you cook with this oil the garlic gives the kitchen a wonderful smell and it gives your food a mild garlic flavor.

The grape seed oil has a high smoking temperature so you can use it for almost anything.  This morning I used it to heat up some sausage links and then added some butter to the pan to cook eggs over medium.  It is also really good for roasting vegetables, sautéing fish or for dipping crusty bread in with some cracked pepper added of course.

-Callie Ham

Raspberry Vinaigrette Shrimp Salad

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Ingredients:

  • Spinach leaves
  • Lemon Juice
  • Broccoli
  • Red Pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Shrimp
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Olive Oil
  • Unsalted butter

Directions:

1. Chop all of your veggies.  I liked the combination of the veggies listed above but any of your favorite veggies can be substituted.  Arrange your leaves and veggies on your plate and spinkle some lemon juice on top.

2. Heat a skillet on medium high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter.  When the butter is melted, add the shrimp and cook until pink.  Pour the shrimp over the veggies on your plate.

3.  Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese and top off with your favorite store bought raspberry vinaigrette dressing.  I like a little fresh cracked pepper on top as well.

If you are making a salad to go and plan on transferring it to a plate at work or such then there is a little trick I like to do.  You build the salad upside down in a tupperware container with the salad toppings put in first and spinach leaves last.  At work you flip the tupperware upside down onto the plate and wah-la, salad the right side up.  This is especially good trick to do with microwave leftover lunches that you don’t want to microwave in those tupperware dishes.

-Callie Ham

Triathlon Training for Pleasure Seekers

I have done a few triathlons.  My first one was an Olympic distance and I did it in the summer of 2007 in Boulder, Colorado.  Since then I have done several different variations of triathlons.  I have done another almost Olympic distance triathlon, a half iron man and a 6 and 12-hour adventure race.

Adventure racing is similar to triathlons but you have a 2 or 4 person team that you have to stay with and the added challenge of navigation is included.  The swimming is replaced with kayaking, the road biking is replaced with mountain biking, the running is replaced with trail running and there are other fun outdoor activities sprinkled in.  In the 12-hour race I did we got to rappel, ride an alpine slide and go caving.  With that being said I have some experience but I am by no means an expert at triathloning.

As I have mentioned in my previous post, I am currently training for an Xterra Triathlon, which is kind of a cross between a regular triathlon and an adventure race.  There is no navigation component but you get to trail run and mountain bike instead of road run and bike.  Which is kind of perfect for me because I am horrible with the navigation piece and I enjoy mountain biking and trail running over the road biking and running.

I have found that when training for events, it is good to start early but give yourself breaks or cross train with other activities so that you don’t burn out with the training.  My Xterra triathlon is going to be at the beginning of August and I have already started training but I took a week off in February because I needed a break from the routine and I frequently substitute snowboarding or snowshoeing for workouts to change things up.  Because my motivation for doing these events is to have fun, challenge myself and stay in shape – with more of an emphasis on having fun and challenging myself.  I have tried to come up with workout plans without an end event in mind and I never end up following through.  I think it is because I have commitment to doing the event.  If my goal is to ‘stay in shape’ solely there is no climax and it is a never-ending process to ‘stay in shape’ which is very de-motivating for me.

The training book that I use to get workout plans is called “Essential Week-by-Week Training Guide: Plans, Scheduling Tips, and Workout Goals for Triathletes for All Levels” by Matt Fitzgerald.  I have looked at several books and cruised the Internet and I like this book the most.  It includes workout plans from a sprint triathlon all the way to a full-blown Iron Man with 7 levels of training intensity for all the distances.  It also has heavy and light ‘off season’ training workout plans which is what I am doing right now since the triathlon I am doing is months and months away.  So right now I am ‘suppose’ to be working out 6 days a week.  I am doing one swim, bike and run and on the other days I am doing strength and flexibility training.

essential-week-by-week

Current weight: 140.5

-Callie Ham

A Heightened Sense of Reality?

Unknown

If you would like to read something that makes you think outside of the box I would recommend Carlos Castaneda’s series of books.  I read the first book while I was doing my practicum in graduate school because I was trying to better understand a client I was seeing.  The client was referencing things in therapy related to spirituality that I had no experience with myself.  As a student counselor I was eager to have a successful therapeutic relationship and I read the first book in the week between our meetings.  After I read it the client told me I should have skipped the first book because it is so boring that it would turn you off of the series-which frustrated me at the time because I was trying my hardest as a new counselor.  I just finished reading the third book in the series-Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan and now I am glad I read the first book because it discusses the time period that takes place in the first book but were left out because at the time the author thought they were insignificant.

Castaneda’s books are about his spiritual exploration with his mentor Don Juan Matus who is a Yaqui Indian who he visits sporadically in Northern Mexico.  During his time with Don Juan he experiments with psychotropic drugs, explores the wilderness surrounding Don Juan’s home and encounters various entities.  In the beginning Castaneda’s intention was to learn about the Indian traditional use of plants for healing.  The relationship with Don Juan becomes much more than that.   At times in his journey Castaneda fears for his life and even after reading the books the first hand account seems hard to explain.  Castaneda comes across as a logical thinker who is experiencing the illogical and is desperately trying to explain and understand it.  Don Juan continually tries to get Castaneda to change this logical way of seeing the world.  Throughout all three books I was rooting for Castaneda to succeed in his quest to understand and perceive the still unknown.  Some people have criticized the books saying that they were actually a work of fiction.  Since finishing the books I can’t decide what my opinion about that is but I do know that I liked the way the books make me think outside of the box, and it is intriguing to me to think that there are people in the world that have a heightened sense of perception.  I also know that I will continue to read more books by Carlos Castaneda.

http://www.uazone.org/naph/ccarlos/books/ccarlosbooks.html

-Callie Ham